24 February 2014

One last Blog Post from Nancy Sr. -its a wrap of Sochi2014

24 Feb 2014 -Nancy Sr.
After the Team Pursuit Saturday, I went by USA house to say
a few goodbyes. 
On the way out, the short track 5k relay guys
SILVER medalists 
(Creveling, Alvarez, Celski, & Malone)
were in their way in...

The closing ceremonies just ended less than 24 hours ago ago.
As you know if you've followed this, this isn't how I had expected this blog run to end :( I hadn't expected it to become an indictment of the organization, but I have no regrets for reporting as I called it. Change does not happen unless there is reason to change and the results here call for "no stone to be unturned" as the USOC's CEO Blackmun said.

This is when you accept a "spade is a spade", accept failure and turn it into success. 

But in the aftermath of this storm there seems to be an attempt by the USOC to say (http://m.nydailynews.com/1.1690122#bmb=1) it was "not a step back at all...The medals were more spread out this year, which is good for the Olympics". WHAT IS THAT TO MEAN...REALLY? If that statement couldn't have been made beforehand, which everyone knows would never have been an acceptable statement then, then why is it ok now?

He continued to say, "we weren't the only nation that got smoked by the Netherlands". 
Since when is it ok just because you're with the majority? Is that a fighting attitude? Is that how to view results that should not have happened?

It is a way to spin the facts and divert responsibility. A way to walk away and eliminate bad press. A great political move. But as you know I've been saying, just tell the truth, take responsibility, tell the athletes that it is the USOC and USS s job to lead effectively. And if the long track skaters performed so well in the fall it means they are capable again. And if they didn't, then the "just gettin smoked" is as much an organizational blunder as it could be the athletes'.
If the USOC is lending credit to the "smokin" abilities of the Dutch, they should also lend them credibility when the Dutch claim 2 reasons themselves for the US's failures:

  1. that Collabo was a contributing factor. And you know USS tried to quickly eliminate that claim when they falsely claimed the 2006 team had also done Collalbo and that justifies it (from a high per base?). As has already now been revealed, Chad Hedrick chose not to go there in 2006 and the girls team completely failed at the 2006 games again after having had great success in the fall.
  2. the Mach 39 suit characteristics had been tried already by the Dutch in 2006 and had failed. Where was our high performance team in investigating that one? 
And again, with such a sweeping general analysis of the USA team, you know it's not accurate and it is misleading. If you're going to create this team from a science perspective as is claimed, then pick it apart using scientific methods. And if that takes time, then don't throw misleading comments out to be devoured by the press/public. BUT that was the goal, to deflect the real issues.

So we'll wait and see if justice to the skaters will prevail.

Sorry, my last post was a bit confusing. I had wanted to get it all down before the games were over because the further away from immediacy, the less interesting. 

I came to these games with Brian to get the job done, and less than such a goal is not a satisfaction to me. Yet as I had discussed in an earlier post, after the 1000m, Brian had talked about the principle of the journey and the goal. He philosophized a lot that day and concluded that the journey needs to take a life of its own cause if it does end up as this has, then there needs to be some take away. And for us, that is the fun of the team and the life lessons I've tried so hard to instill (which I learned that from my father). 

We think we could have done a better job at both and should we all do this again, we have learned a few more lessons....(at a high cost)....
We just know we did the best we could this year within the limitations given to us.

Hope this Olympic blog showed the desire to push the envelope on the need to just be honest so that you never have to fear the truth...


Thank you all again so much for your comments and encouragement over these last weeks... :)

God bless,
Nancy Sr.

Videos: 

I said I few goodbyes at the USA house, but honestly I couldn't really stay/enjoy socializing. Simply speaking, in sport as it is also true in life, the harder you work or the more you sacrifice, the harder it is to accept anything less than the win/success. I could stay and talk, but it was loud and you can't carry on a conversation of depth which is all I would want to do, so I just kind a slipped out panned the scene so you could get a feel for the last night at the Olympics...



The USA Men's Team Pursuit on the ice together before they raced. Sochi Olympics, Russia. A little more glimpse of the behind the scenes of the Team Pursuit speedskating race-day. But this is not the actual race...practice beforehand.



The USA Men's Team Pursuit on the ice together warming-up before they raced. Sochi Olympics, Russia.



More of the USA Men's Team Pursuit on the ice together before they raced. Sochi Olympics, Russia.



Brian chillin before the Team Pursuit race with Jonathan Kuck and Shani Davis on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Sochi Olympics, Russia.



This was Saturday morning, the day before closing ceremonies. I just wanted to give you one last look at the Black Sea from my room. The Russians faithfully kept watch over the sea front, especially every day right in front of our hotel. These mounted police this morning were stationed there for about 4 straight hours. I went from promising I would never walk outside the protected area, to walking home the last 4 nights by myself. The Russians succeeded in creating an entirely new city of venues to keeping the entire place secure from opening to closing. A job well done. Thank you Russia!

