Riding the 2020 Coaching Carousel
In a spring disrupted by the coronavirus epidemic, half-way point to the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games, the coaching carousel has been spinning as fast as ever. Among the most significant are changes and realignments in France, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Ukraine, Sweden, and Belarus.
French Women’s Team: Giachino Behind the Scope
One of the biggest changes came unexpectedly for the French Women’s team as shooting guru Franck Badiou left his position as shooting coach. He was replaced by the equally well qualified and experienced Jean Paul Giachino. The 47-year-old Giachino was previously the women’s shooting coach from 2007-2018. Most recently, he was shooting coach for the French juniors working alongside Junior Head Coach Simon Fourcade.
Time Goes Quickly
Regarding the move back to his familiar spot behind the scope for the BMW IBU World Cup team, Giachino commented, according to Ski Chrono, “When I was offered the job, I was surprised. I discussed it with my wife. I am sorry to leave the juniors, but I am still attracted to the World Cup. I know the circuit well and the girls know me. I have no magic wand but convictions and philosophy. The girls had a good season but they lacked consistency in shooting. We have a job to do and no time to waste. There are two years before the Olympics; the time will go very quickly.”
Ondřej Rybář Returns as Men’s Head Coach in Czech Republic
Ondřej Rybář who moved from position of Men’s Head Coach to Sporting Director for Czech Republic after Pyeongchang 2018 has moved back to that spot. He will also retain his management position. Rybar was at the helm guiding the Czech team became a biathlon power in the last decade. He left to travel less and spend more time with his growing family.
With Rybar’s return to direct coaching, Aleš Liguan will work as his assistant. Zdeněk Vitek has moved from the men’s team to B Team (IBU Cup) Coach.
Rybar commented on the moves. “I don't see it as a radical change. There are still people around the team who have been working together for a long time. I would rather say that we regrouped the team a little and redistributed our work activities. We are looking for the best way to handle a demanding program. Bleky (Vitek) also announced in advance that he would like to devote a little more time to his family. From coaches to service, we try to do our job as best we can, but of course, like everyone else, we also deal with personal life. That's why sometimes such a regrouping takes place.”
He continued regarding his and Liguan’s daily tasks, adding that he will not attend every competition or training camp. "Aleš will go through the whole World Cup. It will be a big school for him. My position is not about everyday work with athletes, but about setting a common philosophy.”
Hönig Moves from Germany to Austria
Another big change on the shooting range is Gerald Hönig”s move from Germany to Austria. The 61-year–old Hönig takes over as the Austrian Women’s Shooting Coach, working alongside Markus Fischer. Hönig was the German Women’s Head Coach from 2014-2018.
The veteran of 13 years on the German World Cup Team commented on his new position in Austria. “I would like thank the DSV for a wonderful time with great people and wonderful successes. I am fully motivated to tackle a new challenge. There is a lot of potential in the Austrian women’s team; Lisa Theresa Hauser and Katharina Innerhofer have already proved that. Our goal is to improve all the athletes individually…and fight for podium places.”
New German Shooting Coach
Replacing Hönig as shooting coach for the German team is another experienced veteran, Engelbert Sklorz. Sklorz coached Arnd Peiffer as well as at the Federal Police School in Bad Endorf. DSV Biathlon Sport Director Bernd Eisenbichler commented, “We are delighted to have Engelbert Sklorz; we will benefit with the experience of a proven shooting expert.”
At the same time, the DSV announced the former assistant women’s coach Tobias Reiter returned to the German team. Reiter will work with the 1b women alongside Peter Sendel, who has guided that group for several years.
Sweden Adds Veteran Staff
The Swedish team made big news when five-time Olympic cross-country medalist Stina Nilsson switched to biathlon, adding a new chapter to Sweden’s move-to-biathlon legacy of Magdalena Forsberg and Anna Karin (Olofsson) Zidek. At the same time, the federation made some significant moves behind the scenes.
National Team Manager Anna Maria Uusitalo
Former BMW IBU World Cup competitor Anna Maria (Nilsson) Uusitalo has been appointed Sports Manager, a position that replaced National Team Manager. Uusitalo will work directly with all of the elite teams, coordinate development, and manage coaches and resource personnel. The Swedish federation Secretary General Bengt Jonsson commented, “Anna Maria is a welcome addition to our Elite Center in Oestersund; her appointment has been well-received by athletes and coaches. It is nice to have a person who had grown up in our system and had many roles in the association.”
Jean Marc Chabloz
Four-time Swiss Olympian Chabloz, who has coached and worked in Sweden since 2003 was added as a second shooting coach for the Swedish World Cup team. Head Coach Johannes Lukas commented on the addition to his staff. “We had 12 athletes on the A team and only one shooting coach. This is right on the edge for doing individual instruction. So we decided to invest on the shooting side. Now with two people there, we hope to get some direct results in the winter.”
Sanitra Moves to Head Coach in Ukraine
Juraj Sanitra who has guided the Ukrainian men’s team for the last four years moved to Head Coach for both the men and women. The Slovak veteran, with years of experience will now monitor both squads in the run-up to the 2022 Beijing OWG. He told xsport.ua, “We need to have a good friendly team…I talked with all the athletes because it was important to know their opinions…I am sure everyone including the other coaches and staff will help me in this…I love big challenges in life…”
With Sanitra moving to the top job, Alexey Kravchenko and Roman Pryma will work as coaches for the men while Alexander Bilanenko and Igor Yashchenko will work with the women’s team.
Reinhard Gösweiner to Belarus
Former Austrian Men’s Coach Reinhard Gösweiner, most recently working with Austrian juniors is the new Women’s Coach for Belarus. Gösweiner brought Dominik Landertinger from promising junior to World Champion. He will work alongside ten-time IBU WCH medalist Oleg Ryzhenkov in a strong women’s team that includes 2018 Olympic Relay Gold medalists Iryna Kryuko and Dzinara Alimbekava. Another Austrian, Benjamin Eder, husband of Mari (Laukkanen) Eder, accompanied Gösweiner and will work with their service team next winter.
Andrei Padin, after years working in various coaching positions in the Russian team is now coaching the Belarusian men’s team.
Photos: IBU/Petr Slavik, Christian Manzoni, Jerry Kokesh, Svenska Skidskytteförbundet, Belarus Biathlon Federation