Alpine Insurance Alberta World Cup Academy

Full Athlete Development
– Join The Academy

Welcome to the 2023 – 24 Alpine Insurance Alberta World Cup Academy program!
Having started in the spring of 2008, the Academy was an idea born out of a need for something different, a program that catered to athlete’s needs.
15 years have passed, and there have been a lot of changes to how our program has operated since our first year.
Over 100 athletes have passed through our doors as well as many great coaches, volunteers, wax staff and countless other contributors.  Every person has helped shape who we are and what we do.  Every year we try to take a critical look at how we operate our training centre and look to make changes that we feel represent our athletes’ needs, our community, and to no small part our financial landscape.  Not every idea or change is successful, and just like everyone in sport, we keep looking to tweak things to find the ideal balance.

A very big part of our success are our partners, big and small, who have continued to support our Academy program through the pandemic, and without whom we would not be able to provide athlete development programming.

2022-23 has been our busiest and most successful year yet, with 27 athletes in the program, and almost half of them being enrolled in post-secondary educational studies while training with the academy. Over 50% of our athletes qualified to represent Canada on the international stage at FIS Cross Country World Cup Races, FIS Nordic Junior/U23 Cross-Country World Ski Championships , FISU World University Games, IBU Cup Races, and the IBU Junior World Cup. Our athletes have been – and are – racing in Canada, Europe, in the US, and in Asia.

With that being said, a big shout-out and thank you(!) is going to our main partner Nordiq Canada for continuous funding and support of our national training centre, and to our title partner Alpine Insurance & Financial for their financial and operational support.
We are very thankful to Basecamp Resorts for providing us and our athletes with affordable accommodation, Winsport for sharing their facilities, Grizzly Paw Brewing Company for their financial support, Lanctôt for providing affordable clothing and ski equipment to our athletes, and Sauce, for providing free headwear to our team.
Thank you also to SwixBrubeck and Lululemon for their support, and last but not least Skratch Lab for helping to keep our team hydrated, recovered, and powered up for more sessions to come.
Our highly talented coaching team will stay the same for the 2023/24 season, which will ensure stability and continuous athlete development:
Nikki Gilman – previously our head coach – will have an expanded role as our program director going forward.
Tormod Vatten is our high performance coach. Tormod joined our coaching team two years ago after serving as Head Coach for the Kjelsas Ski Club in Oslo, Norway, the country’s top ranked club at the time. He also spent time coaching in Iceland, gaining valuable international experience. Tormod has been instrumental in helping our academy athletes succeed at the highest international level, and is excited to continue his work.
Jouni Pitkänen has joined our coaching team last year as our Development coach. Originally from Finland, his focus is on our Calgary component, training with athletes who are enrolled in post-secondary educational studies. He was part of the Finnish U18 National Team, and has been a coach at the Lapland Sport Academy before coming to Canada.
The program’s success however is ultimately determined by our athletes. The most successful teams are a collective that have strong cultures and shared values and become great because of their support for each other. The current culture of the Academy is one of diversity, inclusion and passion for the sport.
The Academy offers high performance training facilities in two training locations, access to three roller ski treadmills, on-snow training mid/end October through to mid-May, and over 7km of roller ski tracks, and, of course, limitless high altitude adventures.

Academy Selection Criteria

Many factors play a role when considering all applications for the Academy training programs.
The application process is fairly competitive, with regularly receiving over 20-30 applications.
We base our decisions on our vision and mission, following Nordiq Canada and Nordiq Alberta guidelines.
Following are some factors considered when making team selections include:
– National team status.
– World Junior Championships, U23 Championships, and World Cup results.
– Trials results.
– Nationals results.
– Nor-am/Supertour results.
– FIS points
– Club coach recommendations.

(This is not an exhaustive list of factors we would consider, but this is where we place priority. If applicants have race results outside this list, internationally or domestically that are of note, they should be included in the application.)

All Academy athletes will have to re-apply for a team spot every two years. This will allow athletes to focus on their development and personal goals, but also keeps the program competitive to allow the team as a whole to train with other athletes whose goals are very much aligned.

Option 1

The Academy Program
Canmore based

Program Length: 11 months, May 2023 – March 2024.
Coaches: Nikki Gilman, Tormod Vatten
Team Fees: $4,500 + GST (5%)
*A portion of NST athletes’ fees are funded by Nordiq Canada.

Program Includes:

  • Annual Periodized Training Plan
  • 2023 Training Camp Program
  • 2023-24 Competition Program – individually designed based on goals and objectives
  • Customized local training in addition to team camps.  Minimum 2 group sessions per week plus individual opportunities
  • Ski fleet testing
  • Daily monitoring using up to date technology
  • Lululemon summer training clothes
  • Sauce team headwear

Program Excludes:

  • Camp and competition costs: airfare, ground transport, accommodation, food, shared cost of staff travel
  • NC/FIS race licence
  • Race registrations
  • Trail passes
  • Gym membership – note we do not run a team strength program.  Strength planning is done on an individual basis
  • Race wax – approx. $30/race
  • CSI consulting costs for physiological tests, nutrition, psychology, etc.
  • Team clothing by Swix – you will not be required to purchase new clothing year to year, we use clothing on a 4-5 year cycle
  • Personal Equipment – we can help source equipment at team pricing


Do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions:

Option 2

The Academy Program
Calgary based – Student/Athlete

Program Length: 11 months, May 2023 – March 2024.
This innovative program is bringing the training centre model directly to the University of Calgary campus.
Athletes enrolled in this program will get consistent weekly programming designed for U20 and U23 athletes who are committed to the highest pursuits of both academics and sport.