22 February 2014

"What I felt went wrong with US Speedskating" -Nancy Sr.

What I feel went wrong with US Speedskating.........by Nancy Sr.

Last week I did 3 posts considered controversial, especially because I had signed a contract to only say things of a positive nature about USS and the USOC. I understand the importance of such if it can directly affect the athletes performance. I am inserting here the contract I had to sign and my response to it in a desperate attempt to not sign ⬇️


Coach's Agreement Contract...click on to read
My Response to the Agreement...click on to read








Those posts were after the first races that were almost a shocking revelation that something wasn't right and I feel as far as the athletes are concerned, hush hush can be even worse if they feel it's on their shoulders (and it very well could not be) and I felt it wasn't. As for the contract, I had determined it was null and void in my mind. Several points had been broken by USS and the USOC (if they were to hold to the same or simply have created the contract telling the truth). I had had enough and it was time to start fessing up and become an organization that it's athletes and membership can trust. If such is the case, I KNOW, just that alone probably would have solved problems years ago which would have prevented the systemic problems plaguing the organization now.
The points I felt broken:

  1. I was sat down in December with 6 USOC and USS leadership and told that if I were to receive an accreditation, that I couldn't coach someone from another country (referring to the German skater who had been a part of our training group). That it was a USOC policy and the USOC was behind that. (I now know that was personal to me and NOT A USOC policy). The second day at the Olympics I saw a US coach from one of the sled sports, coaching a Canadian Olympian. I asked him about it and he said the USOC had not liked it but they were allowing him to do so. WOW, SITUATIONAL ETHICS ON THE PART OF USS and USOC. And you want US athletes to be good representatives....if they outright lie to me to get what (Finn Halvorsen wanted - that was his gig), how much deeper it runs. 
  2. The contract also stated that we needed to" support the US team by maintaining a positive attitude and creating a positive environment at all times"....But how and why are we expected to do such if the reverse treatment isn't there. Once we got to Sochi, the other private coach and I were included in 2 meetings of many. We rarely felt to be a part, except for situations that directly affected our athlete, or with text messages and emails. (One US coach does not fit into this description and we're both thankful for his presence). Without getting into details, I was told by one of the coaches I could come along to a press conference (they knew I needed a pass and I didn't have one) and when we got to the entrance, I was stopped and everyone looked, turned and kept going and the USS "sports advisor" turned away to avoid me. I confronted him with an email and no response. Without seeming petty with other examples, the point here is if you want to create a team mentality, inclusion is a key maneuver and even though it was done in situations that directly affected the athlete, it wasn't done for us simply as people.
Such is a USS problem. Most people do feel there are a lot of good and competent USS people. And if the motive for wanting to be a part of USS is truly for leaving your job better than when you came and working for the athlete, then only good can happen. But when you seek power and control, and try to exclude or be elitist (even in trying to keep teams small and not giving a bone to some of the athletes struggling to make it to the top) it creates dissension and often hopelessness consequently disenfranchising so many athletes (who then quit), and membership and alumni who just believe it's not worth the fight.

Why do so many good x skaters take their talents elsewhere? That's where some energy should be put to stop disenfranchising this group. We have almost no pool of coaches, and membership and athletes is always at a new low.

So this past spring the USOC and USS reorganizes and fires some people and report that they re now on the right track. With the new leadership on board, a "boatload of money becomes available" and it's thought that this will assure us the medals.

Haven't we learned that systemic problems don't get solved with money and simply new people? Whether you like it or not, it gets solved with right motives and people who have a heart and truly care for the individual. This organization could exist on less money if the people involved were trustworthy, and truth and justice reign. People will work for and athletes will die for employers or coaches who have developed a relationship and prove their motives are as selfless as possible.

And so where did USS go wrong here? USS has been turning over every 4 years. The wheel keeps gettin reinvented and advice from alumni and membership is ignored. When the new ED came in 3 years ago, and he hired Finn and others, I didn't agree. He was hired based on his 2002 SLC Olympic success that was not a model upon which to determine the next 4 years. I preached that much of the 2002 success was home field advantage and if you try to recreate a situation that does not include home field advantage, your premise will fail.

AND FAIL IT DID.

And when one try's to lead by power and control you will surely fail. If you are truly a great organization, people will come. They will want to be a part. And then it's always good to have other contributing entities because not everyone fits the same mold. Speedskating's success has come from a lot of rogue individuals and the "fighting" mentality. To bring it under a type of socialist mentality where everyone does the same thing, you lose greatness. AND where you give freedom you get commitment or at least harmony. And when you are "forced" to comply, it's a red flag something is wrong cause if it's good, you ll want it.

As I said in earlier posts, I believe for us (teamswiderpeltz and Hansen :), that this year was going close to perfect. We achieved the success we needed in the fall, although we had to do a lot of travel and change of my Olympic year plan to accommodate both trials being in SLC.

