Big hockey talent comes to Park City in small packages
July 4, 2008
Of course, Park City attracts the world’s best skiers for much of the year, but for three weeks in July it also attracts some of the best young hockey talent in the United States.
Claude Lemieux, a former player in the National Hockey League, founded the camp with long-time friend Ron Filion last year. Lemieux took notice of Park City after the Olympics and judged that the facilities here made it an appropriate place to continue his life-long teaching of hockey. Lemieux and Filion also identified Park City as a good location for parents and children to spend some recreational time enjoying the activities the area has to offer.
The Claude Lemieux Hockey Academy brings some of the most gifted young hockey players in the United States to Park City for one-to two-week intensive hockey camps. Many of the 8 to 18-year-old athletes who participate in the camp play at the AAA level, an extremely high competitive category of traveling hockey, and virtually all of the athletes are invited to participate. Lemieux said that they scout and meet athletes from as far as away as Alaska.
"They all dream of someday playing in the NHL," said Lemieux, but "we encourage them of thinking college as a first goal." Although Lemieux recognizes that the road to the NHL is extremely difficult, it is, he said, "realistic to think that some of the kids we’re going to train are going to play at the pro level."
Lemieux hopes that with such talented invitees, athletes will have "a chance to see some strong competition" and benefit from playing others from outside their usual territory. Many of the kids whom Lemieux sees around the country show interest in playing at the camp, but he selects only the best among them to insure a high level
The coaching at the camp is also at a level commensurate with the talent of the players. For the camp, Lemieux has the assistance of the Phoenix Coyotes’ head skating coach and a reknowned stick-skills coach as well. Lemieux, also uses the knowledge of hockey gained from 20 years as a pro to instruct the athletes.
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Off the ice, the Academy integrates methods of training such as yoga and other off-ice exercise. Yoga, to Lemieux, is an opportunity to teach kids how to stretch because it worries him that there are "kids who are 5 years old and 40 to 50 percent less flexible than I am." Other off-ice training stirs children to increase their agility through running and calisthenics.
The camp began on June 30 and will run for three weeks. The first two weeks will be populated solely by invited athletes. The final week is open to all young people with an interest in improving their hockey skills. For more information, call Dennis Filion at (602) 615-7156.