Former Swedish head coach Per-Erik â€œPekenâ€ Ronnestrand (40) who was fired as the Swedish head coach this spring has been hired as the new head coach for the Chinese national cross country ski team.
– It feels like a big adventure, says Ronnestrand
The Swedish federation told Ronnestrand that he was no longer wanted as Swedish head coach during the World Cup races in Gothenburg this spring.
He has still not been told why he was let go:
– No, I don’t know what I did wrong, no one has told me. But I have put behind me what happened and moved on. Life is not focused around what’s going on with the Swedish Ski Federation, there is so much else.
â€œPekenâ€ got a number of coaching and administrative offers this spring, not only within cross country skiing.
He finally decided to go for the challenge of becoming China’s head coach, a job that he has already started in.
– I have been with the team twice in Vuokatti, Finland. There is a lot to work on, especially in regards to technique and equipment. The fitness level of the athletes is not bad, but the training distribution needs to improve. We have to work on that, on step at a time.
What’s your goal?
– That five women and five men qualifies for the Olympics in Torino. We need to participate in many competitions for that to happen since the skiers need less than 100 FIS-points to qualify (editors note: the fewer the points the better a skier is). I’m optimistic that this can happen.
How does the job work?
– It’s a tight organization. I’m the head coach with two assistant coaches below me. We also have a massage therapist and several service people/wax technicians. I have the main responsibility, but will also help with ski waxing. I will be involved in everything, laughs Ronnestrand.
The season premiere will be October 16 in Mora. China will participate with two female and two male skiers. These skiers will also race the opening sprint World Cup races in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Will you do all the World Cup races?
– No, we’ll do Dusseldorf, Beitostolen and Kuusamo before Christmas. We’ll pass on Vernon and Canmore and instead race frequently in Sweden and Norway.
When will you travel to China for the first time?
– That will be when we race the sprint and the Chinese Vasaloppet in Changchun. We’ll go back there later for the sprint World Cup race on March 15.
Have you learned any Chinese yet?
– No, you don’t learn that overnight. The problem is that the skiers don’t speak English either. I communicate with the coaches and the massage therapist. It works OK.
Are there any differences between coaching in Sweden and coaching Chinese skiers?
-Yes, it’s a cultural shock. Everything is completely different. I have to gradually adjust. You can’t go in and change everything.
How is the team?
– Exciting and positive. Everyone is happy and motivated. 14 skiers stayed in Vukatti from July 5 to September 5. No one complained.
Will you bring in any other Swedes to the staff?
– Former coordinator for the Swedish team, Janne Pettersson is already working with us. A few others will help out when we compete in Scandinavia.
– That’s one of the highlights of the season. The Olympic team will travel directly from Torino to Mora and prepare for the World Cup competitions, the women’s 45-kilometer on March 4 and the men’s 90-kilometer on March 5. We had one male skier in 26th place this year, so don’t think that the Chinese can’t ski fast and long. Two of the women also placed top 30 at Worlds. The potential is huge.
What’s the difference between this job and being the Swedish head coach?
– That I don’t need to sit on the phone for hours answering questions. It’s not much talk and lots of action. But it might be different if we talked the same language, says â€˜Pekenâ€ Ronnestrand
Complete article at http://www.skidsport.com