Whistlers Rob Boyd got his first taste of coaching the Canadian Alpine Ski Team back in 2002 when he joined the national team for the Salt Lake City Olympics. It was a temporary post, but the experience was enough to convince Boyd that his future lay in coaching.
The former World Cup downhiller was then hired by the Whistler Mountain Ski Club the following season, and has spent the last two winters as the head coach for their successful K2 program.
His goal from the beginning was to return to the national team as a coach, something that happened a lot sooner than even he expected.
"I didnt think it would happen this quickly, but there clearly was a wide opening, and it was the perfect opportunity to step into," said Boyd.
"I was more than a little bit flattered. At first I didnt think I was ready for it, partly because I was so involved with the club here, but after taking the time to learn more about the program I was more aware of the potential."
Boyd first heard about the opportunity in April, and took a couple of months to think it over. The appointment became official on Tuesday, when Alpine Canada Alpin President Ken Read made the announcement at a press conference in Vancouver.
At first Boyd was hesitant to accept the job because it would mean a lot of time on the road away from Whistler and his wife. He knew he would also miss working with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club.
"The two years with the club were great, its run so well and its a great organizations. I knew Id miss the athletes especially, working with them, building that group up together. I had some ideas and some new projects for next year, and things were progressing," said Boyd.
One of the factors that convinced Boyd to step up to the national team was the support network of coaches, trainers and advisors that were involved with the program. Hell be working closely with downhill head coach Piotr Jelen, technical coach Jim Pollock and head coach Hughes Ansermoz.
"Ill be able to focus more of my time on coaching the athletes while others take care of all the other stuff, which is the part we love as coaches," said Boyd.
Boyd will be going from working with a group of 40 kids to coaching Canadian alpine stars Genevieve Simard of Val-Morin, Quebec and Emily Brydon of Fernie in the super giant slalom and giant slalom events. There will also be opportunities to work with the other athletes, including world downhill champion Melanie Turgeon, by assisting the downhill and technical coaches.
Boyd recognizes that he is joining the team at a critical time. The upcoming season is a World Championship year as well as a qualifier year for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy.
"I wouldnt call it pressure, its more of an opportunity to learn what is required as we train for the World Championships and Olympics," said Boyd. "I want to have that build-up and experience under my belt for 2010."
Ken Read, who is also a former downhill racer, welcomed Boyd to the team.
"Boyd is a winner and his mandate is to create winners for Canada," said Read, noting Boyds work ethic, his Olympic experience, and his years of coaching.
"The appointment of Rob is another major milestone in our program to provide athletes with the technical, human and financial resources required to win against the best in the world.
"His passion for the sport is renowned, his dedication to racing unwavering, and the record book tells you about his commitment to winning."
Boyd is Canadas most successful male racer since the Crazy Canuck era. He is the last Canadian to win a World Cup downhill race at home, winning in Whistler back in 1989.
He retired in 1997 with three World Cup gold medals, six podium appearances, and 28 top-15 appearances.
Brydon, who made a comeback on the World Cup circuit last season after back-to-back knee injuries in previous seasons, said she is looking forward to working with Boyd.
"To bring a skiing legend, a great Canadian racer into the program at this time is simply awesome for us," said Brydon. "Success doesnt happen overnight. It takes hard work. This is a great step forward for 2006 and for our ultimate goal of the 2010 Olympics."
Boyd will take over his coaching duties in August when he joins the Canadian Alpine Ski Team for their training camp in Valle Nevado, Chile.