The younger sister of former ski coach Bertrand Charest is testifying for the defence at his sex assault trial.

Isabelle Charest told the court today that when she was skiing competitively in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was common for coaches to rub the legs and buttocks of ski students to keep them warm.

She said she spent time with her brother's ski team between 1995 and 1997 and says the atmosphere within the group was fun and friendly.

The accused is on trial on 57 charges, including sexual assault and breach of trust, in connection with 12 alleged victims between the ages of 12 and 19 during the 1990s.

The prosecution wrapped up its case last Friday at the trial taking place at the courthouse in Saint-Jérôme, Que.

The defence said it plans to call its final witness by Wednesday and has scheduled to start closing arguments Friday. 

Sister recalls strict training environment

In court Monday, Isabelle Charest recalled how, when they were kids, she and her brother would fight like "cats and dogs," but they grew closer when she started competing more seriously at the age of 13.  

Describing her brother's personality, Charest said "he wants us to be able to laugh at ourselves."

"We laughed a lot around my brother," she said.

She said she felt "proud" to have her place among skiers.

She told the court that athletes trained in a strict environment. They were weighed and their diet monitored. 

It also wasn't unusual for female athletes to be prescribed birth control pills to regulate their monthly cycles — if they were affected by intense training, she said.

Bertrand Charest did not take the stand Monday.

Now 51, he worked with Alpine Canada's women's development team between 1996 and 1998.

Several witnesses testified to having had sexual relationships with Charest and have said he was controlling and
manipulative toward the athletes whose careers he managed.

The allegations date back to the 1990s and involve locations such as Whistler, B.C., New Zealand, Italy and the United States.

with files from CBC's Sudha Krishnan