Gerard Colin: "I want to win. Just once!"
At the FIS Summer Grand Prix in Einsiedeln, Gerard Colin, the new head coach of the French team, spoke with us about problems with young athletes in France and his big dream.
When Slovene Matjaz Zupan ended his job as head coach in France after last season, the door was open for French Gerard Colin. Long-time ski jumping fans have known his name for a while, the French is definitely not a new face in the ski jumping scene.
La Bresse born Colin made his debut in the newly introduced ski jumping World Cup at the opening event of the 4-Hills-Tournament 1979/80 in Oberstdorf. During his career he was in the Top 15 various times, his best result was a fourth place in Baerum, Norway on March 11th 1983. "I've never made it to the podium, but for a French, my results are absolutely acceptable", says Colin and is directly addressing the problems of ski jumping in France when it comes to young athletes.
"At age 13 they lose interest“
"We have a lot of very young athletes. But unfortunately then at age 13 or 14 they don't want to train anymore." Colin can't tell what's the reason for this. "There's incentive, the young jumpers are good, but I don't know how to keep their motivation high for a longer period of time", Colin adds.
The three athletes in his A-team fortunately don't have motivational problems. Youngster Ronan Lamy Chappuis is the French hope for the future and the new head coach sees big potential in him: "Ronan is very motivated! He is young and can achieve a lot, my hopes rest on him." But he also emphasizes that there's no hierarchy in his small team. "Everyone is important! We only have three athletes, only two are in Einsiedeln, because Nicolas Mayer is not here. Vincent Descombes Sevoie is the backbone of the team. He is 30 years old and has a lot of experience, but I don't know for how long he wants to continue his career."
Gerard Colin ended his career in 1988 at age 29. Back then he started working as an assistant coach in France, also together with Austrian Alois Lipburger, who died in a tragic car accident in 2001, and discovered his passion for coaching. In the 2011/12 season he started working with the French B-Team and it is impossible to imagine French ski jumping without him. Colin loves his job, although a lot has changed since his career end in 1988.
"Back then everything was more relaxed"
"Right now I prefer being a coach. I like to teach the guys and I'm also too old to jump myself", the 56-year-old said smiling. Colin harshly criticizes the involvement of the media in French ski jumping and states that he would want to old days back. "Back then everything was a lot more relaxed. It's difficult to hold a straight course nowadays when somebody is always interfering. People are talking too much about everything, no matter if they know something about it or not."
But still Colin thinks that ski jumping in France has a lot of potential for the future. In the past the western Europeans often closely missed top results. Vincent Descombes Sevoie was French Champion various times, but didn't achieve a podium result in the World Cup so far.
"We are working hard, but to be on the podium you need a perfect jump", explains the 30-year-old. "Our team has the potential, but besides a perfect take-off you also need perfect conditions to be successful." According to Descombes Sevoie the lack of young atheltes is also a reason that the team doesn't achieve top results. "There's not a lot of pressure within our team because there are not a lot of young athletes."
Being coached by Gerard Colin is nothing new for the French athletes. "We have already been working with Gerard for two years", says Descombes Sevoie. "Currently we are modifying our technique, that we trained with Matjaz in the past." His teammate Ronan Lamy Chappuis doesn't see much of a change either. "The mentality of the team is not that different now because we are working with Gerard for a while and know him well", told the 20-year-old talent. But there is something that makes him happy: "The French team now finally has a French coach! The communication is a lot better than it was in English and we can discuss mistakes more precisely. This will help us a lot in the upcoming season!"
The first goal is the qualification
A lot shall now change for this season, even if Colin doesn't know why it wasn't working that well in the past. "We are training hard! Of course we are facing some financial problems, like most of the associations, but we are jumping all year. On snow, on plastic, we are training hard and the guys are good", Colin tells and warns of high expectations. "We move forward step by step in order to lay a good foundation." The first goal will be the qualification, then the first competition round. "Every result within the Top 20 is fantastic! We have to build it up slowly."
But the new coach has one big dream that he would love to see coming true already this season: "I want to win! Just once!" he says. "This is the dream of every coach and I'll stick to that. We can do it!" Together with his new assistant coach, Austrian Robert Treitinger, Gerard Colin has the chance to lead the French ski jumping team to a successful next seaon. With a clear goal in sight, lots of experience and some humor he can become the successful coach that France has been waiting for.
At today's Grand Prix in Einsiedeln the French could not reach their goal of achieving mid-level results, the places 26 (Vincent Descombes Sevoie) and 33 (Ronan Lamy Chappuis) were not enough to qualify for the final. But they will have to chance to improve this already on Friday in their home competition in Courchevel.