NS Represented at National PN Development Camp

by Cross Country Nova Scotia, Staff, December 6, 2021

Skier Emma Archibald and Provincial Coach Lilla Roy – Attend

Canmore, Alberta: Nova Scotia ski team athlete, Emma Archibald, accepted an invitation to Nordiq Canada’s annual para-nordic development camp; held at the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park, in Canmore, Alberta, from November 20th – 25th. Skiers from across Canada were in attendance, including club and national team athletes. Two days of time trials also included participation by national team athletes from Great Britain, United States, and Japan. The camp offered athletes one-to-one coaching from provincial and national-level ski coaches. Nova Scotia provincial coach, Lila Roy, also attended. This was Archibald’s second year participating in the national camp.

“It was just an amazing start to the season, an amazing opportunity.”


“It was just an amazing start to the season, an amazing opportunity ” said Archibald. “The first couple of days it was the training camp. It was good to be back. The first time I went I had never been on skis and I was just trying to stand up, so this time, having a bit of background and being on the skis, I was able to take in more information and do more with it. The last time I was just getting used to the skis, but this time I could make tweaks, that was really good. I also felt more prepared going into the time trial.”

“Monday and Tuesday, Lilla and I did some long skis and explored. On Wednesday there was a classic time trial, 5 km. On Thursday, there was a skate time trial, which was 7.5 km. Those went really well.”

Results Time Trials

“It was just also so cool to see the national para-nordic skiers, like Natalie Wilkie and Mark Arendz. It was insane just watching them ski – inspiring seeing them and how fast they go; they are just great athletes. There was also an athlete from Japan who is a World Champion, and he was a no pole skier. It was so cool seeing him on the course, seeing his technique and trying to mimic it. That was a really, really, cool experience. It was a great experience to compete, but I also loved just watching them and taking in their technique.”

“The program was mostly one-to-one with a couple of coaches, for half-an-hour to an hour. I was with the BC coach who would work with me on technique – we would go for little skis, maybe some sprints, but it wasn’t necessarily an assigned work-out. It was a lot of technique and video coaching. Graham and Kate Boyd [high performance director, para-nordic] would take videos, so that you’re able to see what you look like doing that technique. There was another coach trainer who had a lot of insight. Lilla provided consistent coaching throughout the camp, while the other coaches rotated among all the athletes. We also went on some easy skis with athletes from Ontario and BC, so that was fun. With COVID, it was pretty strict, so we couldn’t mingle too much afterwards, athletes were working mostly individually with the coaches.”

“A pleasure to have Emma and Lila join us at the camp. And exciting to see so much progress and development – thanks to the support of coaches and programs from Cross Country Nova Scotia and UOttawa Nordiq.”


“There wasn’t a ton of snow in Canmore, yet. They had a 2.5 km loop that had perfect conditions. There was a good diversity between uphill and downhill sections. It was a pretty fair course.”

Camp Highlights

“For location and skiing-wise, Lilla and I had a great time, we went to Lake Louise one day, and they have a ton of snow, so there were a lot of nice trails we were able to ski on. We did a long ski there. That was just an amazing day.”

“Technique-wise, a highlight from the camp would be, just getting my big arm movements, the snap and it made a huge difference. I think before I was so focused on getting my balance that my arms were my last priority. Arms were a huge thing, and the knee drive – we really went into depth in pare-nordic technique.”

“I learned this week that I’m definitely a visual person. If someone was ahead of me skiing, I was trying to mimic their skiing. Rather than trying to understand the technique only from an explanation.”

Para-Nordic Classifications

“The first time I went to Canmore, I was classified as a para-nordic skier.” Emma was born with three fingers on each hand, and is missing her big toes, due to amniotic band syndrome. “Classification for me, involved seeing that there was a motion I wasn’t able to do [holding poles and pushing off]. They also had other para-athletes competing, nearby, who had similarities to me.” Classifications also determine final race times. As Emma explains, “for classic, 80 percent of the time it took me to race, will be my final time. They take away the percentage of time they believe poles would have helped. For skate, it’s 90% as poles aren’t as big of a factor. I’m impressed by the process, because everyone is different in their own way, so just being able to classify athletes , it’s a hard one for people to do.”

