Freestyle coach |

Freestyle coach

St. Pierre trades in bumps for Australian surf

— Don St. Pierre has spent the past 15 years standing in the shadows of some of freestyle’s most successful mogul skiers.

He was in Salt Lake City the year Travis Mayer and Shannon Barke raced to silver medals. He was on hand in 2005 when Hannah Kearney, Nate Roberts and Toby Dawson took gold in Ruka, Finland, and he was there last winter under the lights when Dawson collected the Olympic bronze medal in Sauze de Oulx.

During his career, the Steamboat Springs resident has guided athletes to seven World Cup titles and 14 Olympic and World Championship medals.

“I’m planning on helping out with the fall camp, but that will be my last project with the U.S. team,” St. Pierre said Monday.

St. Pierre said the move should allow him to spend more time with his wife, former world champion moguls silver medalist Maria Despas, and his two young children. The family plans to spend the next few months in Steamboat Springs and then move to Australia in January. St Pierre said that’s where his wife’s family lives.

St. Pierre, the 1979 U.S. moguls champion, is a native of Springfield, Mass. and graduated from the University of Colorado in 1985. He coached with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and spent four years as coach of the Australian Freestyle Ski Team. He joined the U.S. Ski Team in 1992 and took over as moguls head coach following the 1998 season.

“It has been a great ride : a fun time,” St. Pierre said.

St. Pierre said that after more than a decade of traveling around the world, the time to settle down and spend more time with his young family has come. He wants to watch his children, who are 2 years and 9 months old, grow up.

He feels like the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team is on the right track. Despite losing several top skiers after the Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, to retirement, St. Pierre said he expects the American team to remain strong in the upcoming years. He credits the U.S. team with promoting freestyle and helping prepare athletes to give their best. And he also thinks that local clubs play a major role in developing talent.

“They do a phenomenal job of getting all the moving parts together for coaching and staging events and creating opportunities,” St. Pierre said. “Other countries aren’t as fortunate in having programs as good as what our divisions do every season.”

St Pierre said he hopes to spend his final few months in Steamboat Springs skiing with his family. It’s something he hasn’t had a lot of time to do in the past.

“I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve skied in Steamboat Springs the last 15 years,” he said. “I love it, and I’m going to miss it.”

The family will spend the holiday season in Steamboat before making the move to the milder climate in Australia.

“I will probably miss the cold and snow in December and January,” St. Pierre said. “It’s 112 degrees in the shadows down there that time of the year.”

U.S. Freestyle Program Director Polly-Jo Clark, who made the announcement, said Scott Rawles would succeed St. Pierre. She said she would miss St. Pierre.

“He’s seen a lot of changes and made such a huge difference to our moguls program, and he’ll be greatly missed,” Clark said.

Rawles, a former coach and World Cup organizer at Breckenridge, joined the U.S. coaching staff in the 2001 season. He has served a variety of roles, including strength and conditioning coach and NorAm development coach.

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