Bill Tavares of Guam was named the new interim head coach of the American luge program on Monday. Tavares takes over Miro Zayonc of Czechoslovakia, who resigned because he has Parkinson's disease. The coaching change is taking place nine months from the start of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
Zayonc had been the head coach of the American luge program since 2012. During that time Erin Hamlin of Remsen, New York became the first American female luger to win a medal at an Olympic Winter Games when she won the bronze medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
Zayonc was also coaching the American luge team during an extremely successful 2017 World Luge Championships in Igls, Austria. The United States won two silver medals in events that have Olympic status and three medals overall. Hamlin won a gold medal in the sprint (a non-Olympic event), silver in women's singles and teamed up with Tucker West of Ridgefield, Connecticut, Matthew Mortensen of Huntington Station, New York and Jayson Terdiman of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania to win silver in the mixed team event.
Zayonc, who immigrated to Canada from Czechoslovakia, became the first Canadian ever to win a medal at the World Luge Championship. He won the gold medal in men's luge at the 1983 World Luge Championships in Lake Placid, New York.
Tavares meanwhile finished ninth in men's doubles luge with Wendel Suckow of Marquette, Michigan at the 1992 OIympic Winter Games in Albertville. He was also the head coach of the American women's bobsled team before joining the American luge coaching staff in 2010.