Classification is a system that levels the competitive playing field for athletes with physical disabilities. The classification system is designed to minimize the impact of the disability on the outcome of competition so that athletes succeed based on their sporting ability. Athletes are evaluated and grouped into sport classes defined by the degree of function presented by their disability. Visit Nordiq Canada’s website to learn more about classification.

Future Races

“I’m hoping to get out to some bigger races and keep improving. I’m definitely loving the sport. It would be nice to aim for the 2023 Canada Games and maybe the Paralympics in four years. Getting the base of loving the sport and loving the training [is very important], because when you get to higher levels that’s one of the most important things. This year I’m going to focus on getting some racing experience in, and doing some of the bigger events. After this weekend at the camp, just seeing everyone, it’s motivation to keep moving forward. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes.”

“There’s the Candy Cane Cup at Nakkertok on December 11th and 12th. I think I’ll do that and I heard it’s pretty big. I was looking through some pictures of previous years, and there looks like a pretty big mass start. I think that’s going to be a good first racing experience here… racing with that many people. There is also a para category, so I think I’ll sign up for that, to get the feel for what that’s like too.”

“I’m also looking at possibly doing nationals at Whistler, but that would be if I could get internationally classified.”

Getting Started in the Sport

Archibald was introduced to cross-country skiing through the 2019 Canadian Paralympic Committee athlete search. She had not previously participated in para-sports. Her mother saw a notice for the event and encouraged Emma to give it a try. After performing a battery of tests, one of several sports recommended for Emma was cross-country skiing. A few months later, she attended her first Nordiq Canada development camp. In 2020, Emma was named to the provincial ski team – development, and is a member of Scotia XC Ski Club.

Emma training during a provincial ski team camp at North Highlands Nordic, March 2021.

University of Ottawa Student and uOttawa Gee-Gees Ski Team Athlete

Emma is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Ottawa. Currently in her first year of studies, Archibald is also a member of the uOttawa Gee-Gees nordic ski team.

“There are about 20 – 30 athletes on the Gee-Gees team, and we train with the Carleton U Ravens a lot, with Fiona and Ogen [Nova Scotia ski team members], which has been so good. It’s a big team environment where everyone is so encouraging, it’s actually great, I just love the team environment – being able to train with people and everyone loving running, trail running, cross-training, and now we’re getting into skiing; everyone comes back from practice saying that was awesome, that was really fun.”

The uOttawa Gee-Gees team offers students an opportunity to ski and train competitively. Head coach, Sheila Kealey, assists athletes to develop training programs that are specific to individual athletes’ goals.

“For most of the cross-training we do running on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On the weekends we do roller-skiing at Gatineau Park – I honestly just love that. It was just so fun, and just being able to do the trail running and running as a group, so I really like that aspect. We do have access to the high performance centre, the gym, and we have a trainer who has been really good. It’s been a super cool experience to be in that gym environment and being able to learn all of these new exercises. They have a training plan, I never found I was super sore, we eased into it.”

“Most of our practices are in the morning, it’s a good start to your day, by the time I get back from practice most of my friends in residence are just waking up; then we go to meal hall. It’s been good in that sense.”

Ski Culture

“Cross-country skiing is such a great way to be active during the wintertime. It is a tough sport to learn, but it gets so much better. At the start, I did find it tough, obviously just being on skis, and seeing everyone else so graceful. The first year, even if it’s rough, it’s a long-term sport. It’s such a good way to spend time with friends and family… to be outdoors during the winter. I know lots of sports you’re obviously being active, but this one in particular, in the summer doing the hiking, running, and biking – I feel like it’s an all year-round promotion of health. It’s such a good sport for that.”


Emma Archibald #64 lining up at the start of a time trial at the para-nordic development camp.

Emma Archibald enjoying the trails during her week at the development camp.

Emma competes at the Candy Cane Cup on December 11th – 12th.

Emma (front row, right) participating in a post-secondary training camp. Fiona McClure, also a Nova Scotia ski team athlete participated (front row, 3rd from left).


>Nova Scotia Cross-Country Ski Team

>Scotia XC Ski Club

>uOttawa Gee-Gees Nordic Ski Team

>Canadian Paralympic Committee

>Nordiq Canada

>Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park

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