After five years as the head coach for the Norwegian national cross-country team, the 36-year-old calls it quits. He wants to spend more time with his family.
“It’s been a very emotional day for me, and I admit I have cried a few tears. It turned out to be a harder decision than what I had expected,” Djupvik said to NRK.
He spent Wednesday calling the team athletes to bring them the news. At 2:30pm, he called Petter Northug. Northug was taking a nap when the coach called. Djupvik recalled the “emotional” conversation like this:
“At first it was uncomfortably silent from the other end of the line. Then he asked if this was something I was considering or if I had made the decision. When I said I had made the decision, he was disappointed,” said Aa Djupvik, who has coached Northug as long as the star skier has been a part of the senior national team.
Northug has won 13 championship medals, including nine gold medals, with Aa Djupvik as the head national team coach.
150 travel days
Aa Djupvik took over as the head coach for the men’s cross-country team after the 2006 Olympic season. In January, he became a dad for the first time, when his son Emil was born. And it is exactly family considerations that led Aa Djupvik to resign.
“We have almost 150 travel days each year, and it is a challenge to combine that lifestyle with raising a family. I also feel that we are at a fork in the road right now. We just completed a World Championship season, and are now reloading for the next World Championships and the upcoming 2014 Olympics. So I think it’s in the best interest of the team that they get a new coach now who can commit at least until after the 2014 Sochi Games,” Aa Djupvik said.
Aa Djupvik explained that the decision is the result of a long evaluation both with himself and with his family.
The Norwegian national team has performed well under Aa Djupvik’s coaching tenure, but he has also been criticized for his leadership style.
Leading up to the 2011 World Championships, the athletes were asking for a tougher coach and clearer communication. He has also been criticized for the lack of performance for the team as a whole, aside from Petter Northug. But after the 2011 World Championships in Holmenkollen where Eldar Rønning, Tord Asle Gjerdalen and Martin Johnsrud Sundby all earned individual medals, the critical voices died down. And the 2011 Worlds in Holmenkollen are also Aa Djupvik’s fondest memory from his coaching career with the Norwegian national team.
“The men’s relay gold in Holmenkollen is the highlight of my coaching career. The biggest disappointment was the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver where we were beat by the Swedes,” Aa Djupvik said.
From NRK.no, April 13, 2011. By Anders Rove Berntsen, translation by Inge Scheve
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.