Orangeville native Alex Maycock representing Canada on the slopes

November 4, 2021   ·   0 Comments

Alex Maycock skis for Canada

By Constance Scrafield

An early start at the age of eight years old at Credit Meadows Public School, where there was a ski team; and chasing his older brother, Graham, on the ski trails, may well be a couple of the reasons for Alex Maycock’s subsequent skiing successes and his likely career in a skiing related profession.

He told the Citizen in a recent telephone interview, “Then, in high school, Orangeville District Secondary School (ODSS), I had quite a bit of success. I entered the Ontario Federation of School Athlete Association (OFSAA) Ontario High School Championships and I won twice there. 

“In grade 12,” he said, “I actually raced in Switzerland when I was 17.”

Explaining this last remarkable comment, Mr. Maycock added, “I qualified in some races in Utah at Soldier Hollow Nordic Centre, back in 2017. It was a Canadian trial races to qualify for World Junior Trial Races. I didn’t quite make it but I still had this opportunity to race overseas.”

Cross County Ontario organized the opportunity for 10 Ontario student-athletes to go Europe that year.

“They want the student-athletes to keep competing, in order to keep them up and give them good racing experience. Cross country skiing is a bit more popular and vigorous in Scandinavia and Europe than it is here, where hockey is more popular,” he explained.

Alex Maycock finished his Undergrad in the spring this year, at Nipissing University in North Bay, on Exercise and Environmental Physiology. Currently, he is working on his Masters – a two year program at Nipissing U. 

This is the grounding for his future: “I’m a Teaching Assistant for two courses, so, this is a little bit different. I’m getting into coaching as well. I can see myself [entering] into a skiing career, maybe coaching Varsity level guys my age. I’m up at Nipissing U for the next 24 months, straight six semesters.”

He went on to comment, “I think I learned a lot from the experience of racing in Switzerland and I think I’ve gotten even stronger since then.”

Mr. Maycock’s training and his conditioning is an entire life style. He told the Citizen that over the last decade, he has done a lot of hard work to get to this point, training about 600 to700 hours a year. Competing

“In the summer, I’m pretty lucky to have Hockley Valley. At the Third Line [EHS], I can do trail running and running with poles; running is a great motive.”

He elaborated, “I’m doing cross country running, doing eight kilometre runs this fall –I’ve done one already; it’s such a good way to prepare for the winter.”

To capture the feeling of skis in the summer months, Mr. Maycock also trains “with roller skis which are just a fancy roller blades and they are just a little bit longer and they imitate that feeling of skis.”

In 2019, Mr. Maycock was picked to represent Canada in Russia for the International University Sports Federation (FISU) World Student Games in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia in Russia, along with 135 other student-athletes.

“That moment, my first time to Russia, getting to the Moscow airport, I saw what life what like there and I saw how lucky I am to live in Canada.”

They were in Russia for two weeks, in an athlete village for the multi-sport games and he mentioned, “They had other student-athletes from all over the world.”

Next up is his trip with Team Canada to Lucerne, Switzerland for the FISU World University Winter Games, the largest winter games next to the Winter Olympics.

He told the Citizen, “I’m looking forward to Switzerland but the big thing there is the altitude: 1,300 metres. So, I’m going to Davos to train at 1,600 metres.”

The problem is that there is less oxygen at that altitude and a person coming from sea level has to physically adjust to it.

“For about ten days, I am in Davos and from December 10 to 22, I’m in Lucerne. This is giving me the chance to train at altitude in Davos.”

There are many reasons why this is an exciting prelude to the main event because this experience also ties in with his research for his Masters. This is really about the effect of the environment on athletes.

He continued: “Now we’re looking to increase red blood cells because those contain hemoglobin to protect the muscles. There is heat therapy that might have some effect but the best and most constructive way is for me to spend time in the altitudes.

“Initially, when you get there, some of the initial responses are hyperventilating; your heart rate response is to increase –that’s kind of a de-stresser but, ultimately, for the body to adapt, our kidneys excrete Erythropoietin [a hormone], released into the blood and that triggers bone marrow to create more red blood cells. We try to stay around homeostasis.” The balance between the body and a new environment.

Furthermore, he informed us, “I’ve raced in Canmore at 1,300 metres and I really noticed the effects coming from sea level; coming from sea level, you’re putting yourself five per cent behind competitors who are accustomed to the altitude and my goal is make myself as prepared as I can, coming into the competition.”

The whole ski contingent is seven people and the whole Canadian delegation is about 135.

“I’ve always been interested in being the best I can,” he began to outline his program, “by really maximizing nutrition and sleep; one of the things in my thesis is the effect of beet root juice help with vasodilation – widening up our blood vessels – even with people with high blood pressure, beet root juice has been used in clinical trials, from the point of cross-country skiers and the effects of beet root juice.

“In my study, I’m going to see how the athletes perform between altitude and sea level with beet root juice.”

He added that spinach and leafy greens also contain the same thing that beet root does: they contain nitrates.

“For my own study, we’re getting beet root shots from the UK. What’s interesting about that is that we’re having a placebo to see what happens to the nitrate beet root and the nitrate depleted beet root.”

Also observing, “That’s the key with research – when it’s fun that it’s something you can be passionate about it.”

At 22, once he has finished his Masters, Mr. Maycock will probably want to get some life and work experience. He sees himself working for high level teams in North America or Europe. He has a deep interest in the mountainous terrains, the physical effects of sports involvement there and meeting skiers from other countries.

None of the competing happens for free. Participation in Switzerland is paid for by the student-athletes themselves and Alex Maycock is looking to the community for support.

He outlined the costs, “That trip is going to cost about $8,000. My family, local community – Nipissing University was fortunate to give me money to go to Russia.

“Basically, any donations go toward offsetting the cost,” he said.

Not wanting to run a GoFundMe, he put it this way, “I think it’s better to keep it personal. I give back by writing blogs, telling people how it’s going; I send email updates and there are coaching tips on my website.

Above all, Alex Maycock is very proud and honoured to be representing Canada and Nipissing University at the FISU World University Winter Games in December.

For more information and to support Alex, here are his website and email address:

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