Ihor Barwinsky – Head Coach of APJ

    Ihor has been involved with competitive skiing since 1974 when he joined the original Jackrabbit group in Assiniboine Park, organized by Gord Konantz and Gary Coopland. He raced with the Manitoba Ski Team under the leadership of Jack Sasseville and Ted Bigelow. After racing, he carried on with skiing as an instructor and taught cross-country, downhill and Telemark skiing and groomed the Nordic trails at both Panorama and Sunshine Village.

In 1987 Ihor was a member of the Canadian delegation at the Banff Interski (big ski international instructor conference). Afterward, he completed his science degree and became coach of the Manitoba Cross Country Ski Team from 1994 to 2001.

His highlights were being on the coaching staff for the Canadian European World Cup tour in 1995 and the build-up to the Corner Brook Canada Games where Shannon Dikkema won the first gold medal for Manitoba on the opening day of competition. Ihor’s proudest moment was the 1999 Smithers Nationals where a very harmonious Manitoba team placed at least two skiers on the podium each day.

During this time he conducted coaching and instructor courses up to Level 3 as well as instructed cross-country skiing for the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Manitoba. After skiing for a living, Ihor trained Junior and NCAA hockey players in lifting and fitness with Focus Fitness. He is currently in the occupational safety and health business with several Winnipeg construction firms.

He still has his old balsa wood skis to show and try if anyone is interested. They are very slow.


Katherine Styrchak

IMG_6422Katherine comes to the APJ club with well over a decade of cross-country coaching experience… that is, cross-country running! Fortunately making the coaching transition from running to skiing was not too difficult. She has always been a recreational skier who loves to race so when she had kids she did not want to give that up. She strongly believes that cross-country skiing is the perfect sport for the whole family.

Her coaching partnership with Ihor began in 1999, shouting out split times and drinking a lot of coffee at Smithers Nationals and then again in Canmore.

Her daughters began skiing with Ihor’s APJ in 2008 at age 5, and continue on today as part of the bigger motors of the club. Katherine is also actively involved in biathlon.

Katherine has been coaching with the club since 2012. She loves watching young skiers smiling all the way down a hill and then scrambling back up again (using beautiful herringbone technique, of course!) only to do it all over again. She coaches because… it’s fun, she gets to work with some great coaches, and she can play Shark Attack all winter long!

Aside from skiing, Katherine’s work day is divided between providing lymphedema therapy at the WRHA’s Breast Health Centre and as owner/therapist at a private clinic.  In her “free” time (who has free time after kids?!) she bikes, canoes, kayaks, snowshoes, hikes with her husband and daughters, runs half-marathons, cooks, goes to the lake and captures wildlife on camera.  And occasionally vacuums.

Yan Lau

IMG_9420Yan began coaching with APJ in 2015; however, he has participated in the club with his speedy and competent daughter & son, Wei-An & Don-Han, for years previous to that.

Coach Yan has taken on distance running for a summer activity and has learned how not to chip his teeth when efforts get ugly. He possesses a deep biochemistry and physiology background, so he “gets it”.

Blaine & Mhairi Tully

Blaine and Mhairi (pronounced “Vary”) are parents to twins, Robert and Ailsa. They have been involved with the APJ club since 2011, and have benefited from excellent coaching and winter family time! Not being “rink people”, nordic skiing has been the Tully’s winter activity for many years. Blaine and Mhairi felt like it was time to contribute to the efforts of the club and give back some of the benefit their family has received over these past years. The Tully family is also experienced with biathlon and they have even gotten into some officiating as well!

While not out on the snow, Blaine and Mhairi are practicing veterinarians during the day and when not working with animals, they fill their time shuttling kids to various other activities.


Nastassja & Axelle Loiselle


These two have come on board as members of our APJ coaching team!  They are active in both in ski racing, and really getting into biathlon and are more than willing to help out wherever needed in the club.  Welcome to the team!

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