Sliding Program Coaches

Skeleton Coaches

Joe Cecchini

Head Coach, Skeleton

Joe has been passionate about skeleton since 2006 when he watched the Olympic events in Torino. He represented both Canada and Italy internationally, raced on the World Cup circuit for six years, won the national championship title twice and competed at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. Sharing his love for skeleton and seeing others experience it means everything to him. He became involved in coaching in 2018, primarily to help support development athletes on their pathway to Canada’s national team. His goal as a coach is to create an environment where his athletes learn the fundamentals of the sport safely and with enjoyment, while building the confidence and skills needed to become competitive skeleton athletes. He does not believe in showing up at the track and doing runs for the sake of doing runs. Instead, with his comprehensive coaching concept, he wants his athletes to slide with purpose and to practice proper techniques to get the most out of every single run. Joe is the current head coach for Italy’s national team, has coached athletes from multiple countries at every level including the World Cup, Youth Olympic Games and Junior World Championships.

Barrett Martineau

Coach, Skeleton

Barrett transitioned to skeleton from a very different winter sport: Nordic combined, the sport that brings together ski jumping and cross country skiing. During his twelve years on snow, he got to be a forejumper in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. During the Games however, his athletic focus suddenly changed when he witnessed Jon Montgomery win skeleton gold. Barrett decided to transition from snow to ice. In 2012, he competed in his first international skeleton race. He won bronze in the 2012 World Junior Championships, worked his way up into the World Cup team and competed in the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang in 2018. He loves the sport, because it allows him to put everything on the line, sliding down the ice at 145 km/hr head first. Skeleton also helped him become an Olympian, a dream he had since he was a young boy. As a coach, he wants to pass on his extensive knowledge to the next generation. Before coaching skeleton, he had already spent multiple years coaching the Canadian ski jumping/Nordic combined team and development athletes leading into the 2014 Olympics. His biggest advice for his athletes: “Never be satisfied, always keep pursuing bigger goals. Don't wait for your time to come, but commit to making your time happen now.”

Eric NEIlson

Coach, Skeleton

Eric got involved in the sport of skeleton quite late at the age of 25, after trying out at a talent ID camp. He made his first run down an ice track in 2006 and was part of Canada’s national skeleton team program from 2007-2014. He raced on World Cup level from 2011 to 2014 (and placed seventh in his first ever World Cup race!). Eric’s career highlights were a fourth place finish at the IBSF World Championships 2013 in St. Moritz (he also won bronze with the Canadian team at the same championships), and he got to represent Canada at the Olympic Winter Games 2014 in Sochi. The sport of skeleton is a rush like no other for him, involving the finest details to gain a slight advantage. What he likes most about the sport is that while every athlete races solo, all athletes still have to work together as a team to improve. Eric got involved in coaching because he enjoys the sport and loves being at the track, and he wants to make use of his vast knowledge of skeleton and pass it on to athletes coming up in the sport. The most important tip that Eric has for his athletes is to relax and to trust yourself – not much more to add! Eric has coached every level of athlete, from development to World Cup.

Micaela Widmer

Coach, Skeleton

Micaela competed internationally from 2006 to 2016, first for Canada, later for Switzerland up to World Cup and World Championship level. Skeleton allowed her to realize her athletic potential, push her comfort levels and travel the world. It also introduced her to some of her closest friends, and the community spirit and passion for excellence within the sport inspired her right from the start. In 2014, Micaela became involved in coaching with the Alberta Skeleton Association to earn some extra income while still a professional athlete. However, the job quickly turned into a passion. She coached for the Alberta Skeleton Association from 2014 to 2018, was Joe Cecchini’s personal coach for the 2017 & 2019 World Championships, has coached Joe’s Snipers Skeleton team since 2018 and coached Canada’s Youth Olympic Games team in January 2020. Seeing her athletes push themselves and work through challenges inspires her, and keeps her motivated to share her love of skeleton with others. Having fun while staying focused on the tasks ahead is her key to success for skeleton, a philosophy that she passes on to her athletes. She knows the Whistler Sliding Centre well from inside and outside the track, and is excited to support the Progression Camps.

Adam Snow

Assistant Coach, Skeleton

See "Snowy's" bio below in the luge section.

Luge Coaches

Brooke Apshkrum

Head Coach, Luge

Bio to follow

Mark Hatton

Coach, Luge

Mark is a 2-time Olympian and has been involved in luge since 1994. Only three years after his first run down an ice track, he became part of the British World Cup team in 1997. He represented Great Britain in the Olympic Winter Games 2002 and 2006. After his retirement in 2007, he moved to Canada to become the Luge Event Manager for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. After the Games, Mark got involved in coaching and, among others, worked with British, Argentinian and South Korean athletes on the Youth Olympic and Olympic level, and has coached beginners ranging from 6 year-olds up to members of the British Armed Forces. He is the Performance Director of the GB Luge Association and Vice President of the BC Luge Association. His fascination for luge lies in the speed, excitement, g-forces and athleticism, and the two mindsets that athletes must switch between, being aggressive and fired up for the start, and switching instantly to being relaxed and laser focused when in track. He loves coaching and sharing a small part of his athletes’ success and pride in achieving their goals, whether it is athletes becoming Olympians, or children taking their first run down the track. His philosophy for coaching is straightforward: “Have fun, be on time, be honest with yourself and your coaches, look after your equipment, don’t forget to breathe, be detail oriented (because luge is timed to a thousandth of a second!), learn to communicate effectively. And remember that, occasionally, you just need to forget everything, trust yourself and simply get on the sled and go fast.”

Adam Snow

Assistant Coach, Luge

Bio to follow

Bobsleigh Coaches

Tom Samuel

Head Coach, Bobsleigh

Tom became involved in bobsleigh in 1992. He piloted sleds up to national team and World Cup level, and won the titles of Canadian Champion and America’s Cup Champion multiple times. For him, bobsleigh is one of the most exciting and technically challenging sports on the planet. From his own career he knows that it takes world class athletes to compete at world class levels, so he decided to become a coach to help develop new athletes. It is important to him to pass along his knowledge of the sport, and to stay involved at a high competition level. His coaching philosophy is to encourage his athletes to do their best while staying safe and having fun. Furthermore, he wants them to understand that winning with integrity is the best feeling in sport. Tom looks back on many years of coaching. He worked with the Mexico Bobsleigh Team for the Olympic Winter Games in 2002, supported Alberta Bobsleigh, was a technical driving coach for the Canadian team, worked for the Jamaican bobsleigh team for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and coached the Canadian NextGen Development team, numerous other small nations, and has experience coaching para bobsleigh athletes.

Damian Boyle

Assistant Coach, Bobsleigh

Damian has been involved in bobsleigh and skeleton in Whistler since the track’s construction in 2005, both as an official and active athlete. He represented Canada in North American Cups and was part of the first ever bobsleigh team to represent BC and Whistler’s Olympic legacy track at an IBSF sanctioned race and international driving school. After ending his athletic career in 2013, he stayed involved as an official with the BC Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association and in various roles with the Whistler track, such as control tower operator and passenger bobsleigh pilot. He loves the sliding sports because they bring together people of all backgrounds and cultures, and they have taught him valuable life lessons such as respect, humility, teamwork, selflessness, determination and perseverance. He never consciously decided to become a coach. Instead, helping others came naturally, and he enjoys the rewarding feeling of playing a part in athletes’ journeys. He wants his athletes to have fun and to develop a real passion for the sport. To achieve that, teaches them the tools to slide successfully, in a positive and safe environment. Damian’s first official coaching role began in 2016 with the BCBSA.