Steamboat Springs The U.S. Ski Team announced today longtime assistant coach Baard Joergen Elden has been named the new head coach of the U.S. Nordic Combined team.
Elden, 33, is a native of Norway and was a member of that country's Nordic combined team through 1997. Elden joined the U.S. Nordic Combined Team in 1999 as a development coach, a couple of years after retiring from World Cup competition.
"I'm really glad that Baard was named," combined team member Nathan Gerhart said. "He's an athlete's coach. He is honestly excited when we do well and he is honestly disappointed when we do bad."
Elden will replace former combined coach Tom Steitz, who resigned in late March after 14 years with the team. The Steamboat Springs native had been the team's head coach since 1992 and has built the American team into an international powerhouse during his reign.
Gerhart thinks Elden will be able to carry on the tradition of winning the team has built over the past decade, but he wasn't sure how things would change now that Eden is at the helm.
"I'm not really sure what to expect," Gerhart said on Tuesday from Park City. "But I know that Baard will do what is best for the athletes."
Elden will inherit a group of top skiers, including Steamboat Springs native Todd Lodwick and Vermontville, N.Y., skier Bill Demong. Both athletes won World Cup events last winter. There is also a promising group of future stars on the team including Steamboat's Gerhart and Johnny Spillane.
"What's most attractive about the position is that we have a really great group of athletes and we can expect a lot from them in the future," Elden said. "We have some of the best depth on the World Cup right now. Winning the World Cup B Nation's Cup this year is a great sign of that depth."