Australia is set to continue its proud history in Cross Country under the guidance of new Head Coach Valerio Leccardi, appointed by the Ski & Snowboard Australia Cross Country Committee.
The 32-year-old represented Switzerland at two World Championships and at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, as well as at over 40 World Cups.
“It’s great that I’ve been given the trust by SSA to coach the Australian athletes – they have a lot of potential and I am looking forward to help them achieving their goals,” Leccardi said.
“Giving up racing and training on a professional level was not easy for me. But by having the chance to pass on my passion and knowledge to the athletes will make the transition a lot easier. I am looking forward to also learning a lot from another perspective as a coach compared to an athlete. I feel privileged to still be able to do what I love, cross country skiing.”
— Aus XC Ski Team (@ausxc) February 3, 2017
Leccardi will officially take over the reigns full-time on May 1, and during the Australian winter will be based at the National Team Training Centre at Falls Creek. However, before then he will lead the Australian Team to the 2017 World Championship in Finland and at a number of World Cups, including the 2018 Winter Olympic test events in Pyeongchang this week.
“Our selection panel chose Valerio as the preferred candidate after interviews mid 2016, however a number of other factors needed to fall into place before he was able to accept our contract offer,” SSA Cross Country Program Director Finn Marsland said.
“In addition to his Swiss military coach education and extensive international competition experience, Valerio brings considerable insight from working under former US and Norwegian coach Trond Nystad and current Norwegian coach Tor-Arne Hetland. He has a good eye for ski technique, great knowledge of training principles, and already a strong rapport with the leading Australian athletes.”
Leccardi has spent several winters in Australia, winning the Kangaroo Hoppet in 2010, 2014 and 2015. He also has a personal connection having recently married three-time Australian Winter Olympian Esther Bottomley, who retired from international racing in 2015. Through his connections to Australia, Leccardi takes up the role of Head Coach with a number of relationships with the athletes ready to build on.
“Knowing many of the athletes and their living and training circumstances means that we are not starting from scratch when building their programs,” Leccardi said.
“They’re a great group of people that I’ve enjoyed training with and respected as athletes over the several years that we have competed against each other in Australia and overseas. I now look forward to continuing this relationship with them as a coach.”
The Pyeongchang test World Cup events begin on Friday February 2 with the Classic Sprint event. Five Australian athletes will take part in three days of competitions finishing up on Sunday.