U.S. Snowboarding Head Halfpipe Coach Robert “Bud” Keene, who recently coached American riders to two gold and two silver medals at the 2006 Winter Olympics, will retire at the end of the season after four years with the program, announced U.S. Snowboarding Program Director Jeremy Forster. Mike Jankowski, Keene’s assistant coach for the last three, years will be taking over as head halfpipe coach.

“Bud has elevated the level of our U.S. Snowboarding halfpipe program tremendously,” said Forster. “He established a deliberate strategy to work with all U.S. riders, regardless of their U.S. Snowboarding Team affiliation, knowing that a strong coach/rider relationship would be one of the keys to success during the Olympics. I am stoked to have had the opportunity to work with him and wish him all the best in his new position.”

Keene grew up in the unlikely “hot spot” of Virginia Beach, Va., but moved to Stowe, Vt., in 1983 to ski. He quickly became a snowboarder, riding in competition for several winters before turning to coaching after the 1989 season. He coached throughout the Nineties with the Mount Mansfield Ski & Snowboard Club before joining U.S. Snowboarding after the 2002 Olympic season.

“I feel so fortunate to have to have had the opportunity to coach the best riders in the world over the last four years,” said Keene. “The Olympic medals were a nice finish, but I am just as proud of the progress we have made at U.S. Snowboarding. I’m leaving a strong program in strong hands, and I’m stoked that U.S. Snowboarding is truly an organization that exists to help America’s best riders.”

At the 2002 Winter Games, Keene coached the halfpipe forerunners – a group which included the young Hannah Teter, who recently went on to capture the gold medal in Torino with Keene by her side. But now Keene feels it’s time to “return to his roots.” Next season, he will rejoin MMSC as head coach of the organization’s freestyle programs for snowboarding and skiing. The change allows Keene to stay closer to home in Stowe, where he and his wife Lucy live with their two sons, Zach and Kyle.

“The number one priority for what came next was that it had to be at home,” said Keene. “I’ll miss all of the friends that I’ve made on the world tour, but the good news is that I love working with kids whether they are 10-years old, 20-years old, world champions or locals. At MMSC I will still be able to have a big impact. My sons are in the program, too.”