Vladimir Lebedev named head coach of U.S. aerials team
There’s been a change within U.S. Ski and Snowboard as Vladimir Lebedev has been announced as the new head coach of the aerials team. Lebedev takes over for Parkite Emily Cook, who served in an interim role since May when former head coach Todd Ossian left the team.
“We are excited to announce Vladimir as our head aerials coach for the U.S. Ski Team,” said Jeremy Forster, director of freestyle for U.S. Ski and Snowboard, in a press release. “Vlad is widely respected within the aerials community and brings a history of coaching success with him to this team. His passion for the sport and clear vision sets a high standard for his athletes. I look forward to working with him in his new position.”
Lebedev has experience at the highest of levels within the sport, both as an athlete and a coach. He said in an interview that without being the level of athlete he was, he wouldn’t be the coach he is or have the opportunity that’s in front of him.
“I think it definitely helps me as a coach to gain the respect of the athletes because they know I’ve been there before,” Lebedev said. “When a coach has the experience of being an athlete before, he knows what they’re thinking and so when I speak, they listen to me and understand.”
As a coach, Lebedev’s background is extensive.
Most recently, he served as a World Cup coach with the U.S. moguls team, drastically improving the execution of the squad through his background, knowledge and expertise for aerial movements.
Prior to that, Lebedev was a World Cup coach for multiple athletes from 2014-17, leading his athletes to a combined 12 medals, four of which were gold, at the Junior World Championships. His background in coaching includes his athlete Ilya Burov receive the bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.
Lebedev also served time as the Russian development coach before leaving after the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
“I was an athlete for 26 years and then coached the Russian team for nine years, so I have the background so now it lines up with what I want the team to accomplish,” Lebedev said. “There is a lot of stuff I want to change and a lot of stuff I can make better, but I want to make the team No. 1.”
Lebedev is eager for the upcoming Olympics next year, but before he and the athletes can start looking ahead, Lebedev is stressing and trying to implement a new team culture.
“My No. 1 job is to change the culture here. Instead of it being a single athlete sport, we need to come together as a team and focus on the team because that’s what will make us stronger in the end,” Lebedev said. “All the athletes on the team are different, so it’s up to me and my staff to help find and create individual goals for each of them. But they must also stay within our overall concept because they have to help each other to become better.”
It is his belief that the U.S. could be more cohesive if the head coach, the other coaches and the athletes all understand what the main objective is. Where the U.S. might have struggled in the past was the team aspect of the sport, he said, so he’s trying to bring that element as the team pushes toward the 2020 Winter Olympics in Tokyo.
“Coaching like this is definitely not like a regular job, it never stops for me and the other coaches,” Lebedev said. “Every day we are trying to find ways to get better, and we can’t stop or slow down because we already have catching up to do. It’s my job to make sure everyone knows what they must do for themselves and the team and that’s why it never stops.”
The transition to head coach has been smooth for Lebedev. So far the athlete response has been positive, according to Lebedev. He understands that, although his relationship with the athletes is different now that he’s the head coach, he was able to build relationships with them beforehand that are going to be beneficial later on.
“They already know me so they already trust me, which is a big thing for the athletes,” Lebedev said. “They’ve all said congratulations, so it’s good knowing they support me and what I want to accomplish for them and the team.”
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