With 14 coaches and 14 athletes currently in Sochi at the 2014 Olympics, Whistler’s Momentum ski camps have earned bragging rights.
“We can’t take all the credit, of course,” said camp founder, director and two-time Olympian, John Smart, over Skype from Mexico. “There’s a pride in that, but they did it themselves. We just harnessed that energy and drove it. We attract really talented kids because of the program. They have talent, but we created a really good learning environment for them and they go on.”
The camp, which runs winter and summer freestyle ski clinics to help skiers improve moguls, halfpipe and slopestyle skills, was also at the forefront of readying athletes to compete in the latter two events, which were newly added to the 2014 Olympics. “It was a real surprise that they brought in slopestyle at the same time because the push was for halfpipe,” Smart said. “Then all of a sudden they threw in slopestyle as a bonus. I’m stoked because we’ve been a part of those two right since they started.”
Though it was Canadian sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe — not Momentum campers or coaches — who won gold and silver respectively for ladies’ moguls, Smart was confident that at least one of the Momentum coaches or campers would stand on the podium. “When you throw all this talent out there, there’s a good chance we’re going to get a few medals,” he said.
He was right. On Monday, (Feb. 10) Alex Bilodeau, a longtime camper and coach, became the first freestyle skier to earn gold in two Games after his big win in men’s moguls. Mikael Kingsbury, another Momentum coach, won silver.
“That was huge,” Smart said of Bilodeau’s 2010 gold. “All these guys, on the coach and campers side, have a chance to win.”
Smart plans to send a few words of encouragement by text or over Facebook, but mostly wants the athletes to remain focused — a harder task than it was for him when he competed in the early ‘90s. “We didn’t have this digital world in ‘92 and ‘94,” he said. “They’re constantly sending pictures of the sights. We got way more direct feedback from these guys than anyone got from us. If they put something out there I’ll respond. I don’t want to push it too much.”
Although the campers and coaches are competing against each other, they’re all friends, Smart said. “The reason we have such great coaches is because they’re friends,” he said. “It started back when I was on the national team and competing in the Olympics. I brought all my friends in and we started the camp. The camp has stayed the same. The average age has stayed the same. The only thing that’s changed is me: I got older.”
To see the full list of competing campers and coaches visit momentumcamps.com.