Bayer joins sports club Nordic staff

Former Olympian 'excited' to head team

— Martin Bayer has been hired to replace longtime coach Chris Gilbertson as the head of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's ability-level programs for Nordic combined and ski jumping.

The 33-year-old Bayer spent the past five years coaching for the Central Division in Coleraine, Minn. Before that, he worked in Ishpeming, Mich., and was a member of the Slovakian national team until 1997.

"I was looking for the opportunity to come to a larger program," Bayer said. "Steamboat is a great place with a strong program."

Bayer said he first expressed an interest in coming to Steamboat two years ago, but at that time there were no spots open on the Nordic staff. When this position opened, he got the opportunity and is planning on making the most of it.

"I was so excited when I drove over the pass and saw Steamboat," Bayer said. "This is a beautiful valley, and I'm looking forward to getting to know it in the summer. Before this, I have only been here in the winter."

Bayer, who coached athletes from 14 different clubs in Coleraine, thinks that Steamboat will be a great place to coach. For the first time in his career, he will deal with athletes who all live in the same area and go to the same schools.

He is looking forward to teaching Steamboat's young skiers the skills they need to be successful in the Rocky Mountain Division and advance to the national team level, if that is what they want.

"It's going to take a little while to get to know the athletes and for the athletes to get to know me," Bayer said. "But I've been in these sports my entire life, and I feel like I can help these skiers succeed."

Bayer said he grew up skiing in a club similar to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in Slovakia. His parents were both members of the Czechoslovakian national teams. His father was a Nordic combined skier and his mother was a cross-country skier. The country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, and Martin skied for Slovakia.

However, he said that when the two countries split, funding became scarce. He was named to Slovakia's Olympic teams in 1992 and 1994, but decided to retire after the 1997 season.

Gilbertson took a position with the U.S. Nordic combined team this spring. Gilbertson was a popular coach who helped several Steamboat skiers reach the U.S. team in recent years.

Bayer started June 1. He said he still is getting to know the athletes on the Steamboat team. However, he expects programming to pick up when school gets out this week and hopes to help the club's tradition of producing top Nordic skiers continue into the future.

--To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209

or e-mail

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