From ski racing to ski summits that inspire future generations
Just over a year ago three-time Olympian, World Cup and World Championship medallist Mike Janyk retired from the Canadian men’s alpine ski team. Once retired, Janyk’s plan was to take a year off and be at peace with doing nothing while readying himself for inspiration to hit.
Then the opportunity to guest coach at a B.C. ski team camp arose and sure enough, Janyk was struck with inspiration for a new kind of ski camp connecting kids, parents and coaches to the power of the pursuit first and results second.
While his race days may be behind him, Janyk finds himself already bursting out of the starting gate of a new career inspiring the next generation of racers through camps across Canada from Poley Mountain, New Brunswick to Sun Peaks, British Columbia.
Breaking the mold
Janyk’s mind is as sharp as his slalom skis. Although the humble champ would never admit it, he has an uncommon mental edge that lets him get creative with his camp content.
His summit structure has a strong framework that respects the necessary progressions, but the dynamic environment with each group of kids plays a huge role. In his first year, four ski clubs with a common thread of creativity and a desire to try something new signed on. Freeing himself from the confines of a rigid structure produced powerful results for Janyk as he experimented with how creative he could get using contrasts from coast to coast.
“The kids come with the same energy, but the difference is they don’t have the same environment to challenge them. We also had an age range from 10 to 17 so you can’t use the same format. You have to take what you’re given in each moment. That’s where I can dig into my experience over a 20-year career,” explains Janyk.
Part of the three-day summit format includes a day getting coaches to step out and work on their craft by watching World Cup video, talking about it and just going skiing. Complimenting this is an evening talk with kids, parents and coaches where Janyk digs deep into his career lessons and how a heightened awareness of who you are is central to an athlete’s success.
Skiing with soul
Janyk realized the most powerful impact he could have was not simply crashing gates with kids, but connecting the young athletes to the feeling of skiing.
“Skiing isn’t a bunch of check mark boxes; it’s feeling it,” says Janyk. “What I’ve learned through my pursuit is to make the result secondary and that connection, that sense, primary.”
Janyk’s long career and relationships with fellow racers who channelled their racing skills down different roads after retirement, taught him that what makes their sport special is that connection to who you are and what you do in the moment.
“Sport’s true power, at its core, is it elevates who you are,” says Janyk who encourages his campers to connect with the athlete within. “In the pursuit of high performance in anything it’s so easy for the individual to get lost. I truly feel all I’m doing is holding up a mirror so they can see themselves.”
Passing the torch
In 2007, Janyk joined forces with teammate and fellow Canadian Cowboy, Manuel Osborne-Paradis to create the Mike and Manny Foundation.
The idea stemmed from gratitude for all the support they received in their careers and a shared commitment to give back. Together they created the camp for kids who possess true passion for the sport and who may not be able to afford off-season training.
It wasn’t until a few years in that Janyk began to realize the power of this connection between those who do and those who dream to do. By connecting kids with Olympic athletes who have achieved their dreams they are fueling a belief in kids to live their dream or know their dream is possible.
Janyk on carving a new career:
“I was lucky to have coaches and friends who showed me the qualities ski racers have. No matter what you go into, you have these qualities. This is what you possess. All you’re doing is changing your clothes. Who you are stays.”
Link to Whistler Question article: http://ow.ly/VMhuO