Understated and modest, newly-minted U16 National Training Group (NTG) head coach John Cashman prefers to spend his off-snow time putting his feet up at his family’s home in Pinecrest, Calif.
Armed with a no-nonsense approach to coaching, Cashman hopes to bring the U16 NTG group to new heights in the coming years, aiming to ready the athletes under his tutelage for success at the highest levels of the sport.
“When I first started coaching, I coached with a guy by the name of Chris Jones,” Cashman explained. “One thing he told me was ‘you gotta KISS it’ he’d say. And I was like, ‘What the heck is KISS?’ And he says, ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid!’” Naturally, Cashman took that advice to heart and has made it his credo ever since.
Ask any coach out there and most will agree that the ‘simple’ approach to coaching is much easier said than done. An incredibly calming presence on the hill, it goes without saying that Cashman has mastered this skill over a career that has spanned nearly a quarter-century, most recently as the Under 14 development manager for the Squaw Valley Ski Team, a position responsible for athlete development from the U10-U14 levels.
As a wet behind the ears 19-year-old, Cashman first cut his teeth at his home mountain of Bear Valley, Calif. “Back then, the race program was only weekends, so mid-week was PSIA for about two years until they got a more full-time program going,” he said.
In his racing days, Cashman looked up to the likes of fellow Bear Valley skier and former U.S. Ski Teamer, Olympian, and World Cup winner Kyle Rasmussen. “He was a little bit older than me,” noted Cashman. “He was the guy to look at. He was the big-dog at the hill.”
Although this is Cashman’s first national coaching gig, he is no stranger to coaching on an international level. He accompanied his daughter, Keely – then a second-year U16 – to the Longines Future Champions competition last December in Val d’Isere, France; a race in which she finished a respectable fourth despite a costly mistake. CNN caught up with the father-daughter duo during inspection that day:
In fact, all three of Cashman’s children have grown up to become some of the Far West Division’s top talents: third-year U19 Jordan narrowly missing the podium at the 2015 U18 National Championships super G, first-year U19 Keely on the FIS NTG, and first-year U16 Noah producing consistently strong results at the younger levels. Having a dad that knows a thing or two has nothing to do with it, obviously.
All joking aside, after talking to anyone who has worked with him, it becomes undeniably clear that it was really just a matter of time before Cashman piqued the curiosity of the USSA.
“Coming from the Squaw Valley Ski Team, John has established himself as one of the top coaches in the country,” said USSA Alpine Development Director Chip Knight. “Many of our elite level athletes have come out of the Squaw program, so I’m looking forward to seeing how John’s knowledge of athlete development will help prepare our best young athletes for success on the international stage.”
“I’m just super excited to be in the position I’m in,” Cashman added with a laugh. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Cashman isn’t the first coach to climb the rungs of the ladder and make it to the national stage, nor will he be the last. What sets him apart is a watchful eye and an uncanny instinct for identifying the needs of those he’s responsible for, regardless of skill level. If history is any indication of what the future holds, ‘Cashman’ is a name we should be hearing for years to come.
Video courtesy of CNN. Cover photo courtesy of Longines.