Upperton named head coach at WSC 

Former Olympian takes the reins for Whistler Sliding Centre

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ADAM TABER PHOTOGRAPHY/WHISTLER SPORT LEGACIES - PODIUM PEDIGREE Helen Upperton, shown here at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, was named as the Whistler Sliding Centre's head coach and sport manager.
  • Photo by Adam Taber Photography/Whistler Sport Legacies
  • PODIUM PEDIGREE Helen Upperton, shown here at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, was named as the Whistler Sliding Centre's head coach and sport manager.

Helen Upperton won an Olympic silver medal here in Whistler in 2010.

Six years later, the bobsleigh pilot is looking to help the next generation of athletes start down the road to their Olympic dreams.

Upperton was named the Whistler Sliding Centre's head coach and sport manager on Oct. 21, jumping right into the role.

As a coach, Upperton will mainly oversee bobsleigh, as that is her area of expertise, but will also provide support to the Discover programs in all three available sports: bobsleigh, luge and skeleton.

"It's always great to be able to coach and mentor young athletes. I had a lot of really great coaches in my career in the sport and I think it's nice to be able to give back and provide the same. There are a lot of great athletes here in the B.C. program that are looking to develop their skills," said Upperton, who previously coached at Calgary's WinSport Academy.

As someone who climbed the mountain to her sport's highest level, Upperton had a few voices helping show her the way as part of her journey. She credits the variety of approaches that helped boost her successful career and will mix-and-match from all her experiences to provide similar encouragement to the up-and-comers she welcomes.

"One of the best things that people can do as they grow and develop in their career is they can take the things that they learned and loved about he coaches that they had. I had some coaches that were really strict and disciplined which really helped me a lot as an athlete and made me work very hard on the track," she said. "I had some coaches that were really supportive and did a lot extra, spent lots of extra time on the track and put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it, especially early on in my career.

"My goal is to consider and take the best aspects of the people I've had coach me."

In her sport manager role, Upperton will look to have more young people at the track as participation has begun to slip after a big upshot following the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler.

"One of the other goals is to try to bring more athletes into the programs out here whether that's through talent identification camps or through the Discover Bobsled/Skeleton/Luge program," Upperton said. "We're in kind of a tricky place. The major city is a bit far away and there are so many winter sport activities that a lot of the kids are already doing... It's going to require a little bit of creativity.

"I'm really excited for the opportunity to help improve and grow the sport I love here in B.C."

Noting several sliding athletes have come from locales without close access to tracks like Saskatchewan and Ontario, Upperton added she hopes to attract athletes from beyond the corridor to pump up the programs.

"It would be great to see representatives on the national team from across the country. Whistler, the track here is so amazing and the facilities are so exceptional that I think a lot of people at Whistler Sport Legacies, and myself included, would love to see this become a bigger training centre for a lot of athletes in the sliding sports and for people to come here and use the facilities to try to grow and develop in the sport," she said. "If we can build a good provincial program here, I think there will be athletes who come to use the facilities here in Whistler."

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