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World Cup ski coach mulls future

Mark Fox/Summit DailyU.S. Ski Team coach and Old Snowmass resident John McBride shares a moment with his daughter, Ruby, following the Birds of Prey downhill at Beaver Creek.
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ASPEN ” Local John “Johno” McBride said earlier this week that he’s done as a coach with the U.S. Ski Team ” at least for now.

He recently told national team officials that he wouldn’t be back next season as the men’s combined coach. The decision stems from a desire to spend more time with his two young daughters, Ruby and Lucy, and his wife, Sunni, he said.

McBride, however, has failed at quitting before. He walked away from his job as the team’s head speed coach after the 2006 World Cup season, only for the team’s best skier, Bode Miller, to lure him back during the offseason.

McBride said his most recent decision had nothing to do with Miller’s announcement earlier this month that he, too, is severing ties with the national team. The split ends an often-contentious, 11-year relationship between the team and Miller, the 2005 overall World Cup champion, who is on the verge of breaking Phil Mahre’s U.S. record of 27 World Cup victories.

“I made that decision before he did,” said McBride, who agreed to return in a new capacity last season under the condition that he could return home monthly. “Those guys were looking for a full-time coach, and I just wasn’t ready to sign up for that. At this time, if they feel like the only people they want to hire are full time, I totally respect that. We talked about it and had some good conversations, but I wasn’t interested in signing on for a full-time deal again.”

McBride hasn’t ruled out coming back to the national team next season to coach skiercross. The sport will make its Olympic debut at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010, and McBride said the U.S. Ski Team is in the preliminary stages of putting together a skiercross roster.

That coaching job is one McBride said he would consider because the competitive skiercross schedule is much shorter than the World Cup season.

“It’s like 10 races in the whole season, and 70 percent of them are domestic,” McBride said. “Even if it was 20 races, that wouldn’t be that bad. The World Cup calendar is 44 races, all over the world, starting in October and ending in March.

“We’ll have to figure out how that’s going to work, but it’s something I’m kicking around.”

A number of likely U.S. Olympic skiercross racers are former World Cup racers with whom McBride has previously worked ” including former national team downhillers Casey Puckett, Daron Rahlves and Jake Fiala.

The less-demanding schedule was one of the reasons Rahlves and Fiala graduated to professional skiercross.

“I think that appeals to a lot of those guys,” McBride said. “Just not being away from home so much is more appealing. And 90 percent of the guys in skiercross are guys that I worked with and coached. It’d be like a homecoming with old friends.”

Even with the monthly trips back home during the winter, McBride said he actually worked 10 days more this past season than during the 2006 season.

McBride’s unofficial role as combined coach was to help Miller maintain his fitness ” a problem during a disappointing 2006 in which Miller failed to win an Olympic medal in five events.

“With all the conditioning and dryland stuff during the summer, it actually ended up being more,” McBride said. “That’s definitely one of the things that I need to work out with my own life, now that I have kids. I’ve got a lot invested in a lot of guys on that team, but I can’t just take on a full-time job ” at least one that is so set in its schedule.”


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