Olympian Aldighieri picked to lead freestyle department | SteamboatToday.com

Olympian Aldighieri picked to lead freestyle department

— The plan for Bobby Aldighieri always was to get back to Steamboat Springs at some point.

His wife, Jessica Gray Maniaci, is born and bred in Steamboat, and Aldighieri spent five years after he retired from the U.S. Freestyle Skiing Team serving as the head moguls coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, not to mention plenty of time during his stint on the U.S. Ski Team in town.

It all came together this summer.

Aldighieri, a moguls skier in the 1992 Olympics, has spent the past three years coaching moguls for a program in Whistler, British Columbia. This was the last season for that program, as it was absorbed into the the Canadian national program.

At the same time, Erik Skinner stepped down after a dozen years as the freestyle skiing director with the Winter Sports Club.

"It definitely seems like it was a little serendipitous," Aldighieri said.

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Aldighieri on Tuesday was named to succeed Skinner, emerging from a pack of candidates to take over one of the Winter Sports Club's biggest and most successful programs.

"Bobby's coaching record and his history as a top-level skier make him an ideal director," Winter Sports Club Executive Director Jim Boyne said in a news release. "When he coached with the SSWSC in the past, he had some of the best athletes excel under his guidance, and we couldn't be more thrilled to see his passion and dedication return to spearhead the Freestyle department."

It's a task Aldighieri said he's been preparing for.

He's been coaching consistently since he retired from the U.S. Ski Team, including a period from 2001 to 2006 when he was a coach with the Canadian national team, including head coach for three years.

He and his wife had owned a home in Steamboat Springs all along, and Aldighieri said he's excited to return to use it.

He'll find a club far different from the one he left more than a decade ago. When he helped guide upcoming moguls skiers such as 2002 Olympic silver medalist Travis Mayer, moguls skiing dominated in the club.

That's still a large part of the freestyle department, but freeskiing sports such as slope-style and half-pipe have come into their own and first were included in the Olympics in February.

Building up both sides of the department is a priority, he said.

"When I was coaching with the club, freeskiing just wasn't a sport yet," he said. "We will embrace those sports and help those coaches teach fundamentals and progression to different tricks.

"That being said, culturally, the freeski side tends to have less structure, so you have to respect that culture and understand it's not going to be the same."

Aldighieri spent Tuesday doing what he loves, coaching freestyle skiing while working on a glacier above Whistler. He already was talking to Steamboat's coaches about his plans, worried about time at the Bald Eagle Lake water ramp and looking ahead to the winter.

He officially will start in September.

"I'm super excited," he said. "My wife and I are super psyched to get back into our house. We are certainly looking forward to getting home and working with the club again."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9