Thalia Krauth-Ibarz, Strenght and Conditioning at INS Québec, and Jonathan Daigle, member of the Québec parahockey team. (Credit: Parahockey Montréal)
THE TEAM BEHIND THE TEAM OR THE INS QUÉBEC ADVANTAGE
The proportion of Quebec athletes who make it to the Canadian parahockey team has been increasing steadily over the past few years and this is not by chance. In addition to the hard work of the players and their coaches, there is also the work of specialists from the Institut national du sport du Québec (INS Québec) who have been supporting this group in a concrete way since 2020.
“It is the logical continuation of things. What has been sown in the last few years in Québec in the First Presence program, which allows to offer equipment at a lower cost for initiation, means that today, our pool of players has increased,” says Maxime Gagnon, the coach of the Québec team. “During the pandemic, we kept these young people stimulated and we maintained contact with them. These are things that the other provinces did not do.
The other reason for this tremendous boost is the help from INS Québec. This contribution comes mainly from the scientific and medical-sports services, as well as the support program for the regional training centers.
Six Quebecers will represent the country at the World Championships to be held in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, from May 28 to June 4.
This is a much higher proportion than in other Canadian parasport teams such as the women’s and men’s wheelchair basketball teams or the wheelchair rugby team.
Thalia Krauth-Ibarz and Simon Blais, strength and conditioning intern.
(Credit: Parahockey Montréal)
The best for the best
On- and off-ice physical evaluation tests, mental performance follow-ups and nutrition workshops are all examples of projects implemented by INS Québec staff. These initiatives were coordinated by high-performance sport advisor Caroline Truchon and Martin Roy, Pathway to Excellence advisor. They are true “facilitators” in the eyes of the coach who led his team to the Canadian title last year. A first in five years for the Québec team.
“It’s with people like that who trust us that we can play more games. In fact, the players on Team Québec have played more games than Team Canada (over the past year).”
But even with the best specialists, rookies need a little push in the back from veterans to realize how beneficial those services can be, the Québec pilot recalls.
“At first, they didn’t see the importance of it. However, the Quebecers on the national team quickly saw the benefits. Paralympians like Dominic Larocque or Anton Jacobs-Webb who have been in the program for a long time talk to my recruits about it and they see the benefits.
To support his claim, Gagnon cites as an example that his team played the Ontario team two weekends in a row last winter.
“We were in the rhythm all the time and the others (the Ontarians), when they came back the next weekend, they were worned out and bruised. […] It’s a good thing. […] That’s when we saw the difference that our investment in the Institute’s services made.”
The man who also heads the Défi sportif AlterGo recalls that his players were tired after their 15-game season last year. This season, they played 24 games and kept up the pace.
The collaboration between INS Québec and the Québec Parahockey team will continue. The next step will be the implementation of a Synergic Project on sled positioning for athletes with only one hip. This project will be led by doctoral student and Paralympian in wheelchair basketball and paranordic skiing, Cindy Ouellet.
“All these services from the Institute and this whole team make us better. And the players come to Hockey Canada evaluations in better shape. […] The athletes are taken care of and they stay longer in the programs.”
Maxime Gagnon’s protégés demonstrated this again last weekend at the Canadian Championship in Boucherville, winning a second consecutive title.