This week, JF Cusson was named the new technical coach of Canada's National Slopestyle Ski Team. Cusson, a pioneer in the freeskiing world, has a decorated competition history -- he was a member the Canadian National Mogul Team and he went on to earn a gold medal at the inaugural Winter X Games Big Air in 1999. Now 34, the Montreal native and golf pro will be taking on his first major ski coaching job.
"I was already a judge for the Dew Tour and the X Games, but I figured with my experience and knowledge, I'd more useful being a coach than a judge," Cusson told ESPN. "Plus, I like teaching. My parents were both teachers, so I guess it's in my blood."
In August, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association named the athletes for the newly-formed national slopestyle team and appointed Toben Southerland as head coach. "JF Cusson has been hired as the technical coach, so he'll be doing the actual coaching on the ground," said Kelley Korbin, media relations manager for the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. "He and Toben will work as a team."
Cusson has coached golf for the last five years and he used to coach at summer ski camps at Whistler. Korbin says he brings that experience -- and more -- to the position. "Cusson has a lot of respect -- being that this is a new sport to the Olympics and the whole FIS structure, a lot of the athletes are curious as to what direction the sport is going," said Korbin. "It adds a lot of credibility to have a guy of the caliber of JF with this program."
Cusson starts working with the team immediately, and he says he thinks the team will do well at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. "We have good depth in our team," Cusson said. "If we can be lucky with injuries, I think we will have a good chance in 2014."
The Canadian slopestyle athletes recently completed a trampoline training camp and, along with the Canadian halfpipe team, they'll be heading to an on-snow camp in New Zealand in early October.