Alpine Canada disclosed additional staff changes for the upcoming season while announcing the departure of Paul Kristofic, who landed the position of women’s head alpine coach with the U.S. Ski Team.
Roland Pfeifer has been named head women’s combi coach, taking over the helm from Jim Pollock, who announced his retirement at the end of the competition season. Pollock worked for Canada in two separate stints totaling 15 years, with a two-year hiatus from 2006-2008, when he coached with the U.S. women’s technical team. He returned to Canada in 2008 as the head technical coach, a position he held until his retirement.
Pfeifer is best known for his prior role as head technical coach with the U.S. women, namely Mikaela Shiffrin. He worked with Shiffrin from her start on the national team in 2011 until a difference of opinion led to a team change — from the American women to men — in January of this season. During his tenure as the head U.S. women’s tech coach, he helped lead Shiffrin to 11 World Cup wins, two slalom globes, an Olympic gold medal, and a World Championship gold (she won an additional three World Cups and a World Championship gold after his departure).
On the speed side, Valerio Ghirardi has been named women’s World Cup speed coach. It is the first time in two years that Canada has employed a speed coach on the women’s side and had a formal speed team. The Italian Ghirardi spent the 2014-15 season as a coach for Tina Maze. Prior to last season, he worked as a private coach for the recently retired Spaniard, Carolina Ruiz Castillo, and also had a stint coaching the Italian women’s speed team.
Canada’s top speed skier, Larisa Yurkiw, has declined her nomination to the Canadian national team, despite the hiring of Ghirardi and the support from the team. She will continue to ski independently with Kurt Mayr leading her team, just as she did last season. Yurkiw is coming off the best season of her career, highlighted by her first-ever podium, a second-place finish in Cortina D’Ampezzo back in January.
On the men’s side, Paolo Deflorian has been promoted to the position of head combi coach. This promotion comes on the tails of the departure of former head coach Max Carca, who accepted a head coaching position with the Italian men’s team.
Deflorian has coached with Canada since 2013 under the leadership of Carca.