Miro Zayonc Named National Team Head Coach
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - USA Luge Sports Program Director Mark Grimmette announced that Miro Zayonc will take over duties as Head Coach of the National Team, effective immediately.
Zayonc, born in the former Czechoslovakia, competed in luge from the late 1970’s through his retirement from the sport in 1988. He defected in 1981 and won a gold medal at the 1983 World Championships racing for Canada. Although living in the U.S. at the time, Zayonc raced for Canada prior to being cleared by U.S. officials to compete as an American. Eventually he became eligible to compete for the U.S., finishing 11th at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in doubles with teammate Tim Nardiello of Lake Placid, N.Y. During those Olympics, Zayonc earned respect from competitors and the public after he competed with a broken right foot, which was cast into an aerodynamically optimal position for the race.
Zayonc has served as a coach for USA Luge since 1990, spending the majority of that time as the Junior National Team Head Coach, where he accumulated 13 Junior World Championship titles and eight overall Junior World Cup titles. Zayonc, a resident of Lake Placid, also was a part of every Olympic team coaching staff since 1992.
"It was not a hard decision to accept the position because I know our athletes are willing to step up and do whatever it takes to be on the podium," said Zayonc. ""Nothing in my career came easy or without having to overcome big obstacles and I believe in our team’s ability to do the same."
"I am excited to have Miro as our Head Coach because he has both the experience and knowledge to help our athletes reach their goals and achieve success," said Grimmette. "We’ve put together an amazing coaching team for the final push to Sochi."
Zayonc will be joined this season by Grimmette, a two-time Olympic medal winner from Muskegon, Mich., who will serve as an assistant coach in addition to his Sports Director duties. . Former Soviet Union coach Klim Gatker of Lake Placid, N.Y. and 1992 luge Olympian Bill Tavares will also serve as assistant coaches.
USA Luge CEO Ron Rossi added, "When Mark was first hired into the dual role of Sports Program Director and Head Coach after the 2010 Olympics, it was always with this day in mind. Mark was happy to relinquish the Head Coach duties to someone with an even higher level of knowledge and experience to help move our athletes to the next level of performance. We are excited for the potential of our new coaching lineup."
The role of Junior National Team Head Coach will be filled shortly.