US Ski Team adds to development staff

PARK CITY, Utah — U.S. Ski & Snowboard has announced three new hires today that will impact the organization’s renewed focus on alpine ski racing development.

Marjan Cernigoj has been named head women’s development coach, while Martin Andersen will assume the role of Europa Cup Technical Coach and Sam Damon the role of Eastern Region Director.

These three new hires are a critical aspect of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s direction forward as they work to expose the nation’s best athletes at the development level to programming that will enable them to make the next big step to C Team, the podium at NorAms, and — down the road — the World Cup podium.

Cernigoj will be head men’s development coach Sasha Rearick’s counterpart on the women’s side. He is returning to the organization after 15 years of work with Canada, Slovenia and Russia at the World Cup level. Cernigoj previously served as women’s World Cup technical head coach and women’s head coach from 1998 to 2003 and has experience working in both the club and regional levels in the United States.

Cernigoj’s experience, in addition to Rearick’s, is something alpine development director Chip Knight is very optimistic about.

“With a wealth of World Cup and Olympic experience, in addition to having worked domestically at both the regional and club level,” Knight said. “Marjan knows what it takes for an athlete to go to the top of our sport. As we work to impact both individual athlete development and broader coaches’ education, our young women will benefit tremendously from Marjan’s knowledge and our club coaches will reap the rewards of being able to work closely with someone of his experience and stature.”

Hailing from Norway, Andersen started his coaching career with Kjetil Andre Aamodt. He also returns to the organization to take the lead with the Europa Cup technical team, after previously serving as both men’s World Cup technical head coach and men’s World Cup speed assistant coach for U.S. Ski & Snowboard. He has worked with U.S. Ski Team alumni Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves as well as Norway’s Aamodt, Lasse Kjus, and Aksel Lund Svindal and Finland’s Kalle Pallandar.

With more than 25 years of coaching experience in Norway, the United States and Finland from the club level to the top of the World Cup podium, Andersen brings vast knowledge to the development program.

“As a seasoned and successful coach with years of international experience,” Knight said. “I am excited to welcome Martin back to our team and I look forward to having him guide our young athletes from NorAms to the World Cup stage.”

Damon most recently served as U16 women’s head coach at Burke Mountain Academy. Knight is looking forward to seeing Damon translate his skills both as an athlete — he skied for Dartmouth College — and a coach, to this new role with the team.

“Sam’s broad range of athletic experiences in the Eastern Region — skiing and coaching in various programs and at multiple levels — will serve him well as he seeks to move the Region forward and include more athletes and clubs in the development pipeline,” Knight commented.  

Cernigoj, Andersen and Damon officially start today. Rearick hit the slopes with the men’s development crew for their initial camp in April to kick off the season and the new initiative, and Cernigoj will hit the ground running with the women’s development group’s first on-snow camp at Timberline Lodge Ski & Snowboard area in Mt. Hood, Oregon in three weeks.