(Getty: Jorgensen from the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials)
USA Canoe/Kayak announces Stein Jorgensen as the 2012 U.S. Olympic Sprint Team, pending final approval by U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun. The two-time U.S. Olympic kayaker will coach at his first Olympic Games in London. He coached the U.S. National Team during the 2008 and 2010 seasons and has served as 2012 Olympic nominee Carrie Johnson’s personal coach on and off since 2007. In London, he will oversee sprint kayakers Johnson and Tim Hornsby.
Oklahoma City High Performance Director Shaun Caven joins the Olympic staff as Sprint Team Manager/Coach. Shaun Caven has served in many roles for USA Canoe/Kayak including Team Leader at the 2011 Pan American Games as well as U.S. National Team Coach since 2010.
Rafal Smolen and Silvan Poberaj will coach the five 2012 U.S. Olympic Slalom athletes with William Irving serving as Slalom Team Leader.
Despite his Norwegian name, Jorgensen was born in Los Angeles and raised in San Diego. He didn’t begin paddling flatwater sprint until his late 20s. He was working as an engineer and paddling outrigger canoes when he met U.S. Olympic kayakers Norm Bellingham and Greg Barton at an event in Hawaii, just after the two had won the gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games.
Jorgensen decided that could make the Olympics if he put his mind to and seven years later, he won the World Championships in 200m Kayak Doubles in 1995. He raced 500m Kayak Doubles at the 1996 Games and 500m Kayak Singles and 1,000m Kayak Fours at the 2000 Games. His highest finish was sixth in the K-4.
When he’s not coaching Carrie Johnson, Jorgensen currently works full-time as a firefighter with the Chula Vista Fire Department. He met a teenage Johnson when she began paddling as part of the San Diego Junior Lifeguard program. He has known Hornsby since 2004 and coached him extensively in 2008, when Hornsby was attempting to qualify for the Olympics in K-2 and K-4.
Carrie Johnson, Women’s Kayak: “I have worked with Stein since 2005. In the quad leading to Beijing , he came out to paddle with me and provide additional technical assistance and during this past quad, has stepped up to provide a coaching position in Chula Vista. He has volunteered a large amount of his time to train with and coach me and the other athletes training in Chula Vista because he truly loves the sport and sincerely wants to see us succeed. I look forward to having his support in London.”
Tim Hornsby, Men’s Kayak: “I have known Stein for a long time now. I paddled with him in 2004 at my first senior camp when I was 17. It was an experience I will never forget. I remember following his results as a kid and it was really cool that I have had the privilege to train and work with him. In 2008, he helped coach us, alongside Nathan Luce, when we just missed the Olympic team. He was so passionate about coaching, he jumped in the lake the first time we broke three minutes. I hadn't really worked with him much since 2008, but I did get the opportunity to do some sessions with him and Carrie this winter, which helped me to focus on the fundamentals of paddling. I look forward to working with him at the Games and I know his passion will help inspire us in London.”
Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak CEO: “Stein’s experience as a Coach and an Olympian will be a tremendous asset to our program and athletes in London. He instills confidence and trust, which on the Olympic stage are ideal coaching qualities. USA Canoe/Kayak is fortunate to have Stein return to the Games this summer.
William Irving, USA Canoe/Kayak National Teams Director: “Shaun provides the 2012 Olympic Team with years of experience coaching at the International level. He leads one of the fastest growing clubs in the U.S. at the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation in addition to being the head coach of Oklahoma City University’s Collegiate program. We are grateful to have Shaun serving as Coach/Team Manager for the 2012 U.S. Sprint Olympic Team for the wealth of knowledge he brings to the team.”
Q&A with Stein Jorgensen
On Carrie Johnson’s medal chances in London:
“I tell her this almost every day, she is as good physically as anybody out there. She’s a great athlete and she’s very strong and very competitive. She needs to just put it all together and let it be more muscle memory than, ‘I’m going hard from the start all the way to the end.’ The races are just too long to go flat out. You need to have a little bit of control over what your doing. It takes four times the energy to go twice as fast, so you just need to get a little bit above your average speed and try and relax. Be as efficient as you can at the half way part of the race, and that’s really where the big names start racing, at the second half of the race.”
On Tim Hornsby’s progression as a paddler:
“He’s always been kind of like Carrie [Johnson], as strong as anybody out there pretty much, and he’s a good athlete. It’s just what you do when you’re on the water, how efficiently you’re applying the power and making the boat go. In January, we did a lot of stuff, just to kind of slow down what he’s been doing and try to use the bigger muscles to apply the power to the water. We did a lot of resistance paddles with him where he can’t muscle stuff so much, and I think that helped him out a lot. He started getting a little bit more ownership and [he] matured a lot as an athlete and took charge of what he needed to do and put himself in a position to be successful. He got in a good training group and it paid off.”
On what Hornsby can expect at his first Games:
“The first time you go there, you’re kind of star struck, or a lot of people are. The majority of the people that medal at the Olympics, [it’s] there second or more Olympics. Because the first time, it’s all the pageantry, and everything that gets done for TV, and everybody wants to talk to you and some people haven’t been interviewed that much, and they’re trying to give everybody an interview. Timmy’s going to be a little bit overwhelmed by some of that stuff. He did go in 2008 as a training partner, so I think he saw some of it, but I’m not sure exactly how much.”
On Johnson’s mindset heading into her third and final Games:
“For Carrie, it’s strictly a business trip. We’re going to stay in Northern Italy training until about four days before her races. She’s not even going to go to the Opening Ceremonies. She’s going to go there and do the work she needs to do right before the race and get on with the race. As you know, she’s a very, very busy girl. She’s leaving I think the day after she races, and she’s going straight to Sacramento because she starts school I think two days after her final race. She starts veterinary school at UC Davis, which is an extremely tough program and it just shows that she’s focused not just on sport but on the rest of her life, also.”
On his favorite part about coaching:
“I love going out there and I think the most rewarding thing is when you ask an athlete to do a particular thing. For me, I think I’m very technical, and you try and show them techniques, you talk to them about how to get more power onto the paddle to move the boat. And when the athletes start having success and starts going faster, you can see the excitement on their face. That’s very gratifying to me, seeing people get better.”
On the transitioning from paddling to fighting fires:
“It certainly helped me to get the job. It’s a very competitive field. There were 2,000 people going for five or six jobs when I applied. But the teamwork, when you get in the team environment, traveling with everybody, being in close quarters and trying to help each other out, it’s very similar in the firehouse. The good-natured ribbing, we call each other brothers because we are around them more than we are our regular families. I think, just being in that environment, being an athlete for so many years, being around the team, it’s just very, very similar. You try to help each other to do whatever task needs to be done.”
USA Canoe/Kayak is a non-profit membership organization based in Oklahoma City, OK, promoting canoe and kayak racing in the United States. A member of the United States Olympic Committee, USA Canoe/Kayak is the national governing body for the Olympic sports of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom and the official U.S. federation of the International Canoe Federation. Other paddling sports sanctioned by USACanoe/Kayak include Marathon, Freestyle, Wildwater, Stand Up Paddleboard, Canoe Polo, Canoe Sailing, Outrigger, and Dragon Boat. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, please visit us on the web at www.usack.org, on Twitter at @usacanoekayak and Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/USACanoeKayak.