After 12 years with the U.S. Ski Team, Aerials Head Coach Matt Christensen will be retiring to take on a new role with Red Bull North America as acrobatic and air coach.
Christensen joined the team as an aerials coach in 1998, months after the U.S. aerialists swept Olympic gold in Nagano. He was named head coach in 2001. His three Olympics were bookended with silver medals from Joe Pack in 2002 and Jeret “Speedy” Peterson in 2010. A year ago, he was at the helm when Ryan St. Onge took the World Championship gold medal.
“The last two years of Matt’s career with us were exceptional, winning the world championship in 2009 and a silver medal last winter in Vancouver,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Vice President, Athletics Luke Bodensteiner. “Even though his team hadn’t had a single World Cup podium during the season leading up to the Olympics, he stayed focused on his plan and ultimately delivered at the Olympics. As a former USSA International Coach of the Year, we’re very proud of what Matt was able to accomplish with his team.”
Christensen was hired in October of 1998 as an aerials coach. In his first year with the team he remembers the 1999 World Juniors and World Championships well. He was a part of the initial growth and success of the aerials team.
“In my first year with the team I went to World Juniors. Parker Schmidt won, Ryan St. Onge was third, Emily Cook was third, so we took 50 percent of the medals. I was pretty psyched about that,” said Christensen. “That year at World Championships Eric Begoust won, Joe Pack was third, Nikki Stone was third so again, and we took 50 percent of medals at both juniors and Worlds.”
During Christensen’s tenure with the team, he shared great success with the athletes. At the 2009 World Championships, three women finished in the top seven, in fourth, fifth and seventh. The streak continued through the Olympics with three women qualifying for the finals, the first time since Stone, the only woman to qualify in U.S. history until 2010. Christensen was also a part of Peterson’s 2010 Olympic silver medal.
“I was psyched,” said Christensen “The biggest things were the progression, especially with the women’s team.
Christensen will be staying in the flying field, working for Red Bull North America as acrobatic and air awareness coach. His coaching expertise will be focused on athletes in three disciplines, freeride, snowboard and surf.
“I’m definitely going to miss the people at the USSA,” said Christensen. “But I’m really excited about my new job with Red Bull North America.”
Christensen plans to stay in the Park City area for the near future while doing contract work with Red Bull North America. Christensen hopes to build on the success and growth he experienced with the U.S. Ski Team at Red Bull.
According to Bodensteiner, the team is conducting a search for a replacement and expects to make an announcement shortly.