Riding the 2024 Coaching Carousel

Spring guarantees several things: rain showers, flowers, beach holidays and the coaching carousel taking a few spins as teams reset for the new training season.

With the 2026 Olympic Winter Games fast approaching, several teams including Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Ukraine, and Slovenia made coaching changes, while France solidified an important piece of their ongoing success.

Giachino in French Fold

French women’s shooting coach Jean-Paul Giachino signed on through the 2025/26 Olympic season after a spectacular season with three of his charges Julia Simon, Lou Jeanmonnot and Justine Braisaz Bouchet in the World Cup Total Score top 5. Giachino, guiding the women’s shooting fortunes for much of the past 15 years now pushed his retirement back another couple of years. Patrick Favre continues assisting both Giachino and men’s shooting coach Jean Pierre Amat.

IBU Cup Changes

Rachel Demangeat and Claire Breton have been replaced as French B Team coaches by World Cup Wax Tech expert Louis Deschamps and Bastine Moretti. Deschamps will return to the World Cup fold after summer training; winter plans for the B/IBU Cup team have yet to be announced.

Sandra Flunger Leads Swiss Women’s/Men’s Elite Team

Ten months before hosting the BMW IBU World Championships in Lenzerheide, Swiss Ski revamped their biathlon coaching staff.

After six years guiding the Swiss women’s team, Sandra Flunger was elevated effectively to Swiss Head Coach, heading the newly formed Elite Training Group 1, consisting of the team’s top men and women. Estonian Kein Einaste continues directing fitness/ski training. Flunger focuses on holistic training involving movement and shooting while Italian Andreas Kuppelwieser moves from the IBU Cup team up as a shooting-focused assistant. In this realignment, Men’s Coach Remo Krug was not retained.

Martin Janoušek takes over the IBU Cup group from Kuppelwieser while Selina Gasparin, hired several months ago coaches the Swiss Junior team.

Swiss-Ski Biathlon boss Lukas Keel explained, “We are convinced that we created the right framework and conditions at the elite level to tackle the coming season and be successful at the home 2025 IBU World Championships.”

Ricco Gross Out in Slovenia, Reappears in Lenzerheide

In a surprise move, Slovenia’s Head Coach Ricco Gross was not retained for the coming season by the federation, two years after taking over the top job. During his Slovenian tenure, Gross guided ex-cross-country skier Anamarija Lampic from complete novice to 17th in the World Cup Total Score this past season, with five top 10 finishes in just 49 World Cup starts. Slovenian biathlon legend Janez Maric who has worked as Gross’ assistant the last two years was elevated to Head Coach.

This week, Gross reappeared in Lenzerheide, where will be responsible for the newly founded training group for junior and elite athletes, according to news reports yesterday.

Nadija Bilova replaces Juraj Sanitra in Ukraine

Ukraine changed directions by not retaining Men’s Head Coach Juraj Sanitra. Ukrainian Biathlon President Ivan Krulko praised the Slovak veteran. “I would like to express great words of gratitude to Juraj Sanitra, who worked with our team for eight years and helped many athletes prove themselves at the World Cup level.”

Nadija Bilova who previously coached both the Ukrainian men and women on several occasions since the turn of the 21st century replaced Sanitra. Bilova’s biggest success came when Ukraine won the 2014 Women’s Olympic Relay Gold medal. Krulko added, “Nadija Bilova will give a serious boost to athletes who have given up and lost motivation.”

Big Changes in Czech Republic

Before the season ended, Shooting Coach Matthew Emmons left the Czech coaching ranks. Earlier this month, long-time Women’s Coach Egil Gjelland and assistant Jiri Holubec were replaced by Italian Luca Bormolini and Lucas Dostal.

At the same time, three-time Olympic medalist and most successful Czech biathlete ever Ondrej Moravec joined Michael Malek on the men’s team. In a press release, Moravec commented, “I perceived that now was the right moment to return. A lot of work can still be done in the two preparatory periods before the Olympics.” Czech Biathlon President Jiri Hamza explained the moves, “We felt that after an unsuccessful season, the national team needed a new impulse.”

Gösweiner Returns to World Cup

Reinhard Gösweiner who previously coached at every level in Austria returned to the World Cup fold as Women’s Head Coach, replacing Markus Fischer, now coaching Austria’s IBU Cup team. Gösweiner takes over the ever-improving women’s team that includes rising star Anna Gandler, Lisa Theresa Hauser and IBU Junior WCH medalist Anna Andexer. Gösweiner commented on his new position, “We have a large training group this year and our first goal will be to get all athletes on the same page… In the coming season we would like to take another step forward so that we can perform as well as possible at our big goal, the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.”

Clement Dumont Leaves Belgium

The coaching carousel started warming up before the season ended when Clement Dumont resigned as Belgium’s Head Coach. Four-time IBU YJWCH medalist and trained physiotherapist Dumont admitted splitting time between his practice and biathlon was very demanding, deciding to it was best to focus on his physiotherapist practice, leaving biathlon behind.

Andi Birnbacher Promotion

After serving as Germany’s Junior Women’s Coach, six-time World Cup winner Andi Birnbacher was promoted to the same position with Germany’s B (IBU Cup) team, taking over for Peter Sendel. Birnbacher was the guiding force behind rising junior stars including Selina Grotian, Johanna Puff, Julia Kink and Hanna Kebinger. Alexander Wolff replaced Birnbacher on the junior squad.

With these many changes, most teams are set for the two-year runup to Milan-Cortina 2026!

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Archive

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