Coach: Jouni Pitkänen
Team Fees: $4,500 + $1,000 Transportation Fee (Calgary – Canmore return) + GST (5%)
*National Senior Team athletes: discount available please contact the Program Director

Program Includes:
(in addition to the Academy Program components listed in Option 1)

  • Weekly training schedule designed around school schedules (see below).  Minimum 3 group sessions per week plus individual sessions.
  • First access to University of Calgary class registration
  • Administrative help navigating enrolment, classes and exam schedules
  • Team van transportation for local training can be obtained – cost TBD
  • Use of xc rollers treadmill, located on campus at University of Calgary.


Program Excludes:

  • Camp and competition costs: airfare, ground transport, accommodation, food, shared cost of staff travel
  • NC/FIS race licence
  • Race registrations
  • Trail passes
  • Gym membership – note we do not run a team strength program.  Strength planning is done on an individual basis
  • Race wax – approx. $30/race
  • CSI consulting costs for physiological tests, nutrition, psychology, etc.
  • Team clothing by Swix – you will not be required to purchase new clothing year to year, we use clothing on a 4-5 year cycle
  • Personal Equipment – we can help source equipment at team pricing

Calgary Student/Athlete Weekly Program Schedule:
2 – 4 sessions / week in Calgary
1 – 2 sessions / week in Canmore
– more details to come

Coaching and Consultants

Nikki Gilman – Program Director

Nikki will be leading all athlete program for the 2023 – 24 season.  About to embark on her second year with the Academy, Nikki brings a tremendous enthusiasm for athlete development to go along with his wealth of experience.

Hometown: Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin, USA
Years with the Academy: 1st year
Education: BS in Exercise Physiology and BA in Philosophy from The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN.
Coaching Background:Bogus Basin Nordic Team (Boise, ID) Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (Sun Valley, ID) Kimberley Nordic Club (Kimberley, BC).

Tormod Vatten – High Performance Coach

Grew up in Surnadal, Norway
Years with the Academy: 2nd year
Education: BS in Exercise Physiology and MSc in Sports Pedagogy, and PE from Norwegian School of Sports Science.
Coaching Background: 12 years of coaching, last five full-time, mostly in Kjelsås IL, Oslo, and one year coaching in Iceland.


Jouni Pitkänen – Development Coach

Grew up in Toivala, Finland
Years with the Academy: 1st year
Education: BS in Sports Studies, December 2022
Coaching Background: Finnish U18 National Team, University Program Coach at Lapland Sport Academy

Chris Jeffries
Julia Mehre Ystgaard
Julia Mehre Ystgaard

Jess Kryski – Physiologist

Originally working for the CSI Calgary as the lead physiologist for the cross country able and para and biathlon national teams, Jess moved to Revelstoke, BC in 2018 and is continuing to support programs as a consultant.  We feel very fortunate to have Jess as part of our team, providing critical support in developing athlete training programs and supporting our monitoring and testing.  Jess’ experience includes leading programs through the 2014 and 2018 Olympic cycles.

Matt Wiley – Physiotherapist

Former Alberta World Cup Academy member, Matt graduated with a Master’s of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Alberta after completing an undergraduate degree in kinesiology at the University of Calgary. Originally from the Okanagan, Matt was drawn to the mountains in Alberta to pursue competitive cross-country skiing, staying in Alberta to pursue his education. Matt grew up playing many different sports including volleyball, basketball and tennis. Matt’s experience with a variety of sports anchors his active approach to therapy, combining the right balance of exercise and hands-on manual therapy.

Lahav Wolach – Lead Race Service

Having grown up in the ski hotbed of Israel, Lahav is famous for his attitude that if he can make skis glide on sand, then snow is not a problem.  Lahav started waxing skis for Foothills Nordic and Rocky Mountain Racers as his kids navigated the high-performance system.  With his kids grown up and no longer racing, Lahav’s love of the sport and the challenge waxing provides sees him back working with us and other Canadian international trips.  Best representing the impact he has had on our team can be best summed up by a pre-trip athlete question; “Is Lahav coming…good!”

University of Calgary Sports Medicine Centre
We continue to partner with the University of Calgary Sports Medecine Centre. Athletes attending our program and attending the University of Calgary are provided with timely services when medical concerns arise.

Canadian Sport Institute (CSI) Calgary
As a national team development centre, we are partnered with the CSI in Calgary to help us deliver support via the most up to date sport science in Canada and the world.  All our testing is conducted by the CSI as well as most of our IST services: psychology, nutrition, physiotherapy, osteopathy, sport medicine.  These services can be coordinated by Chris Jeffries on a cost recovery basis.

Judy and Mike Mappin – Canmore Nordic Sport Services
Judy and Mike have been working on and off with the team in the ski service side since the early days of the Academy.  Both are equally passionate about their own training and racing pursuits as they are about fast skis.  With the help of The Grinders in Canmore, Judy and Mike have had a big impact on our team with ski identification and selection, as they help our skiers manage their ski fleets.  This is tireless work that begins in the spring and continues through the early winter season as they help our team make sense of this complex and always changing technical area.

Do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions: or 

Academy Partners & Sponsors


Cross Country Alberta


Alpine Insurance
The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company
Rundle Nordic Logo


Rundle Nordic Logo
lululemon logo