Steamboat’s Jarrett retires after historic run with U.S. nordic combined team
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — He was there as an athlete at the 1994 and 1998 Olympics; he was there as a coach in 2010, when the Americans dominated, bringing home four medals (three silver and one gold) from Whistler; and he has been there the past 15 years helping guide the U.S. nordic combined team’s success.
But on Friday, U.S. nordic combined coach Dave Jarrett, who helped the U.S. nordic combined team bring home 11 Olympic and World Championships medals between 2003 and 2013, announced he is leaving the team only nine months before the start of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
“Going into an Olympic year, it was a tough decision,” Jarrett said. “But I had an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I was getting tired, and this job takes a toll. It’s not like it sneaks up on you gradually. … It hit me hard when I sat down and looked at another long trip, another plane ticket.”
Jarrett said his decision was a combination of different things that all came together at the same time. He said he wanted to spend more time at home with his wife, Kelly, and his children, Jack and Angela. Jack is 14 and will be entering high school next year, and Angela will turn 13 in a couple of weeks.
Jarrett also has an opportunity to open an Athletic Republic franchise, a speed and agility gym where he lives in Heber City, Utah. The company is based out of Park City, and Jarrett plans to open his business in the same building with a physical therapist.
“It all played into it,” Jarrett said. “You have to balance everything, and if you are going at things on a lot of different fronts it’s not fair to anybody. It’s time (to move on), and I have a great opportunity. I’ve been coaching the team for so long, and I really didn’t have an exit strategy. When this opportunity came about, it was clear, and I will be going at it full bore.”
Jarrett grew up in Steamboat Springs and competed with the U.S. nordic combined team from 1992 to 1998. He competed in the 1994 Olympic Games, when the American team placed seventh in the team event, and again in the 1998 Olympic Games.
After retiring in 1998, he began a successful coaching career while finishing his degree in exercise physiology in 2000 at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He started coaching while he was a student at the University of Colorado and continued after graduation. He helped start the nordic program at Soldier Hollow, the venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Following the 2002 Olympics, he took a job with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team’s nordic combined program and was promoted to head coach in 2008.
Under his leadership, the team raced to historic success, including the 2009 World Championships in the Czech Republic, where the Americans earned three gold medals and a silver.
“Obviously, he was a very important piece on our team,” former Nordic combined skier and Olympic medalist Johnny Spillane said. “He orchestrated the entire thing and made it easy for us to do our jobs.”
The height of the team’s success, however, may have come in 2010, when Spillane became the first American to win an Olympic medal in what would become the greatest American showing for a nordic combined team at the Olympics. A few days later, Spillane’s teammate, Billy Demong, added a gold medal in the large hill event and another as Spillane raced to the silver. The Americans also earned a silver in the team event.
“The hardware stands out, no doubt,” Jarrett said, when asked what he will remember from his years of coaching the team. “But it was special to watch Bill Demong, a teammate, win an Olympic medal — and the same for Johnny. It was also rewarding to watch them take what they did in skiing and move on afterwards … I don’t have one singular memory that stands out.”
Spillane said he wasn’t entirely surprised by Jarrett’s decision to step down in advance of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which will take place in February in PyeongChang, South Korea. Spillane retired in April 2013, just months before the Sochi Games.
“I think when you are ready to move on, you are ready to move on,” Spillane said. “Once you lose the passion, it’s time to move on. Dave did it right for a long time.”
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The VISA Big Air World Cup kicked off Thursday at Steamboat Resort with snowboard qualifications, including two men’s heats in the morning and one women’s heat in the afternoon. The top 10 men made the finals, scheduled for Saturday, while the top eight women qualified for the finals.