Olympic Champ Bergoust Named U.S. Aerials Coach
The next generation of U.S. Ski Team aerialists will get to learn from the best. Olympic gold medalist Eric Bergoust was named Freestyle Elite Aerials Assistant Coach, bringing ample amounts of experience as a coach and an elite athlete to the Team, having competed as an aerialist on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team for well over a decade.
"He is an Olympic Champion who represents the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team at the highest level," said Freestyle Program Director Todd Schirman. "His technical coaching, attitude, approachability and story of success are attributes that will help him complete our well rounded staff. We look forward to the next generation and having Eric as a role model, coach and mentor."
Bergoust will be stationed in Lake Placid, NY working with the USSA's Dmitriy Kavunov and the Elite Aerials Program. His main focus will be working with and recruiting athletes into the aerials pipeline.
"I can take the athletes we have and bring them to the next level, but more importantly we want to focus on recruiting," said Bergoust, who has experienced great success as an athlete as well as a coach. "There are some things you just can't teach athletes and recruiting has to be a huge part of any successful program.
"I am eager to get to see more participation, try new or different recruiting methods and learn from our successes and failures. I want to learn to be creative and think outside the box, experiment to see what works and to show more athletes how fun and rewarding it can be."
As an athlete, Bergoust experienced the rewards of aerials, winning Olympic gold in 1998, World Championships in 1999 and World Cup titles in 2001 and 2002. He also stood on top of the World Cup podium 15 times, clinching two Grand Prix Championships.
"Eric has had amazing success in USA aerials and brings a new face to the Talent ID program," said Schirman. "He has incredible knowledge of the sport, understands the challenges and is focused on the long term success of aerials."
Upon his athletic retirement, he never ventured outside of the realm of aerials. His innovative and creative ideas led to a unique and top of the line dry suit for summer water ramp training, which is presently used by the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, among other programs. However, he knew that his passion as an athlete would carry over to coaching when his career ended.
"I've been so passionate about aerials ever since I started that I assumed I was going to be a coach after I retired," said Bergoust. "Just because someone is a good athlete that doesn't necessarily mean they are going to be a good coach.
"I have always tried to pay close attention to all of the coaches that I have had and learn from them, listen to what they say and why they say it to the athletes and how the athletes respond, along with what leads to success, how to keep an athlete motivated and confident, why problems arise and why athletes plateau."
Bergoust hopes his passion and love for the sport will rub off on some of the athletes during the course of the upcoming 2010-11 winter season and beyond.
"I am excited to show kids how easy it is if you take the proper steps," said Bergoust. "It feels like nothing else on the planet, no other sport in the world."