Aleksander Wierietielny And Justyna Kowalczyk Step Down As Team Poland Coaches

…It was an exciting experiment…

…Aleksander Wierietielny had a long and illustrious career capped with his best known pupil, Justyna Kowalczyk, winning two Olympic golds, three FIS Cross-Country World Cups and incredible four Tour de Ski victories in a row.

Wierietielny and Maniek, the First Dog of XCsking, always there on the tracks

The Soviet Union-born coach wanted to retire after the 2018 Olympics but none else than Ms. Kowalczyk had convinced him to stay for a few years to work on the project both fascinating and incredible: select a group of 16-17 year old Polish girls – and turn them into world-class skiers. It would be wrong to add the standard “money no object” but it was a very well funded project, money of course coming courtesy to Kowalchyk’s fame.

Poland is not Norway or Russia – the cross country skiing is not exactly a part of a school curriculum and a national lore. Yet two coaches – for Justyna was now both an active athlete and a coach – thought it is doable.

Justyna training on Dachstein last October
Team Poland training on Dachstein

And it worked – and worked fairly fast. The female Polish relay squad would most likely have taken the gold medal at the World Juniors this year if not for a fatal wrong turn at the last leg. Relay debacle aside, a 19 year old Izabela Marcisz took three medals in Oberwiesenthal and is widely seen as one of the future leaders of the sport.

with Izabela Marcisz , one of the stars of the recent Junior World Championships in Oberwiesenthal

Martin Bajcicak, 43, from Slovakia was selected to continue what Wierietielny/ Kowalczyk started two years ago.

We had a quick chat with Justyna Kowalczyk today when the news broke:

– This was a Wierietielny’s idea but I know Martin well too, so I called to him and asked whether he is interested. Then we talked,me discussed things – a lot.

– Alexander and me, we are not quiting altogether, we both will continue as consultants.

– In all camps in Zakopane Wierietielny who lives there will be with the team.

– I also will be very close.. In the summer it will be one week per month with a team, during winter even more time, potentially.

In Olos last November

– Need time for my family, for me and Kacper.

– Did I think about continuing racing in the winter? Still dont know. What I’m waiting for now is a better time for a wedding😇😇

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