The U.S. Biathlon Association (USBA) has hired Jean Paquet as its Head Coach for Development. Formerly a national team coach for Biathlon Canada, Paquet will be responsible for both USBA’s “D” and “X” teams as well as for coordinating regional development programs across the U.S.
“We’re very, very excited,” USBA CEO Max Cobb told FasterSkier. “We had five really qualified candidates. We’ve been impressed with all the progress that the Canadian men’s team has made recently. [Paquet] has been directly working with the men’s national team and of course in the last few years coaching JP Le Guellec. We had great interviews with him and felt like he would be a great fit with the rest of the staff, which is a really important part of creating seamless transitions between developing athletes and the national team.”
Paquet was a regional coach in Quebec as well as serving as a coach for the Canadian team on World Cup tours, and was also the personal coach for Jean Philippe Le Guellec, the Quebec native who set a best mark for a Canadian man when he placed sixth at the 2010 Olympics, then went one better with fith place in Sochi.
But in part due to cuts from Own The Podium after Le Guellec’s retirement, Paquet was pushed out of Biathlon Canada.
“The new job is exactly what I was looking for, and coaching talented development athletes,” Paquet wrote in an e-mail to FasterSkier. “And Lake Placid is a training center I have always liked to go to for training. It is gonna be a transition for me, but I know most of the coaches and people involved in US biathlon, so it should be a fun challenge.”
Paquet represented Canada at World Championships spanning more than 15 years, and also competed in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France.
Cobb said that Paquet’s experience both on the development side in Quebec and with Canada’s top-level biathletes was a big selling point, and that USBA will hope to profit from some extra knowledge of the Canadian system.
“We’re really excited to have someone who has good North American background but at the same time comes with some different experiences,” he said. “Having [someone who] worked with Biathlon Canada and grew up through that system, we feel like it’s a great opportunity for us to benefit from all the things which are done so well up in Canada, and incorporate some of those into our own development programs.”
Chris Lindsay, the High Performance Director for Biathlon Canada, told FasterSkier that his organization was happy to see Paquet with a good-fitting job, even if it wasn’t in his home country.
“We’re of course at the same time saddened that we did not have a position for him, but Jean is an excellent friend of our program, and a member of the biathlon family,” he said. “We’re extremely happy that he will be able to continue his work in the sport and be able to work on the next generation of athletes.”
Paquet’s hiring is part of a development push by USBA, which has focused most of its budget on World Cup athletes in the past few years. But now, they are devoting considerable resources to the development pipeline to try to pad their roster and develop young athletes to rely on in the years to come.
“We’ve been talking and planning for over a year now to do more for athlete development,” Cobb said. “This is not the first step, but it’s the biggest step I would say, besides getting our plan together. It’s nice to see that finally moving forward. We know how much it’s needed, and we’re very very optimistic about the positive effect that this will have.”
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.