After years of traveling around the world and coaching at the highest levels of skiing, Rob Kober is back home.
Kober recently took over the position of head coach at the Apex Freestyle Club, putting him in charge of the program his children enjoyed when they were younger.
“I moved with my family in 1999 and we’ve been here ever since. We relocated the B.C. team that year from Whistler because for training you just can’t beat Apex,” said Kober. “It’s the club that my kids grew up skiing with, and I’ve tried to be involved over the years, but obviously I spent most of my winters on the road.”
As the new coach, Kober carries an extensive resume that includes 16 years of coaching multiple Canadian Olympic teams starting in Nagano at the 1998 Olympics, coaching the B.C. Freestyle Team, and coaching the Chinese Olympic Freestyle Team.
Since returning to Penticton, he spent the last nine months resting and recovering, and spending time with his family in the community that he loves. While he was considering offers to continue coaching elsewhere, the Apex Freestyle Club offered him the position, and as the season gets underway it’s one he’s already busy with.
“Back at the club level, there’s all these different layers, and parents and answering questions about programs and everything which has been really nice and really exciting like I did earlier in my career,” said Kober. “I think no matter what level you’re skiing at, the fun is crucial. Whether they’re 10 years old or 26 years old and going for their Olympic medal, it’s still fun.”
The club has been built up by previous coaches and work from the local skiing community, something that Kober pointed out, directly bringing up Kenni Kuroda who spent years coaching the team and whose late son Brayden was a star member certain to make an international mark, and the volunteers that have shaped the club.
“It’s been something on my mind for a number of years, maybe as long as 10 years ago, that this would be a nice way to maybe start to wind down my coaching career,” said Kober. “There’s a great tradition of skiing here, and many kids that have moved on to the national team, including my son Jordan, and there’s so many great volunteers like Brian Spence and Evan Phillips. These guys are working as hard or harder than me to make things happen, and being a part of that really appeals to me.”
On top of serving as a coach for the Apex club, Kober is also helping with the mountain’s preparations for the Apex Classic, which is a FIS — the international governing body of skiing — moguls competition. In addition to some of the club’s top members, international competitors and athletes from other Canadian clubs will be making their way out to the slopes for the Dec. 15 to 18.
“We have a couple of Japanese teams arriving in a couple of days, and of course, a lot of closer-to-home Canadian club teams and provincial teams, and part of my job is to be the liaison between all the teams training here and the mountain,” said Kober. “We’re also expecting a couple of Irish kids and some from Australia too.”
The total number of athletes is capped at 80, which does limit how many locals can participate. It was something instituted back when Kober was head of Team Canada, with the original intention of making it more of a skiing combine and evaluation event. Since then, though, it has slipped away from the original vision. He said that he would like to see it opened up to more athletes.
Even with the limited size of the field, it’s still a chance for the club to get some experience competing against other top-level Canadians and international athletes.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to see how they stack up going into the rest of the year,” said Kober.
The classic starts off with unofficial training on Thursday, Dec. 15, with official training on Dec. 16, and two days of competition on Dec. 17 and 18.
According to the preliminary schedule on the FIS website, the women’s qualifiers start at 8:55 a.m. on Dec. 17 and 18, the men’s at 11:30 a.m. and then the combined finals on each day starting at 2 p.m., although that schedule may change ahead of the competition’s start.
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