Disappointment in Olympic results cited
By Gary D’Amato of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: March 14, 2010
Bob Crowley has resigned as executive director of U.S. Speedskating as part of sweeping changes by the organization in the wake of a disappointing performance by the long-track team at the Vancouver Olympics.
Brad Goskowicz, president of U.S. Speedskating, confirmed the resignations of Crowley and high-performance director Guy Thibault in a phone interview Sunday.
Goskowicz said Bradley A. Olch, former mayor of Park City, Utah, would serve as interim executive director until the board of directors names a permanent successor to Crowley.
In addition, U.S. short-track coach Jae Su Chun, whose team won six medals in Vancouver, signed a four-year contract extension that will take him through the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
U.S. Speedskating was expected to announce the moves Monday.
“It’s the normal transition after each quadrennial,” said Goskowicz, a Wauwatosa native. “It’s fairly typical.”
Goskowicz said Crowley resigned by “mutual agreement.” Crowley, hired as executive director in August, 2006, could not be reached for comment.
The long-track team won four medals in Vancouver, down from seven in Turin in 2006 and eight in Salt Lake City in 2002. The women’s team was shut out for the second consecutive Winter Games.
“I think it’s fair to say that we’re evaluating the programs,” Goskowicz said. “We really need to recruit more ladies. I think part of the issue is we just don’t give the coaches enough to work with.
“But we do expect performance and we were a little bit disappointed with the performance in Vancouver.”
A new board will be seated at the organization’s annual meeting May 1 in Richmond, Va. Goskowicz said he hoped there would be a short list of candidates for the executive director position by then and added that Crowley will stay on to help with the transition.
Jack Mortell, U.S. Speedskating vice president and short-track Olympic team leader, will assume Thibault’s duties until a replacement can be found, Goskowicz said. One of those duties is preparing the organization’s four-year plan for the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“At the end of each quadrennial you see a lot of things you did well and a lot of things you could do better,” Goskowicz said. “We came out with 10 medals (combined short- and long-track) and we left Vancouver a little disappointed. We feel like we left a couple on the table.
“So how are we going to be even better in the next quadrennial?”
Though the board will determine the direction of the program, Goskowicz said U.S. Speedskating must find ways to better utilize the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee. The national team based at the Utah Olympic Oval in suburban Salt Lake City produced just one medal-winner in Vancouver: Chad Hedrick.
Shani Davis, who won gold in the 1,000 meters and silver in the 1,500, and three of the four members of the silver medal-winning men’s pursuit team train in Milwaukee.
“No question a great number of our medals and athletes came out of the Milwaukee area,” Goskowicz said. “They did not come out of programs in Salt Lake City. It points to the fact that we have something no other country has: an enclosed sea-level facility and a high-altitude facility. The Koreans and Canadians don’t have that; even the Dutch don’t have that.
“How do we make better use of the Pettit National Ice Center? We’ve got a bunch of really, really good long-track coaches in Milwaukee. We want to make those programs stronger as opposed to usurping what they’ve accomplished.”
He said he envisioned a plan in which programs and support staff would be based at both the Olympic Oval and the Pettit Center.
“If we have trainers and nutritionists in Salt Lake, how do we have them in Milwaukee?” he said. “Let’s make the most out of both. Maybe we have people who are venue-based that coordinate the programs with the local coaches.”
Goskowicz said the re-signing of Jae Su was important for the continuity of the short-track program. All 10 members of the short-track team earned medals in Vancouver, including athletes on relay teams.
“Quite honestly, there were some other countries chasing Jae Su, including Russia, with some significant dollars,” Goskowicz said. “We’re really happy to have him with us.”
Goskowicz is the chief marketing officer of MicroBioLogics Inc., based in St. Cloud, Minn. His four-year tenure as president of U.S. Speedskating ends May 1 but he will remain on the board as immediate past president.