Posted by Editor on 11/2/03
Innes to New Zealand
Track coach Kurt Innes has become the second Canadian coach in the last week to formally announce that he has taken a position with the New Zealand cycling federation (eefective November 1, although he will not leave for New Zealand for a few weeks yet). Shortly after our story yesterday that national coach Jacques Landry will take the position of Assistant Director of National Programs in New Zealand, we received confirmation from Innes that he also is going to New Zealand, to become the National Track Coach. Kurt Innes has been the coach at the National Training Centre in Calgary, as well as acting as team manager for numerous Canadian track projects around the world. We had the opportunity to speak with Kurt from his home in Calgary today.
CC - How did this offer come about?
KI - It goes back to the Sydney Olympics in 2000. I had a couple of offers then, which I declined. I decided after that, that I would be more open to other opportunities. I have been good friends and worked with Warren (Lister, former Executive Director of Saskatchewan Cycling, and now ED of the New Zealand cycling association), so I had discussions with him after he took the job (in New Zealand). The position was formally advertised, and there were many applicants from all over the world, with an interview process.
CC - Jacques told us that his position is basically a new one, how about yours?
KI - It is a little different with Track, that has been more organized, but for the past few years they (New Zealand) have worked with a couple of part timers. This will solidify it into one all-encompassing position.
CC - Was the increased funding a primary attraction?
KI - The program funding is definitely attractive, it is a considerably larger budget (Kurt could not say how much larger, but repeated that it was "considerably" more). But, it is 100% professional development that led to me taking the position. At this point in my career, this is what I need. They are at a different level (to Canada) in their track program. Cycling is one of their top-3 ranked sports, behind rugby and swimming, and their goal is very clear: Olympic medals. Pro sports like hockey are not stealing the attention, and it is in the culture - they know a lot about track cycling down there. I've been coaching 11 years, and for me, this was the next logical step - to get into a head coach position and have a chance to make the decisions and call the shots. Here (Canada) there are good things in motion, but to do this (New Zealand) will make me a world class coach.
CC - You are the second of Canada's "next generation" of coaches to leave. How much of this is because of the CCA (Canadian Cycling Association) and funding?
KI - I don't want to pin it on the CCA. For the amount of money we get from the federal government, everyone is doing the best they can. But in Canada we are simply not a priority sport. There are always people blaming the CCA and personalities get involved, but it isn't just that.
CC - How will the facilities and athlete situation differ from Canada?
KI - They are instituting a National Training Centre, which is where I'll be based. Right now there is a 250m outdorr track, and they are working on an indoor track. New Zealand has a well established Team Pursuit program, that is ranked as high as top- in the world, their Madison program and Pursuit are all strong. The Sprint program is a little lagging, which is exciting to me, and is an area where I can make a difference because of my background there. Also, they're not relying on just one or two athletes, they have a lot of depth. To start with, the goal will be to qualify as many athletes as possible for the Olympics (through the World Cups and World Championships). They are hiring experts who are 100% focussed on the task at hand, for me that is the track.
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