As the annual spring coaches’ shuffle continues, reports surfaced Thursday that head coach of the German women’s alpine team, Thomas Stauffer, who worked with Maria Hoefl-Riesch, will not be offered a contract renewal to continue with the squad. Stauffer, who previously coached with the Swiss Europa Cup team, the Swedish World Cup team, and the U.S. Ski Team, is unclear as to his next move at this time, while his successor in Germany is expected to be announced on Friday (April 11).
During Stauffer’s time as a coach in Germany, the women’s team collected three Olympic medals and four World Championships medals, the vast majority of which were won by Hoefl-Riesch. Hoefl-Riesch announced her immediate retirement from World Cup racing in March, and Stauffer has been unable to produce another consistent skier to rise into prominence. Viktoria Rebensburg, who showed the greatest promise in giant slalom, struggled with illness this season, as did a handful of her other teammates who were sick or injured throughout the winter.
Back in North America, Alberta Ski Team head men’s coach Richard Jagger is moving up to the national team after eight years as head coach on the provincial level. Jagger will serve as an assistant coach with the men’s combi and technical group competing on the Europa Cup and World Cup tours (previously referred to as ‘group three’).
“Alberta is my home and I am proud to have coached from the entry level to the provincial team,” said Jagger. “The goal has always been the same; to help children and young people pursue their dreams, teach them to ski fast and become great grown-ups.”
An influential presence in Canada who first started coaching in 1989, “Jags” (as he is known in the industry) built a solid resume through his work with Snow Valley Ski Club and Banff Alpine Racers before becoming assistant coach with the Alberta Ski Team (1999-2003) and then head coach of the men’s team for the past eight seasons.
Jagger has coached a marquee list of Canadian champions from the critical formative years within the provincial level to the national team. These include 2009 World Champion John Kucera, 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Jan Hudec, 2014 Olympian Trevor Philp, two-time Canadian Slalom Champion Erik Read, NCAA All-American Travis Dawson, World Cup athlete Paul Stutz, Canadian Ski Cross athletes Brady Leman and Tristan Tafel, as well as Canadian Alpine Ski Team alumni Cam Brewington and Michael Mackie.
“This is a great opportunity for Richard” said Alberta Alpine President Adam Hull. “His passion and experience in leading the AST is a big reason Alberta has been so prolific in moving athletes to the Canadian team. We know these qualities will be of enormous benefit to the athletes of the Canadian team, which includes several from Alberta. And it is critically important to have the provincial level and national level working together if Canada is to be successful at the international level. We wish him well at the World Cup and Europa Cup.”
Jagger will start his new position with Alpine Canada effective May 1. Current AST men’s assistant coach Duane Baird and Alberta Alpine athletics director Brett Zagozewski will provide technical direction for the program while a search is launched for a new men’s head coach.
Alberta Alpine contributed information for this article