Road To The Olympic Games


Justin Wadsworth steps down as Canada's cross-country ski team coach

Justin Wadsworth, the coach of Canada's cross-country ski team, has announced he will soon be taking a break to focus on family.

Former U.S. skier needs break from demands of high-performance sport

Canadian cross-country ski team coach Justin Wadsworth, left, stepped down from his position on Monday to spend more time with his wife, Canadian Olympian Beckie Scott, and their family. (Kerstin Joensson/The Associated Press)

Canada's cross-country ski team needs a new coach after Justin Wadsworth announced he is stepping down from the position Monday.

The former U.S. national team skier and the husband of Canadian Olympic gold medallist Beckie Scott said he needs a break from high-performance coaching and the constant international travel the sport requires.

"Beckie and I have dedicated nearly our entire lives almost exclusively to the sport of cross-country skiing — both as athletes and in coaching — but I feel now it is time to take a break, and concentrate my time on being a father and husband," Wadsworth said in a statement.

"Cross-country skiing is in our family's blood, but at some point it is time to step away. I look forward to watching the team's continued quest for the Olympic podium while spending some much-needed time at home."

The 48-year-old from Bend, Ore., lives in Canmore with Scott and their two children.

Wadsworth took over as head coach of the national team in 2010. Alex Harvey of Saint-Ferreol-Les-Neiges, Que., and Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., won world championship gold the following year in the men's team sprint.

Led team to record-setting results

Harvey and Kershaw also became the first Canadian men to be ranked in the top three in the World Cup overall standings during Wadsworth's tenure, with Kershaw placing second in 2011-12 and Harvey third in 2013-14.

"I was very fortunate to join a program that had a talented pool of athletes, a fantastic wax team, an established sport-science program, and experienced staff in place," Wadsworth said. "No program is successful without all of these core pieces in place."

Wadsworth rushed to the aid of skier Anton Gafarov during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, when the host team's skier crashed and broke a ski during the men's sprint. Wadsworth supplied Gafarov with a new ski.

His own Canadian team struggled in Sochi. The hoped-for first Olympic medal won by a Canadian man did not materialize.

Wadsworth oversaw a large host team of 26 in the eight-race Ski Tour Canada that concluded Saturday in Canmore. Harvey placed fifth overall among the 86 international men who started the series.

Wadsworth will coach at next week's national championship in Whitehorse before vacating the position.

"This is an unfortunate day for our sport in Canada, but Justin has been relentless in his pursuit of excellence. He has raised the bar, and allowed Canadian cross-country ski athletes to believe they too can be world champions," Cross Country Ski Canada high performance Tom Holland said.

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