Canadian biathlon coach Richard Boruta dies in climbing accident in Alberta

CALGARY — Resourceful and demanding, with a big heart under a tough exterior, Richard Boruta touched the lives of many Canadian biathletes.

The former national team coach died in a climbing accident near Canmore, Alta., on Aug. 9 at the age of 49.

Biathlon Canada confirmed Boruta’s death Tuesday on its website.

Born in Prague, he emigrated in 1998 to Canmore. Boruta coached Canada’s national team from 2002 to 2006, including the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.

“He’s shaped and affected and challenged a lot of athletes on the national team and provincially as well,” said three-time Olympian Zina Kocher.

“He was an incredible part of our biathlon community and pushed so many athletes to do better, achieve more.”

Boruta coached Kocher for a combined 13 years on both on the national team and at the Biathlon Alberta Training Center.

“He was always strong and direct, but he always had a great, dry sense of humour that was often hidden just below the surface,” she said. “He was always this stable rock. You could always depend on him and trust him.

“Back at the beginning, we didn’t have a lot of resources too. He was just so good at being resourceful and figuring out how to make camps fun and use the resources that we had to achieve more.”

After graduating from Prague’s Charles University with a master’s degree in physical education, Boruta started his coaching career in 1993 and worked with the Austrian junior team before his arrival in Canada.

“Boruta was well known as an unassuming, but very skilled coach with a soft voice and style accompanied by a brilliant smile that inspired his athletes to success,” the International Biathlon Union said in a statement.

Boruta returned to the developmental ranks in 2011 to coach at the Biathlon Alberta Training Centre.

Boruta oversaw many Canadian biathletes including Calgary’s Megan Bankes, who won gold at the world junior championships in February.

“Richard will be remembered for his calm demeanour, technical expertise, strong leadership abilities, and a subtle sense of humour,” Biathlon Canada said.

“Leading teams on tours all over the world, Richard was always organized, thorough, and approachable.”

Boruta is survived by his wife Kamila and sons Michal, Thomas and Lukas, as well as his mother Jirina, father Richard and granddaughter Sophie.

A memorial will be held at the Canmore Centre Day Lodge on Friday.

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