Paolo Bernardi quit three months before he would become the first U.S. Olympic women’s ski jumping team coach.
The Italian Bernardi, 41, had coached the U.S. team since 2011, the same year women’s ski jumping was officially added to the Olympics after a long fight to join men at the Winter Games.
A message was posted to Bernardi’s Facebook account last week, then deleted.
“I resign for personal reasons and it was a hard decision….I keep loving and following this sport and I hope to find another team soon that can give me the motivation to start again,” was posted, according to the International Ski Federation website.
Bernardi, whose family lives in Italy, “was forced to re-evaluate his situation” after he requested an international-based assistant and was not granted one, according to USA Today, which also cited “demanding travel” and “an all-consuming job.”
“It was the best decision for myself and for my team because our roads were not going the same direction anymore,” Bernardi told the newspaper. “After 2 ½ years eventually we are not on the same page anymore, and so I had to quit.”
He went through a tough season with the death of his mother in February.
“I did too much,” Bernardi told the newspaper. “When you drive one car at the highest speed possible for 2 ½ years, sooner or later you’re going to hit the wall and I’m really afraid I’m going to hit the wall. Before it’s too late I want to take a break and slow down.”
Bernardi helped guide the team’s star, Sarah Hendrickson, 19, to the 2011-12 World Cup season title and the 2013 World Championship.
Hendrickson tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in her right knee in an Aug. 21 crash but was walking normally two months later. She’s hoping to be ready to compete in Sochi on Feb. 11.
“She was looking forward to starting again with me,” Bernardi told USA Today. “We’ll see, I’m always available for her if I don’t find another job.
“She’s the kind of athlete who knows exactly what she has to do. When she gets back in January she’s going to be like before. I don’t see any problem.”
The ski jumping World Cup begins in Lillehammer, Norway, on Dec. 7.
Bernardi was known for wearing his emotions on his jacket sleeve.
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