Australian Aerial skiers

When I look out my window in Calgary, Canada I see the snow covered Rocky Mountains. The host of the 1988 Winter Olympics, we are proud of our winter sport athletes.

So we Canucks were a bit put out when the Australian women started kicking our butts in aerial ski jumping. Aussies should be winning surf competitions and leaving the ski medals to the Nordic countries. Right?

How did they do it? I had to check the Ski and Snowboard Australia website:


Nearly all of the world’s top aerial skiers have an acrobatic background. Alisa Camplin is an ex level 8 MLC gymnast (who is currently ranked number 1 in the world) recently won a World Championship gold medal to go alongside her Olympic Gold Medal from the Salt Lake City Games. Our winning tradition of World Champions, including ex-gymnast Kirstie Marshall and back-to-back World Cup Champion Jacqui Cooper is sure to continue with two more athletes ranked in the top ten, Lydia Ierodiaconou (2) and Liz Gardner (10).

You may have been retired from competition for several years and still be eligible for the program. You need not have skied before to be eligible for the program, in fact most of our successful aerial skiers had never skied until they joined the development Aerial Skiing program. …

The program transfers elite and high-level gymnasts to World Cup, World Championship and Olympic Games Aerial Skiing via a fast track – a compressed development program that builds a high performance base of fundamental skills. …

Minimum entry requirements:

Previous competition experience at National level 7 or equivalent is required, however preference will be given to athletes who have attained a higher gymnastic level in training and/or competition.

Athletes should be retired from competitive gymnastics training and between the ages of 15 and 19 years. Consideration may be given to athletes over 20 years of age in special circumstances.

So — the Aussies recruit and fast track retired gymnasts, who have never even skied!

Like so many things they do in sport — smart!


climbing walls over gymnastics pits

I recall when Jim McLuskey told me he was going to build a climbing wall over the pit at Mountain Shadows Gymnastics. Brilliant. This was the first time I had heard of the concept.


But in 2006 kids are no longer allowed to use this climbing wall due to problems with insurance coverage. What a shame.

Other clubs only allow kids to climb very low on a wall.

To me as a coach, it seems a perfect marriage of training equipment.

gymnastics bars “safety straps”

I am surprised how many different systems are used for strapping on to a men’s horizontal bar.

Most coaches use the system they first used.

Eugene Galperin, one of the most successful Canadian coaches in history, brought straps from the USSR to Toronto decades ago. An athlete from Ontario showed up in my gym one day with straps — and I was hooked.

I still use 2 inch (5cm) wide straps with long sport socks (from the lost & found) wrapped around the bar. I want to simulate the feel of the actual wooden rail for the girls.

Kids who are used to narrower straps find mine awkward to put on. But force is distributed over a greater surface area, a real advantage, I feel.

Mountain Shadows Gymnastics

buying a “trampoline board”

Jason from heard my call for a quality trampoline board.

Check out the TrickBone.


It’s designed to use in conjunction with an outdoor performance trampoline.

… constructed from strong, flexible, laminated beechwood. The rubber feet have been developed to provide optimum jump control whilst the specially curved ends help overcome unsteady landings.

The TrickBone has pre-drilled holes to allow the fixing of all standard snow and wakeboard bindings. If you don’t already have your own bindings, they can be supplied …

Awesome. Every boarder needs to train with one of these.

See product details on

coaching jobs

Where I live there is a big shortage of gymnastics coaches.

Now is a good time to jump into a full-time position in Western Canada. Send me an email (top right corner of the home page says “Email Us” if you are looking.

My own club, for example, needs a full-time Recreation Director pronto. On the job training provided.

I’ve long compared the starting salaries of gymnastics coaches with new teachers. The gap is closing steadily.

tumbling downhill

Tumbling downhill is standard progression for beginners — but I know it could be used much more with advanced athletes. Speed training, similar to that used by sprinters.

The best apparatus I ever built was a 40ft tumbling floor, slanted at about 10 degrees, constructed out of plywood. (I wish I had a photo.) It worked great!

For fun, tumble downhill on sand or grass.

George Novak, Ica, Peru. The world’s highest sand dunes.