Moose Jaw's Jadyn Palaschuk. (Photo courtesy: Jadyn Palaschuk/RBC Training Ground)
Discover Moose Jaw
July 5th, 2021
Moose Jaw’s Jadyn Palaschuk has never tried track cycling, so it came as a surprise when she was told by Cycling Canada that she has the potential to be a future Olympian in the sport.
After participating in the RBC Training Ground Olympic talent search, the 15-year-old Central Collegiate distance runner became one of only 20 athletes from across Canada to be selected by Cycling Canada to learn the sport and potentially join its elite NEXTGen program.
"I was kind of surprised when they told me because I thought I was pretty young considering this is an Olympic tryout with people up to 25 years old,” said Palaschuk. "I don’t have any experience with competitive cycling but I do go on bike rides for fun. “I feel really honoured to get this opportunity."
RBC Training Ground is free to any athletes between the ages of 14-25, and designed to help them see if they might be suited for an Olympic sport. The program finds athletes with raw potential, introduces them to sports they may not have considered, then provides them with the resources they need to excel on the world stage.
In 2019, Palaschuk won the SHSAA midget girls cross country gold medal. She was also part of Team Saskatchewan (U16) at the Royal Canadian Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where she ran the 1500m steeplechase, the 2000m race, and the 1600m medley relay.
“This was just a fun way to compete against other athletes and to really test my abilities,” said Palaschuk. "I’m excited to see what I can do in the sport."
Next up for Palaschuk is to get on a track with Cycling scouts and see how she feels on a bike, and how her endurance translates to cycling.
“Where we’ve had the most success of cross-over to date through RBC Training Ground has been in our sprint program, but we also have an endurance program,” said Jenny Trew, Cycling Canada’s NEXTGen Coach.
“In fact, all four of our athletes that are in our elite sprint program, for the women, came from RBC Training Ground, which is a pretty neat statistic.”
World record-setting track cyclist and Tokyo 2021 medal hopeful Kelsey Mitchell was a varsity soccer player at the University of Alberta when she met Cycling Canada representatives at an RBC Training Ground event in 2017. Mitchell’s women Sprint Track Cycling teammate Lauriane Genest is a former figure skater who also accelerated her Olympic dream through the program.
"Based on what we saw from Jadyn in the RBC Training Ground testing, in things like endurance and power, and her sport history, we’re excited to get her out on the track and see where it might lead,” said Trew.
Since shifting to a virtual system in October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants perform simple speed, power, and endurance tests at home and submit their results and sport history online (RBCTrainingGround.ca), for assessment by Olympic talent scouts from nine different Olympic sports who have certain benchmark results they are looking for. The tests include a vertical jump (power), beep test (endurance), and sprint (speed).
Some athletes participate in the program to potentially accelerate their development and earn funding in their existing sport. Others use it as a way to see how they measure up and to see what else might be out there. But all participating athletes have the chance to explore any sport that shows interest.
The top 100 athletes (based on benchmark testing and subsequent sport-specific testing by interested sports) will be selected to compete in the RBC Training Ground National Final and potentially earn funding support as an RBC Future Olympian. The National Final will take place in a time and format that places the utmost priority on the health and safety of participants. Since October more than 1,000 athletes from across the country have registered for the virtual version of the program.
In its six years of existence, RBC Training Ground has tested more than 9,000 athletes and provided $1.7 million in funding support to 117 different athletes identified through the program.
Participating sports include Boxing, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping, Speed Skating, Freestyle Ski, Cycling, Rowing, Rugby, and Canoe Kayak.