The Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club recently announced Branko Zagar as the new alpine program and race director. Zagar officially began his new job Aug, 1, 2017. Most recently, Zagar served as director of athletics at Sierra Nevada College (SNC) in Incline Village, N.V.
“Branko served as the head men’s and women’s alpine ski coach for a number of years and then agreed to take on the additional role as athletic director when the college expanded its intercollegiate athletic programs, joined the California Pacific Intercollegiate Athletic (CALPAC) conference, and became a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA),” wrote Dr. Alan G. Walker, president of Sierra Nevada College in a letter to the college regarding Zagar’s resignation.
During his time at SNC, Branko built a men’s and women’s alpine ski team that has taken home numerous team and individual national championships. To say he built a dynasty would not be an overstatement. He is highly regarded and respected by his peers nationally and internationally for his accomplishments at SNC.
Branko also provided critical leadership in support of SNC’s transition into the CALPAC conference and onto full membership in the NAIA. In addition, he has been a highly valued colleague on the college cabinet.
JHSC Executive Director Brian Krill was thrilled that Zagar was interested in coming to Jackson Hole to take on such an important leadership position after being so devoted to SNC for over a decade.
“We didn’t necessarily find him as much as he put his hat in the ring and we went after him,” Krill said. “He was not necessarily the traditional candidate. But once we peeled back all the things that he has done in his career, and knowing the various levels of expertise we need here both on and off the hill, he rose to the top of the pile. He represents the ability to go after various initiatives we have mapped out in the coming years.”
Zagar has accomplished quite a bit in his 25 years of professional ski coaching and administration. He spent a decade as a World Cup, Europa Cup and FIS head coach for a regional team in Slovenia. He also served as head alpine coach at Sierra Nevada College from 2006 to 2017, and remained as coach when he became the school’s director of athletics in 2011.
“He was the top-ranked junior slalom skier in the world back in the day,” Krill said. “He was a Slovenian National Alpine Team member and also coached athletes up to the Slovenian national team for nine years in a club setting. He has experience at every level as an athlete and a coach. He has a wealth of personal and professional experience about what it takes to succeed at the highest levels in the sport. He’s excited to bring that here and work with athletes over their whole junior career.”
Among the many factors that make Zagar a great fit for the position at JHSC are: his commitment to the academic-athletic balance of his athletes, his knowledge of and involvement with collegiate athletics, his leadership on the hill represented by many USCSA national titles, his vision in bringing on multiple new sports, his administrative experience in joining CalPac and NAIA, and ultimately his life-long devotion to the sport of ski racing and success in the sport.
“It is hard to imagine how we could have found a more highly qualified candidate for the position. Branko is already engaged, and we are excited to watch the Alpine Program unfold under his leadership,” added Bill Campbell, president of the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club.
Zagar said he loved his job in Nevada and had no interest in seeking a new position. However, when he found out about the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club’s opening, he said, it was an opportunity that was too good to ignore.
“Where the club wants to go, where they want to be … the club is very professional,” Zagar said. “That’s probably the main reason I want to be here. They want to be competitive.”
Zagar said he looks forward to sharing his Slovenian style of coaching with the club’s athletes.
“I bring experience. I bring a little bit different view,” he said. “I still have a European view of how alpine ski racing should be done.”
Zagar is expected to spend August transitioning into his new role.
Release from the Jackson Hole Ski Club