Winter Park’s Chris Seemann named U.S. Freestyle Coach of the Year
April 5, 2009
The hardest moment in any sport is coming back after a major injury.
First, the body heals. And then the mind must heal.
It’s a fragile time for an athlete ” a time when the right coach can be the difference between quitting or conquering the fear.
Freestyle skier Michelle Roark had just survived a bad crash during a competition in Deer Valley. She was doing a back flip and landed on her head, she said. “It was hard to overcome.”
She turned to her coach, Chris Seemann, for help getting back on skis and back in the air.
“I really couldn’t have done it without him,” she said. “He took time off work and built a really nice jump for me. And he stood at the side and gave me the confidence. He had me do a couple back flips off it, then he started pointing out little things I could do, so hopefully (a fall) would never happen again.”
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When she needed someone to talk to after the crash, she said, she stopped by the Viking Lodge, where Seemann was talking to guests.
“It was packed ” Spring Break,” Roark said. “People were everywhere. It was crazy. His kids were there.”
Seemann saw Roark walk through the door and he walked away from all the chaos and said, “Let’s talk.
“He thought it was way more important to talk to me for 20 or 30 minutes than anything else that was going on.
“I’ll never forget that.”
That undivided attention is what makes Chris Seemann such an effective coach, Roark said. And part of why she nominated him for the 2009 Freestyle Coach of the Year Award.
Seemann was awarded the honor at the 2009 US Freestyle National Championships held in Squaw Valley, Calif., last month.
“This is an honor,” Seemann said. “It’s cool to be recognized.”
Seemann was chosen by a panel of his peers ” freestyle coaches from across the United States.
Seemann moved to Winter Park from Minnesota in the ’80s and has lived, skied, competed and coached here since.
Seemann was an aerialist on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team from 1985 to 1988 and was the 1988 U.S. National Aerial Champion.
Seemann has been coaching Freestyle aerials, mogul jumps and trampoline since 1986. For the past five years, he has been the Mogul Jump coach for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, as well as the Technical Adviser for U.S. Freestyle Skiing since 2003.
He is also the Aerial and Mogul Jump coach for the Winter Park Freestyle Team.
Roark has been skiing with Seemann since 1990.
“He got me started,” she said. “My background is in figure skating and I’ve had many, many coaches. He really is the best, hands down. He’ll do anything to help out an athlete.”
At the same championships in Squaw Valley where Seemann was honored as Coach of the Year, Roark won the U.S. moguls title.
Next year, Seemann will take his team to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver where, Seemann said, “hopefully we will bring back some hardware.”