The odds of seeing the maple leaf on the podium in Paris 2024 just got a whole lot better. On February 7, 2022, Equestrian Canada (EC) named Olympic champion Eric Lamaze as Technical Advisor (TA), Jumping and Chef D’Equipe for Canada’s national show jumping team.

“We are thrilled to welcome Eric to the position and are fortunate that he felt the timing was right to take on this challenge,” said Chair of EC’s Jumping Committee, Karen Sparks, who also sat on the hiring panel that selected Lamaze. “We are confident that he can build the national program, podium pathways, and be the leader the team needs now to be successful on the world stage.”

The legendary Lamaze is ready to pave the way for Canadian show jumping to make a comeback. “My goal is to make Canada a dominant nation in the sport of show jumping,” said Lamaze. And if anyone knows how to do that, it’s the 53-year-old athlete who has won gold, silver, and bronze medals in Olympic competitions and boasts an impressive and extensive list of jumping accomplishments – the most of any show jumper in Canadian equestrian history.

“I have competed in Europe for 28 years with the best riders in the world, and won every major Grand Prix, medals from every possible championship and I have held the coveted title of number one rider in the world for extended periods of time in 2008, 2010 and 2011.” He admits that there was something missing in his experiences. “What bothered me the most was that I didn’t have a Canadian team with me.”

Lamaze, and the hiring panel believe he can employ his reliance, passion, and expertise to build a great team and give other riders what he didn’t have at the height of his success. “I’m in a stage of my life where I want to spend most of my time giving my knowledge to other riders,” Lamaze mused. “My love for the Canadian team is something that I take very seriously. There is nothing like hearing the Canadian national anthem playing after a victory. We are going to make Canada proud.”

Leading Canadian riders, like the recently crowned top female rider in the world, Erynn Ballard, endorsed his appointment. “Eric is a huge asset to any Canadian rider,” she shared in a letter of support. “He’s supportive, helpful whether in the schooling and/or ringside, he’s watching and willing to provide his input. His ability to get the best performance possible is a talent like no other.”

The decision comes when time is of the essence. As announced in December 2021, the search process for a new Technical Advisor/Chef d’Équipe for Equestrian Jumping in Canada began as early as last summer, coinciding with the Tokyo Olympics. CEO Meg Krueger who has been at the helm since February 2021 knows how pivotal this role is for helping the maple leaf succeed at all levels in the Olympic discipline going into the next quadrennial cycle.

Krueger wasn’t surprised that Lamaze made clear his desire to get to work before the ink on his contract was dry. “What is typically a four-year cycle, due to the one-year pandemic delay,” she explained, “means we’re already heading to the World Championships this August.” Lamaze’s application clearly articulated that he knows what the TA needs to do to begin monitoring the national team and securing invitations for the 2022 season already this February.

Both Krueger and the committee know his track record speaks for itself and felt strongly that Lamaze has the ability to inspire equestrians who love the sport but that he also has a broader appeal with all Canadians. “Eric’s story is inspirational,” said Krueger. “Our athletes and our country can connect with his story and his grit. He started out working in the barn for time in the saddle and made it to the top of the sport in the world – and kept winning consistently. He is a true Canadian equestrian ambassador.”

Lamaze recounted humbly that it wasn’t always easy, but that it is part of what he can impart on members of Canada’s Equestrian Team. “My path here was not always smooth, it was devastating at times,” he shared. “But I saw my way through it to become even better and stronger for it.” Sport psychologists and coaches have agreed for decades, and the research supports it. “Resilience is the most important quality in a team rider; you must be brave and never give up,” shared the three-time Olympian. “I hope that I can be an example and an inspiration for this generation of Canadian riders and for generations to come.”

But for now, he’s rolling up his sleeves and getting to work together with Sparks and the Jumping Committee, EC’s high-performance group, athletes, and support teams. Get your flags ready, Canada. 

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