After months of interviews and many candidates having been considered, AusCycling announced today that Jesse Korf – the ‘interim performance director’ of recent months – will be the performance director.
“I’m looking forward to creating a real focus on developing people to push the frontiers of human performance and to support riders and staff to be at their best in their career at the Australian Cycling Team and beyond.”
– Jesse Korf
There’s a new person in charge of the high-performance program for competitive cycling in Australia. Jesse Korf is a Dutchman (who also holds a Canadian passport) who has worked with AusCycling in recent times.
Until today’s news, Korf was the ‘interim performance director’, stepping into the role shortly after the Tokyo Olympics, which concluded in August 2021.
RIDE Media has been following the selection process for the job that brings with it a great deal of responsibility and considerable power to influence the direction of cycling in this country. There were some interesting candidates who applied, but today’s announcement confirms rumours which have circulated since last year.
His name repeatedly came up in discussion about the role, so we asked a few people who have worked with Korf in the past and it’s clear that – although he lacks the experience of guiding a national team at Olympic level – he is the right man for the job.
“Jesse is not ego-driven,” says Andrea Wooles, who worked with him in Canada. “He’s driven by a genuine passion to make things better for people.”
The official release from AusCycling explains that Korf has “a PhD in Kinesiology and Health Science” and that he also “holds a Master’s degree in International Sports Management from the Johan Cruyff Institute in Amsterdam”.
It will be interesting to see what direction he takes the various nationals teams that are now all united under the auspices of ‘AusCycling’, which brings together the various disciplines of cycling – road, track, MTB, BMX, cyclocross, etc – after being established in 2020.
When we first spoke, Korf explained some of his background and outlined a rough plan for what he thought cycling in Australia would look like, but we are yet to do a formal interview (although one has been requested).
Korf is a relatively new name to many, even those who have closely followed Australian cycling, but if Wooles appraisal is anything to go by, things are about to get a lot more interesting for our national team(s).
AusCycling’s CEO Marne Fechner offered a quick overview of the interviews conducted before Korf was confirmed as the new “Executive General Manager, Performance”.
“We met many outstanding candidates during this process,’’ she says, “but what stood out about Jesse was his vision for the program, his emphasis on driving great culture and his commitment to creating robust pathways for athletes coming into and leaving the system.”
Wooles believes Korf is ready for a new challenge and her appraisal, given months before the appointment was confirmed, should offer some relief to those following cycling in Australia.
“He’s evidence-based,” explained Wooles, “you should see the research and spreadsheets and modelling that goes into any decisions he makes – we used to geek out on spreadsheets for hours. But not just the data – the meaning hidden in it, or what was left out of it. He has the ability to look at data and see human beings.
“He’s an athlete and a coach, and sees things from many perspectives.
“What you see is what you get with him – there’s no ‘mask’ that he wears. He’s not got any hidden agenda.”
Interestingly, her summary of Korf – even when he was interim performance director – suggests that being new may also be a benefit for the Australian Cycling Team.
“He’s an incredible asset to Australia. The fact that he’s not a ‘big name’ in cycling is a good thing.”
– By Rob Arnold