Olympic medalist Liz McIntyre retires as national team moguls technical coachFormer Olympic medalist Liz McIntyre is retiring as U.S. Ski Team moguls technical coach, a job she took shortly after retiring from competition in 1998 following more than a decade of World Cup skiing. Athletes praised her selflessness. With her, two-time Olympian Jillian Vogtli said, “It’s always been about the athletes.”
“It’ll be quite new, having nothing to do with skiing,” McIntyre said, “but I’ve been doing it for a really long time and I think it’s time for me to do something else in my life. I’m not sure what that will be, but it’s time to let someone else come in and work with everyone.”
“Liz has been such a real blessing for us and did such an outstanding job. But she’s been through two Olympic cycles, and she wants some time for herself, and Liz doesn’t have to apologize for anything. We’re stoked because we’ve been able to have her working with our athletes this long,” said head coach Jeff Wintersteen.
Don St. Pierre, who convinced McIntyre to try coaching when she retired, added, “Liz has done it for eight years, and considering it’s been right on top of the 10 or 11 years of competing, she’s shown amazing tenacity … but that’s one of her strengths. She reinvented the wheel in many ways as a coach.
“I knew Liz as an athlete and knew she was tough, and, really, I never thought we’d end up with such a close relationship. But she’s always so full of ideas and so innovative. For her, it was as if every problem had eight solutions, and she’d find ’em all.
“I remember one time at Mount Hood, she had everyone skiing around with styrofoam blocks. She wanted them to think about squaring up their body; when you’re carrying a box, or blocks like that, it reveals whether you may be pitching one way or the other. She was always thinking,” St. Pierre said.
Toby Dawson, the reigning dual moguls world champion and Olympic bronze medalist in moguls in Torino, Italy, said McIntyre “had such a good sense of what an athlete needs. I think it may have helped her, going into coaching right after retiring from competition, because she was still right ‘there’ and knew right away.
“I made the ski team her first year as coach, and when I went to Wolf Creek and saw her as the head technical coach, it really motivated me to get it together …
“She pushed us,” Dawson said, “but it was never about her. I think she really helped us bond so strongly as a team. She had such a unique package of skills, such fresh ideas. Liz is leaving a big hole for the team to fill.”
He laughed as he recalled the boxes episode at Mount Hood and all the computer work she did in tracking judges’ scores and also in producing DVDs for athletes with their training and competition runs — and the runs of podium skiers, even non-U.S. athletes, all season.
“The boxes were meant to help stabilize our upper body, as well as our hands, and our team became known for a ‘quiet’ upper body and supple leg movement,” he said. “She really got it down to a science. I can’t believe anyone would sit in front of a computer that long. Liz is pretty special.”
Vogtli, the two-time Olympian and three-time U.S. champion, said, “She was my roommate when I first made the ski team. What a role model I had, and she’s always been there. I really feel like Liz is the glue of the team. What an incredible woman — in every way.
“She gave it everything, heart and soul. It’s never been about Liz — it’s always been about the athletes,” she said, echoing Dawson. “She coached from the heart.”
McIntyre, 41, won four World Cup events — incredibly, all in Tignes, France — and produced 18 other podium results during 11 seasons on the U.S. Ski Team. She competed in her first worlds in 1986 while a sophomore at Dartmouth College, skipped the 1990 season, and when she returned, McIntyre skied the best of her career, earning a spot on three Olympic teams.
She led the qualifying run at the 1994 Olympics, then collected the moguls silver medal in Lillehammer. She also competed in three World Championships, just missing the medals podium in 1989 in Oberjoch, then-West Germany, when she finished fourth. She teamed with Donna Weinbrecht and Ann Battelle to form their sport’s “Big Three” in moguls for much of the 1990s.
Wintersteen was a teammate of McIntyre before his own retirement from competition after the ’92 season. “I always thought she was a great teammate … and our relationship [as head coach to discipline coach] really evolved nicely. There are open communication and everything you needed. One of the things that made her a great coach was Liz never forgot her time as an athlete, so the athlete always came first with her.
“Liz felt this is the right time to retire and so we say ‘Thanks’ and wish her all the best,” he said. “She won’t be easy to replace.”
The Liz McIntyre report card:
– Three-time Olympian (1992, ’94, ’98)
– Olympic silver medalist in moguls (1994, Lillehammer)
– Four World Cup wins, all in Tignes, France (December of 1987, ’92, ’96, ’97)
– Eighteen other World Cup top 10s
– Injured left knee in training at 1995 worlds
– First World Cup: Jan. 17, 1986 (10th in moguls at Lake Placid, N.Y.)
– Final World Cup: March 10, 1998 (17th in duals at Hundfjallet, Sweden)
– Olympic medalists: Men – Travis Mayer (silver – SLC, ’02), Toby Dawson (bronze – Torino, ’06). Women – Shannon Bahrke (silver – SLC, ’02)
– World Championships medalists: Men – 2005 – Toby Dawson (gold – duals), Nate Roberts (gold – moguls), 2003 – Jeremy Bloom (gold – duals, silver – moguls), Toby Dawson (bronze – moguls and duals). Women – 2005 – Hannah Kearney (gold – moguls); 2003 – Michelle Roark (silver – moguls), Shannon Bahrke (bronze – duals); 1999 – Ann Battelle (gold – moguls, bronze – duals)
– World Cup champions: Men – Jeremy Bloom (moguls – 2002, ’05), Travis Cabral (moguls – 2003). Women – Shannon Bahrke (moguls – 2003)
– World Cup winners: Men – Jonny Moseley, Jeremy Bloom, Toby Dawson, Nate Roberts, Travis Cabral, Travis Mayer, Dave Babic and Travis Ramos. Women – Ann Battelle, Shannon Bahrke, Michelle Roark, Hannah Kearney, Jillian Vogtli and Hannah Hardaway