BC Winter Games propel B.C. coaches to the Winter Olympics

Feb 24, 2018

With two gold medals and a silver in hand after this past week’s Olympic finals, the Canadian ski cross team had much to celebrate. Brady Lehman and Kelsey Serwa became Olympic champions, while Brittany Phelan secured the second place finish next to her teammate and best friend.

Hailing from the Okanagan Valley, Serwa’s podium achievement had British Columbians echoing nothing but praises for the Kelowna-bred athlete. After all, the unique programs and challenging terrains at Big White Ski Resort have groomed her into becoming the world-class ski cross competitor that she is today. 

That being said, the connection to B.C. from these three Olympic ski-cross medalists reach farther than solely Kelsey’s hometown. Assistant Coach at PyeongChang for these three skiers, Sead Causevic was a coach at the BC Winter Games, a biennial multi-sport event bringing together B.C.’s emerging high performance athletes, trained coaches and certified officials for four days of competition. Causevic’s participation at both the 2002 and 2004 BC Winter Games proved to be an essential stepping stone in his coaching career, including his current role as NextGen Head Coach for Alpine Canada.

Another coach currently in PyeongChang who took advantage of BC Winter Games’ development opportunities is Jan Wegelin, Head Coach for parallel giant slalom in snowboarding. Four years ago, Wegelin travelled to the 2014 BC Winter Games in Mission with his young B.C. athletes. Four years later, he’s guiding Jasey-Jay Anderson, a 2010 gold medalist in parallel giant slalom, into his sixth Winter Olympics. (Impressive, given that he’s the only Canadian, so far, to take part in so many.) On top of that, Wegelin is coaching snowboarder Darren Gardner, who is making his Olympic debut at this year’s Games.

This year’s 2018 Winter Olympics involves 87 coaches leading over 200 high-performing athletes on Team Canada. Because of their support and commitment, Canadian Olympians have been able to successfully perform at the highest level of sport, surpassing the record for the number of medals ever attained by Canada at a Winter Olympics.

“Coaches are essential to bringing out the best in our athletes, and we are fortunate to have among us some of the top in the world. These men and women devote their life and passion to provide the support needed for the athletes and podium success,” says Eric Myles, Executive Director, Sport of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Of the 87 coaches, 11 are proudly from British Columbia, including Causevic and Wegelin. Their experience in the BC Winter Games highlights the inevitable importance of professional and skills development for coaches in the pursuit of coaching excellence. In recognizing the importance of empowering coaches with the confidence to succeed, viaSport established the BC Games Coach Mentorship Program with the BC Games Society.

Through this unique program, apprentice coaches are paired with a mentor coach to enhance their existing skills as they work towards their coaching certification. In hand, mentor coaches are given the opportunity to pass on their knowledge while expanding their coaching capacity.

Currently participating at this year’s BC Winter Games in Kamloops include 12 thriving mentorship pairings from the BC Games Coach Mentorship Program, which is the largest group of participants since the inception of the program. This diverse group of mentorship pairings reflected the diversity of communities in the province as there was representation from every BC Games zone. Additionally, seven out of 13 sports were highlighted through the program. 

“The BC Games Coach Mentorship Program allows the apprentice coaches to set their own goals, and be supported by their mentors in achieving them. The pairings in this program represent exactly what we need to see in developing Canadian coaches; keen apprentices who are open to learning opportunities and knowledgeable mentors who know when to step in, and when to step back,” says Kate Kloos, Manager, Coach Development  

Learn more about the BC Games Coach Mentorship Program and how you can get involved as a coach.


Photo credit: BC Games Society