Moguls coach Kober wins na­tional Dono­hue award

Winnipeg Free Press - - SPORTS - GRE­GORY STRONG

WHEN Cana­dian moguls star Mikael Kings­bury was about to com­pete in the six-man su­per fi­nal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, he turned to long­time coach Rob Kober and told him what he had in mind for his last run.

Kober gave Kings­bury a know­ing nod, con­fi­dent smile and a fist bump. Some­times it’s what a coach doesn’t say that can get an ath­lete ready for peak per­for­mance.

“It’s the best feel­ing when your coach has to­tal trust in you,” Kings­bury said. “I knew he was there for any­thing. He’s a big rea­son (why I won). He was su­per­com­posed, su­per-calm and su­per-con­fi­dent about us do­ing a great thing in Pyeongchang. (He’s) a big part of the medal and I’ll be for­ever grate­ful.”

Af­ter many sea­sons of train­ing, prepa­ra­tion and hard work with Kober by his side, Kings­bury shone on the sport’s big­gest stage. He won Olympic gold for the first time in a dom­i­nant sea­son that saw him win a pair of Crys­tal Globes.

On Fri­day, Kober was named the win­ner of the Jack Dono­hue Coach of the Year award by the Coach­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada.

“There are so many great Cana­dian coaches that de­serve this award, and I feel very hon­oured and very for­tu­nate to be sin­gled out,” Kober said. “Hav­ing my ca­reer rec­og­nized like this means a lot to me.”

The award is named af­ter the late Jack Dono­hue, who led Canada to fourth-place fin­ishes at the 1976 and 1984 Olympics in men’s bas­ket­ball and was in­ducted into the Cana­dian Olympic Hall of Fame and Cana­dian Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame.

Re­cent win­ners in­clude soc­cer’s John Herd­man, soft­ball’s Mark Smith and bas­ket­ball’s Lisa Thomaidis.

Kober served as head coach of Freestyle Canada’s men’s moguls ski team from 2002-18.

“I like to think that I’ve been flex­i­ble over the years and I like to think that I’ve been rea­son­able at adapt­ing my style per the in­di­vid­ual,” Kober said. “I’ve had some suc­cess with a pretty wide range of char­ac­ters and per­son­al­ity types.

“But at a high-per­for­mance level, we just try to break things down and fig­ure out what we need to do to be suc­cess­ful, to get the guys on the podium.”

Know­ing he was a good bet to win en­ter­ing the fi­nal run in Pyeongchang, Kings­bury told Kober that he would down­grade his bot­tom jump by one net ro­ta­tion and go with a cork 720 in­stead of a cork 1080.

Kober had been weigh­ing when to dis­cuss that very sub­ject, but didn’t want to put any doubt in Kings­bury’s mind af­ter a cou­ple of mi­nor mis­takes over the first two runs. He let the ath­lete come to him in that in­stance, and they were both on the same page.

Kings­bury then went out and de­liv­ered as con­fi­dence trumped pres­sure at Phoenix Snow Park.

“He knew what he had to do and it was re­ally clear to him,” Kober said from Pen­tic­ton, B.C. “I felt like it was go­ing to hap­pen. I felt tremen­dously, tremen­dously con­fi­dent for him in that mo­ment. So it wasn’t like I had to fake it or any­thing or put on an act for him.

“I re­ally be­lieved that we were go­ing to win that night.”

Kober has been in­volved in coach­ing for over 25 years. He re­cently be­gan a new role as head coach of the Al­berta moguls team.

“He al­ways gave 100 per cent for me and for my team­mates,” Kings­bury said from Mon­treal. “He was al­ways well pre­pared, al­ways had a mil­lion strate­gies to win or to get to the fi­nals. He’s just a mas­ter. I like to call him the Bill Belichick of ski­ing. He’s amaz­ing.”

Also Fri­day, fig­ure skat­ing coach Manon Per­ron of Boucherville, Que., was named the win­ner of the Ge­off Gowan Award for life­time con­tri­bu­tions to coach­ing de­vel­op­ment.

Abo­rig­i­nal Sport and Well­ness Cen­tre of On­tario teacher Greg Hen­hawk, from Six Na­tions of the Grand River, Ont., was the win­ner of the IG Wealth Man­age­ment na­tional NCCP Coach De­vel­oper Award for in­spir­ing and de­vel­op­ing coaches in the com­mu­nity.

Ten­nis Canada was named the win­ner of the Sheila Robert­son Award, which rec­og­nizes out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to coach ed­u­ca­tion, recog­ni­tion and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment by a na­tional sport or­ga­ni­za­tion or mul­ti­sport ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion. A to­tal of 45 coaches and sports lead­ers were set to be hon­oured Fri­day night at the PetroCanada Sport Lead­er­ship Awards Gala at the Shaw Cen­tre in Ot­tawa.

HO-CFSA-MIKE RIDEWOOD/ THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Mikael Kings­bury (from left), Pierre-Alexan­dre Rousseau and 2018 Dono­hue award-win­ning coach Rob Kober at a 2011 event in Nor­way.

Man­i­toba skip Colin Kurz throws a rock in a game against On­tario on Fri­day.

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