Cross Country Ski de fond Canada has tapped Nic Lemyre to guide the organization’s high-performance program into a new era.
Originally from Montreal, Lemyre takes on the role of high performance and development advisor with clear goals in mind – to break barriers and establish Canada as a strong Nordic nation with multiple male and female athletes performing at the highest level, while providing our nation’s best cross-country skiers with the means to be back on the Olympic podium in 2026 and ensure the Para-Nordic program remains a dominant force for future generations.
“We are standing on the shoulders of a group of athletes and staff who have accomplished great things for our sport in Canada over the last two decades. Together, we have to understand and identify what has led to these exceptional performances and provide the same opportunities for the next generation to succeed,” said Lemyre.
A former skier in the 1990’s, Lemyre moved to Norway 21 years ago where he has applied his academic and administrative skillsets as a sports psychologist to a variety of roles in the Norwegian sport system. He has worked within the support team for the world-leading Norwegian cross-country ski squad as a sport psychologist since 2011. Lemyre will split his time advising Cross Country Ski de fond Canada’s high-performance program, while continuing his role as a professor of sports psychology at the University in Oslo over the next year.
“Cross-country skiing is a passion of mine. Things have come full circle for me since I left for Norway in 1996, and I’m very humbled to have this opportunity now to contribute to the growth of the Canadian program,” said Lemyre, who takes over from Tom Holland, who retired from the position of high-performance director following the PyeongChang Games. “I am ecstatic to be able to bring my knowledge and skills back to my sport roots at home in Canada.”
Holding a Ph.D in sport and exercise psychology from The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Lemyre has been the head of the school’s department of coaching and psychology since 2008. He has been the sports psychology consultant for the Norwegian Men’s Cross-Country Ski Team and the Norwegian Cycling Team from 2012-17. He has also accompanied Norway’s Olympic Team as a sport psychologist at the 2010 and 2014 Games, and worked with the Norwegian Women’s Biathlon Team between 2009-2015. Lemyre has also provided support to Norway’s alpine skiing, swimming and ice hockey programs.
“Nic is a highly-motivated professional who knows what it takes to win,” said Shane Pearsall, chief executive officer, Cross Country Ski de fond Canada. “He has been through the peaks and valleys of a respected program, while working closely with a number of accomplished high-performance directors who have achieved excellence on the biggest stage. As a result, he understands the patience and time investment required to build a medal-winning program. I am confident he can transfer this knowledge to help build a strong support team to ensure Canadian athletes and coaches achieve their performance goals.”
Canada’s cross-country ski program has made steady progress over the last two decades developing generations of Olympic, World Championship and World Cup medal-winners. While Lemyre takes over the leadership of a Para-Nordic National Team who achieved an unprecedented 16 medals at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, the World Cup Team has delivered impressive results on the Olympic stage but has not won a medal since the 2006 Games.
“The sport in Canada has established itself on a tradition of excellence with Pierre Harvey, Beckie Scott, Sara Renner, Brian McKeever, Chandra Crawford, Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Len Valjas, and Mark Arendz leading the charge, but it is clear our National Ski Team is now at a crossroads,” said Lemyre. “It is important for us to reflect and act on what has, and has not, worked. We can learn a lot from the success of our past, and from the strength of the para-Nordic program.
“There is a lot of talent out there – good kids skiing right now. Our job is to create a Canadian-made system with our partners that will deliver a pool of resources for our athletes and coaches to develop to their full potential – from the junior to elite level – and help them achieve our collective performance goals.”
Lemyre will be based in Canmore, Alta. throughout the summer months before returning to Norway. His first order of business will be to do a complete evaluation of the program and initiate the implementation of a plan with a focus on investing in the next generation of athletes and coaches.
“There is no doubt we have some challenges, as well as some great opportunities, ahead of us. We can’t promise things that aren’t reasonable, and this will take time, but I’m committed to working with the talented staff at CCC and our partners to get the right people in place within a structure that will provide both the able-bodied and para- women’s and men’s athletes the structure and resources they require to fully develop and excel internationally long-term,” added Lemyre, who added that sport science and innovation will be an important tool for Canadian coaches in his planning.
“The goal is to create a strong base for the next generation of athletes, while developing a culture from the ground up that prides itself on sharing knowledge, information and skillsets to succeed in building a tight-knit program across the country that pushes each other to be better every day. To me that is what it takes to win.”
Lemyre will begin to roll out the new high-performance structure in the coming weeks.