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Martin Rufener named alpine director for Canadian ski teams

Marie-Michele Gagnon of Canada competes during the first run of an alpine ski, women's World Cup slalom, in Ofterschwang , Germany, Sunday, March 10, 2013.

Associated Press

If you can't always beat them, hire their experts.

Alpine Canada announced Monday it has hired Martin Rufener for the newly-created position of alpine director. Rufener, 54, helped the Swiss ski team win multiple World Cup, world championship and Olympic medals and will now oversee the Canadian men's and women's programs leading up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and beyond.

Rufener had worked with Alpine Canada once before as a coach with the men's program.

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"I'm looking forward to coming back to Canada and helping the men's and women's teams get to the highest level – to the very top," Rufener said in a statement. "We will be focusing in the short term on Sochi 2014 but at the same time we want to look at the next generation – the athletes who will compete in 2018 – and make sure we have success in the next Olympic cycle."

Rufener transformed the Swiss men's program into a powerhouse starting in 2004. Didier Defago, Didier Cuche and Carlo Janka won dozens of races and earned gold medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Janka also became Switzerland's first World Cup overall champion since 1992.

"He's had huge success with the Swiss team in the past. He was the brains behind that team," said Erik Guay, one of the Canadian alpine racers who will be working with Rufener. "It will be good to have his connections."

Paul Kristofic, former head coach of the Canadian men's alpine ski team, will continue to oversee Alpine Canada's alpine, para-alpine and ski cross teams as vice-president of sport, with a special responsibility for national ski racing.

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Sports writer

Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. More

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