TUNA, The Utah Nordic Alliance, is excited to announce the hiring of Matthew Johnson as the new Program Director and Head Coach. Johnson is currently the Assistant Nordic Coach at Burke Mountain Academy in East Burke, Vt. In addition to working at Burke, his coaching experience includes two trips to the Scandinavian Cup, described by the US Ski Association as “one of the premier steps of the elite junior athlete and coach development pipeline.” Johnson was the trip leader for the most recent Scando Cup. Johnson has also worked as a coach at the three most recent Junior Olympics, the nation’s top race for Junior skiers. “We are excited and looking forward to dynamic growth and increased success in our Junior Programs from Learn-to-Ski to Competition with the addition of Matthew Johnson to our organization,” said TUNA President Richard Hodges. “Matt brings successful national and international coaching experience to our programs.” Matt Whitcomb, Head Women’s Coach for the US Ski Team, spoke enthusiastically of the skills Johnson will bring to TUNA’s Juniors programs. “I’ve watched Matt progress over the past four years. In the past two years we (USSA) have hired him to run the Scando Cup and he did a phenomenal job. I have no doubt he will do the same for TUNA.” “Matt is a great skier to start with, but more importantly he is a great guy. He is a strong communicator, will work well with parents and athletes and will be a great fit for the program,” Whitcomb said. Before stepping into coaching, Johnson found success as a junior racer. He has been a medalist multiple times at JOs, raced the Scando Cup, was a member of the US World Junior Ski Team and was a four year USSA All-American. Johnson raced varsity for four years at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt., and was the captain of his ski team during his senior year. He graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies and Geography. “I am excited for the opportunity to inspire and develop the next generation of competitive ski racers - just as the coaches on these teams did for me throughout my racing career,” said Johnson. Despite Johnson’s obvious qualifications, the selection of a new coach was difficult for the TUNA committee. Several outstanding candidates submitted applications for this position. Johnson will be building on the past success of Bill Hokanson, who has moved on to coach another program. Hokanson provided years of tireless and inspired coaching to juniors in the TUNA program. Johnson will start his coaching duties with TUNA in mid-August. He is currently in Norway coaching a group of high school and college athletes, and will be there through late July. In the meantime, junior dryland programs are under way, led by a variety of experienced athletes including TUNA Junior Comp coaches and former Nordic Combined US Ski Team members.