From training course preparation to footage analysis, Alpine coach Mario Rafetzeder is dedicated to the development of young talent.
How and why did you get into coaching?
“First, I wanted to be a professional racer and started my career in one of the best racing schools in Austria. After some years as racer, I decided to continue as a coach and promote ski talents. I really enjoy accompanying the development of young talent and seeing their progress after the training units. It makes me proud to be involved in the development and to see when the first successes are achieved.”
What are your main responsibilities as a coach?
“My main responsibility is arranging the whole season by setting up the programme, organisation of equipment, accommodation, slopes, etc. As soon as those items are clear, the training on snow starts. It means I set the training course in the morning and the athletes are doing their runs then, which are recorded and analysed by me”.
How important is the mental/psychological side of coaching in a modern athlete’s development?
“For sure, this is a very important item. If the athlete is mentally/psychologically not strong enough, they are never able to show the good results of the training at any races.”
How is the new generation of athletes’ expectations of coaching different from what was expected 10 years ago?
“I think the expectations have not changed a lot. Athletes still want to get the best coaching, slopes and equipment they could get and a coach should always try to be open for all opinions.”
Is analysing competition/training footage useful for athlete improvement and development? If so, has tech like mobile phones and drones made this easier?
“The competition/training footage is one of the most important tools for us coaches. Without that, I would not be able to show my athletes their strengths and weaknesses. The development of technology like cameras helps us work in a lot more detail.”
What was the biggest challenge coaching athletes during the most restricted moments last year? How did you manage to maintain a coaching approach with athletes during lockdown?
“Last year was really a challenging year for everybody. We had to be more flexible than ever, but we also were very lucky as we are based in a region (Schladming, Reiteralm) which never stopped to offer all ski professionals an area for our training. Also, the organisers of races (FIS races, EC and WC races) always gave their best to offer a nearly “normal” season under the pressure of many safety rules.”