USA Nordic is pleased to announce that Blake Hughes has been hired to fulfill the Women’s National Team Director position. Hughes has worked his way through the coaching pipeline over the last ten years, leading him to this role.
USA Nordic executive director Bill Demong feels this new role suits Hughes well, “Blake brings great leadership ability and vision to the table. He also has experience coaching athletes at every level, so he understands what it takes along each step of the development process.”
Hughes found his passion for ski jumping at a young age, “When I was six years old I took my first jump on Park City’s 20 meter, I was hooked immediately.” He went on to compete in two Junior World Championships and had 29 Continental Cup starts before retiring from ski jumping in 2009, at the age of 22. He started coaching just 3 months after his retirement, balancing coaching duties with his education at the University of Utah. During this time, Hughes worked mainly with younger athletes, including two current national team athletes Jared Shumate and Stephen Schumann.
After graduating from the University of Utah, Hughes coached for USA Ski Jumping as a FIS Cup coach while also continuing his coaching duties at the club in Park City. He continued to balance duties with USA Nordic and the Park City Club until last year when he joined USA Nordic full time as the Junior National Team Head Coach.
Hughes praises fellow coaches Clint Jones, Alan Alborn, and Bine Norcic for helping him develop as a coach over the last 10 years, “I think this speaks volumes about USA Nordic and the pipeline that has developed for coaches and the ability to challenge and push coaches and be able to promote within the organization.”
When asked about his goals, Hughes mentions words such as structure, atmosphere, and pipeline. He aims to develop and foster a strong efficient pipeline from the club level all the way to the World Cup. “I am really excited to take this position and lead this team to the next level,” says Hughes.
Hughes’s mix of experience with younger athletes as well as elite older athletes gives him the ideal skillset to take on these goals. In his words, “I feel that this is inherently what I have been trained and groomed to be in the last few years of my involvement with the team and higher-level ski jumping.”