Olympian joins aerials coaching staff
July 15, 2016
Emily Cook retired from the U.S. Aerials Team after the 2013-14 season, but she was never far from her former teammates.
After ending a career that included appearances in three Olympic Games, Cook was around the team last year, helping coach the athletes during the World Cup competition at Deer Valley.
Recently, though, Cook's coaching position became official — she's now the U.S. Aerials C Team coach. Cook said she's excited to help coach some of the team's newest athletes.
"I'll be spending a lot of my time with some of the younger athletes and some of the newer athletes to the team," she said. "We have a great C Team — young, super talented, incredibly hard-working."
Though she's officially a C Team coach, she said she'll still be available to help all the team's members. The aerials A Team members are athletes who consistently compete on the World Cup tour and at other top events. The B Team athletes occasionally jump in World Cups, but primarily compete in North American Cup competitions. Cook's C Team athletes are developmental athletes who will compete in several domestic and North American events over the winter season.
"It was so much fun to be on the hill for Deer Valley last year, so I'm really looking forward to being there for all the athletes, not just the C Team athletes," she said. "We're going to start Olympic qualifying this year, so it's a big year and a half coming up. I'm super excited to be a part of it."
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As she works with some of the team's younger athletes, who have their sights set on the 2022 Olympics and beyond, Cook said she enjoys using her experiences as motivation.
"It's kind of fun, especially with some of the younger athletes who haven't heard my story," she said. "They had an awesome day of jumping the other day and I took a bunch of the girls out to breakfast after doing some awesome new tricks and they were asking some questions. I told them the story of 2002 and how, when qualifying for the Games, I broke my feet. Three years later, coming back and getting to participate in Torino in those  Games, it was really cool."
Cook said her message of perseverance resonated with many of the young jumpers.
"It hadn't really occurred to me that that kind of stuff was going to be impactful, but I think it's very beneficial for them to hear from someone who's been through it so recently and knows that there are going to be challenges," she said. "There's absolutely no athlete out there who hasn't gone through injuries, plateaus, frustration — all of the things that come with being an athlete. For me to be one more reminder of that process is great."
Though Cook has only been officially coaching for about two weeks now, she said she's learning quickly, thanks to the A Team's coaches.
"I have the best to learn from," she said. "Todd Ossian and Matt Saunders are two of the best coaches in the world. I'm very thankful to have them to work with. They were both my coaches and it's cool to work with them in a different capacity."
As the 2018 Olympics approach, Cook said she's focused on helping as many athletes have an Olympic experience as possible.
"Going to an Olympic Games is incredibly special and there are only two athletes who are currently on the team who have had that opportunity — Mac [Bohonnon] and Ashley [Caldwell]," she said. "When this opportunity became available, I knew that my team needed a coach who understood the process and someone who understands the feeling of walking into the Opening Ceremonies. I want that feeling for all of my athletes."
The 2014 Olympic aerials team consisted of only Bohonnon, Caldwell and Cook. Cook said the U.S. squad is on track to send more than three athletes to the 2018 Games.
"I definitely am sure we're going to have a bigger, stronger team going to the Games next year," she said. "These athletes are so talented. Any number of athletes can land on the podium in the next two years. It's going to be a hard team to qualify for, but that's the fun of it, right? That's why we love the Olympics. I feel very confident our athletes are going to work incredibly hard to get there."