- 08 Jul 2019
From an Olympic skier to a knowledge facilitator
Ramone Cooper grew up on skis in a small, snowy mountain village in Australia. He was one of the country’s first winter sports athletes to go through a structured and defined high-performance sports pathway and got to compete in Freestyle Mogul Skiing at the Olympic Games Vancouver 2010. Today he is Associate Director for Education Services at the World Academy of Sport (WAoS) and tells us how he uses the experiences from his times as an athlete, coach and performance manager to help others take smart decisions.
How did your career as an athlete influence what you are doing today?
I was really lucky to receive well-structured and professional support as a young athlete at an early stage. Winter sport is not big in Australia, but we have a tight-knit and enthusiastic winter sports community which, through the systematic development of a talent pool, has generated some good success internationally. I started competing in Freestyle Skiing at international level at the age of 14 and retired quite early, at 21, due to a serious knee injury. This situation motivated me to share the knowledge and experiences which I had acquired as an athlete, first as a young ambassador at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Innsbruck 2012, then as a coach and later as a performance manager. I delivered performance support services to Australian winter sports athletes at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, as well as at the YOG Lillehammer 2016. During this period, I was also working as National Pathway & Programme Manager for Ski & Snowboard Australia. With my move to Switzerland I am now less involved with optimising performance outcomes of athletes, but am supporting WAoS’s important work in optimising the performance of OCOGs and other key stakeholders, like International Federations (IFs), which in return benefits athletes.
What’s your approach to knowledge management – what are your ambitions in this area?
This is a broad and complex topic and I am still on a steep learning curve, but due to my personal background I am a firm believer in the power of knowledge sharing and transfer. Whilst I am now more removed from the direct delivery of sport, I support the people who deliver it.
In the Olympic Games context, I think it is really important to see the bigger picture and the full range of stakeholders involved in the Games organisation. My involvement and the different roles I have had in past Games editions are certainly helpful in this regard. We need to look at what is required for building an organisation that can deliver the Games, what the impact on the city and the country is and how to deliver a true, positive and long-lasting legacy.
Tell us more about the work you are doing for WAoS and OGKM!
WAoS has a turnkey partnership with OGKM and together we support OCOGs and other key stakeholders to deliver the Games in a smart and efficient way. It’s a fascinating challenge! We are helping OGKM to collect and share collective wisdom that’s been developed over a range of Games editions, apply that to the local context and empower OCOGs to implement best practice management solutions to hosting a Games that align to legacy objectives.
Personally I am particularly involved with the Executive Learning Pathway (ELP), which provides a unique environment for senior OCOG and delivery partners to consider the large strategic decisions to enhance Games value and seek the highest level of delivery efficiency. I am also involved with the new Event Management Development Programme (EMDP) which is targeted at developing tailored training programmes specifically for Venue General Managers to support and enhance Tokyo 2020’s Operational Readiness Programme. Outside the Games context I collaborate directly with IFs, governments, NOCs, NPCs and also the IPC, especially in the field of athlete development.
Now that you are living in Switzerland, are you still involved with winter sports personally and professionally?
Yes, definitely! I am still very passionate about it and was recently appointed Chef de Mission for the Australian team at next year’s YOG in Lausanne, my adopted home. This is a great honour and responsibility. I am looking forward to this role. Privately, I am enjoying the Swiss Alps a great deal, and particularly the moguls on the slopes of the Portes du Soleil.