Karl Denney named Coach of the Year by U.S. Ski Team
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Karl Denney joined an elite group of Nordic coaches in Steamboat Springs last week after a successful year on the snow. Denney was recognized by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association as the jumping and Nordic combined Coach of the Year.
“It was definitely a pleasant surprise,” Denney said. “We had some really good results this season, but, after I got the news that I got the award, I had to reflect on the season and kind of see what we have done differently over the past year or two and what brought us that success.”
Denney is the first to admit that he doesn’t always keep track of results, but this year, he made an effort to track and log each athlete’s progress. Coaches then used those logs to fine tune training efforts to the specific needs of each athlete.
That attention to detail helped the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club send 14 athletes to the junior championships and earn 17 of the 38 medals that were offered. Ten out of the 12 skiers he coached also landed on national teams. But once again, that isn’t his main focus, and Denney said he was just as proud of the two that were not named but achieved the goals they wanted to during the course of the season.
Denney thinks the team’s success also stems from an atmosphere that is focused on creating a fun atmosphere and shifting to a more team-oriented approach.
“I think one of the biggest reasons we have had that kind of success is because our focus has shifted away from just the strict training side of things and more on the team dynamic,” Denney said. “It’s an individual sport, but we are still a team, and we have to act like that it if we are going to succeed. So, we have put a lot of time into facilitating the teamwork between the kids, a lot of conflict resolution kind of stuff and just really reinforcing good habits … that’s been the biggest victory for us outside of all the team placements and achievements that are strictly on the athletic side.”
Denney said he is honored to get the recognition from the USSA and USA Nordic but pointed out that’s not necessarily how he measures success. He was the first coach from Steamboat to win Coach of the Year honors since Martin Bayer earned the honor in 2009 and 2007. Todd Wilson, Chris Gilbertson and Brain Tate have also won the award since 2000.
“The awards are great, but they are definitely not on my list of goals,” Denney said. “The biggest measure of success for us is that our numbers have grown so immensely. I’ve just seen it over the past 5 years. Our numbers just keep getting bigger and bigger, especially with the younger programs, which tells me we are making a more fun and enjoyable atmosphere built around our sport.”
So while it would be easy to focus on the successes Steamboat has enjoyed on the jump hill, Denney said he prefers to look at the 150 young athletes that are currently taking part in the program and strength of the program moving forward.
“I love it when the kids get on the podium, but it is a product of our main focus, which is to build an environment around these kids and then getting out of the way,” Denney said. “They want to get out there and be the best. All we have to do is set up an environment that allows that to happen. It’s not about me telling them to go do stuff
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