Squires, Team Russia Know-How

Well, it isn’t really. Coaches who maintain their form were training alongside active athletes for yonks.

A squire – or ” coach who trains along” – fulfills many roles including conducting training sessions  , leading by example ( how about 5 hour mountain trekking or equally long biking? ) and to some, namely team leaders, being quasi-personal coach.

It could be argued that recent successes of both Team Slovenia and Team GB are linked to that active coaching system.

But it’s the Russians who polished the system and in some ways took a step further in the last couple of years. Here’s how it works:

…it’s all started with Markus Cramer arrival to Team Russia. First order of things was to get him an interpreter. By lucky strike, Egor Sorin who just finished his career as skier at Team Russia spoke more than adequate English. Elena Vyalbe who is both team manager and head of national ski federation approved..
..naturally, nobody expected Sorin to be just an interpreter – that was a form apprenticeship under one of the world’s best coaches….
..it very soon became clear that Sorin is neither willing nor able to sit still and it all became “lead by example” whereas the Russian assistant coach conveyed Cramer’s instructions quite literally – by showing what needs to be done….
…Sorin’s competence – and zeal – was soon rewarded: last year then-33 year old Sorin got his own group of skiers and became one the youngest national team coaches in the world ( Vyalbe deliberately does not distinguish between four training groups she’s got in Team Russia, they all are considered equal in status)
“assistant coach who shows by example” a.k.a. squire experiment was declared a success. A just-retired Team Russia skier Sergey Turyshev replacedEgor Sorin and works alongside Cramer as of last season.
“job description” remained largely unchanged. It’s an intricate combo of coach assistant who is also an authoritative ex-team member and who for all intents and purposes keeps on training himself…A lot!
…naturally, special attention is bestowed upon leaders. Turyshev, who is a close personal friend, is often seen on the tracks alongside Sergey Ustiugov, pacemaking and ensuring the leader of the Russians is staying in dedicated heart rate zone.
“Squire Experiment” was expanded to the rival Boro Group, the one under Yuri Borodavko, where Bolshunov and Nepryaeva train. Here’s Artyom Zhmurko, another fresh retiree world-class athlete and now full-time squire ( blue shirt) leading his skiers out on the training session.
Here’s the functions are somewhat different: Alex prefers to do distance training alone ( and, frankly, there’s is nobody in the world right now who could keep his training pace – it needs to be seen to be believed!) but Zhmurko works a lot with him during PT, for instance

Not every team can afford to have dedicated squire or two – that’s clear. But having one definitely helps to both atmosphere in the team – and results

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