Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Grover lets Nordic Team spread its wings

NODP and the new coach

Racing at Lake Creek last weekend are Sun Valley Junior Nordic Comp Team racers, from left, Erin McQueen, Margii Driscoll, Ruth Anderson and Alexa Turzian.

Sun Valley Junior Nordic ski team head coach Rick Kapala is happy to have Alaska-born Chris Grover as his second-in-command for the 2004-05 season—and hopefully for many winters to come.

For one thing, Kapala coached Grover in high school cross-country skiing for two years in Alaska. More immediately, Grover provides a new dimension that enables the Sun Valley Nordic ski team to broaden its scope.

Kapala, approaching two decades as Sun Valley's Junior Nordic head coach, intends to implement a Nordic Olympic Development Program that will bridge a gap between high school and senior-level competition.

And Grover, who served five years in skier development on the U.S. Nordic Ski Team from 1999-2004 and finished his national team stint as U.S. Development Team Head Coach, is the man to fill that gap, said Kapala.

"Our goal is to have a year-round support system for our homegrown athletes and to supplement the local kids with other athletes from out-of-the-area who come here so they can continue to compete," he said.

Kapala added, "We're talking about four to eight athletes, not a lot. But with the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. in 2010, there's a number of athletes in our pipeline who could very likely be on the U.S. squad that year. And we have to think about it now, not in 2008.

"We're trying to fill a hole between programs like our junior team and those of the U.S. Nordic Team."

Grover was named Development Coach of the Year for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association in 2003. A Dartmouth College graduate in English Literature, he joined the USST in 1999. Before that, he coached three years for Sun Valley from 1995-97, then was head coach for the Mt. Bachelor Ski Education Foundation.

Kapala said, "Chris has served as an important coach for the national team. He's a person who blends high-level international racing with the challenges of coaching a junior program. He can shift gears well and really enjoys teenagers.

"He is also an excellent kick waxer and ski technician. He brings all the skills to the table. Chris has a family with two kids and he's happy to be back in the community. I'm hoping he'll be with us for a while."

Grover and his wife Svea and daughters Eva and Anja live in Hailey.

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