Ten years ago, Canadian ski racing legends Mike Janyk and Manuel Osborne-Paradis, joined forces to give back to the racing community through a fully-funded ski camp at Whistler Blackcomb. The four-day training session, coined the ‘Mike and Manny Camp,’ has seen over 140 young athletes attend since its inception.
Janyk and Osborne-Paradis achieved success and clout on the World Cup circuit through determination, world-class skills and financial sacrifices from family members. Once the guys started earning winnings on the World Cup circuit, they decided it was time to give back to young athletes that were feeling the same financial strain they once did. They set out to create a camp and environment for athletes, coaches and volunteers to experience the possibilities of their own dreams.
“When I started my career there were a lot of families at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club that helped me to be the best racer I could be,” said Osborne-Paradis. “I felt that as soon as I could make money in this sport, I should start giving time, energy and money back to the sport that has given me so much. That resonated a lot with Mike [Janyk] and we started the camp.”
Relying on sponsors, donors, volunteer coaches and staff, this camp capitalizes on the goodwill of the ski racing community to provide an opportunity for young ski racers that would otherwise not have the financial ability to afford it.
Athletes are selected based on age eligibility, ski racing passion and a financial status that wouldn’t otherwise afford them the opportunity to attend an off-season camp.
“The camp philosophy is mostly about enjoying racing and having fun,” said Osborne-Paradis. “We work on technical aspects of racing like picking the right line, but it’s also about living with the athletes, showing them World Cup athletes are just like regular people and any athlete can live to reach their dreams. But mostly, it’s all about having a good time.”
One of Alpine Canada’s own, Broderick Thompson, was a Mike and Manny Camp athlete in 2010.
“It was a big step for me because it showed me what being a national team athlete was like,” said Thompson. “It opened my eyes about what I needed to do to be on that level someday. Every kid that attends the camp has experiences they’ll never forget. They can all go back to their clubs and say, ‘wow, that was the best ski camp ever.’ For some athletes, they would never have the opportunity to attend an off-season camp of this calibre and see how World Cup athletes train.”
Now a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, Thompson remains involved with the Mike and Manny Camp stopping by to help with on-hill and dryland activities.
“Giving back is something I really hope to do in the future,” says Thompson. “I want to make a name for myself on the World Cup circuit so that I can offer up something like this to the next generation of racers in the future.”
To date, Janyk and Osborne-Paradis have raised over $150,000 in donations for the Mike and Manny Camp, as well as recruiting volunteers to donate countless hours, to run 10 years of camp sessions.
“The Mike and Manny Camp is our way of saying thank you to everyone who helped us reach our goals,” said Osborne-Paradis. “To our parents, coaches, supporters, sponsors and countless volunteers who keep our sport rolling in every weather condition imaginable, this camp is a nod to the people who give back. It’s a tough sport financially, physically and mentally and we wouldn’t have made it to the World Cup podium without the support of the innumerable people behind us. We hope that this camp can be a small stepping stone for the next generation of ski racers pursuing their dreams.”