By the way, I fought the SLC decision for so long and was told to just deal with it cause it was the right thing to do. I said no money from NBC or the coverage to USS was worth what's fair and just to the athletes. YOU WILL SOON FIND IN THE ANALYSIS OF THE DEMISE OF THE TEAM THAT THIS WILL BE A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR. But no, why would I know such....(the people who,were the deciding voters had no education to decide such but that was the decision the other coaches wanted so it flew).

I knew I needed to get a couple steps ahead, so we didn't go to the fall world cups AND Brian chose not to do the sprint world championships right before the Olympics so we could fit in 2 extra training blocks. I know what we needed and we sacrificed for that. Dan Jansen and others criticized that move, but I know it was right (and confirmed by many of the Dutch that it was s good move). I needed to keep my plan going, but then Finn and the rest of the high performance team determines what's best for me because they are steeped in science and that I have "cheated" Brian by not allowing a more "science educated" person coach him. This being told me by a team doctor just weeks before the Olympics! Why do we so protect the psyche of the athlete but don't worry about tearing down the coach. And the same was told to me by Finn when he first came in, because he wanted to get everyone to SLC and recreate 2002. (I'm still baffled how the High Performance Team couldn't figure out that that was again what I call shoddy science).

USS tells me Brian is raw talent and what I do doesn't matter. Well, likewise SLC 2002 success was raw talent then also, so don't take the credit then, Finn. Or don't base 2014 on 2002 because it's totally irrelevant.

So, for Brian we sacrifice the world sprints for a training block and then we are forced to go, to Collalbo, Italy. Where all it does is expend unnecessary energy,adjustments, and frustration. I know I've said this, but I will repeat:

  1. for lowland training athletes, altitude at that time was no,good. The benefit would be gone sooner than the SLC athletes. But we were told by the high per team from the USOC too, that it would benefit.
  2. the cold, wind, outdoor ice were factors that required an adjustment not necessary before the Olympics 
  3. these factors in addition to experiments including the skin suits, and 2 other "secrets" were a kitchen sink of distractions that I contend contributed to everyone's demise. Shoddy science. As I've said, it's science 101 that you must isolate factors to find the contributing one....Come on USS and USOC....who's thinking here. Someone should have been fired on the spot.
  4. time change was also an adjustment. The more of those the more energy expended.

YES BEFORE AN OLYMPICS, THE GOAL SHOULD BE AS FEW DISRUPTIONS AS POSSIBLE. WHY DIDNT THE USOC PROTECT US FROM THAT?

And I sent a letter to the USOC executive and asked for intervention and he said he wouldn't. That I should deal with USS myself.

I was asked why I didn't speak up in Collalbo at the debrief, and I said I was on a gag order that I could only BE POSITIVE.

So upon taking the many small hits in Collalbo, it continued with getting up at 5am to travel, then being up all day running around doing Olympic processing in Munich, then staying up til 11pm for the BMW dinner, then up at 4am to travel to Sochi. Then for 1 week the athletes had to do an excessive amount of walking trying to figure out a routine. A USS team had gone a year and then a few months in advance. That was their job to figure logistics. The Dutch figured it out and had 2 bikes for all their athletes so they would not be walking much. USS had none except for shared USOC bikes.

It is completely IRRESPONSIBLE for USS and the USOC high performance team to deny that the above disruptions in Collalbo and the following schedule and added disruptions couldn't have all contributed to the demise of the team. I will agree with the analysis of the US coaches so far that they take responsibility with their training programs, but these other factors play a role.

Back to Brian. I knew we were losing some feel and energy, not a lot, but I was hoping that Brian's incredible competitive nature and ability to throw it into 5th gear could prevail. He was close and close enough for anyone to say it was not our base training program. He was only 0.3 off a medal in the 1500m and 0.5 off the Gold and that's not a flawed program. 

Speedskating is a highly sensitive and technical sport. Every little nuance will contribute to a "negative affect". So why risk it. At this point, you DONT TAKE RISKS UNLESS YOU'RE DESPERATE. 

Finn and and those who brought him in and those who supported him should seriously consider the route those decisions mandated and they should feel responsible for the course of events here. If there were flaws in the science in Collalbo, there were flaws happening from his beginning as well as people know the preferential treatment afforded others by him and that is unconscionable for the leaders at hand to have allowed such. The latter should have been a red flag that motives were personal and a personal agenda of preferential treatment is inherent in dishonesty. And it causes dissension in the team as well as all those around. This was brought to USS and the USOC's attention, and nothing was changed.

Bottom line for me personally aside from the pervasive damage allowed by leadership (remember I do say there are a lot of good people in the sport, but the leaders have allowed personal agendas, power, control and money to dictate too much), I feel I was stripped of what I do best (coach from experience and intuition) by Finn, those who hired him, and high performance team and the leadership. 

And that same mentality probably had a lot to do with the demise of the entire team.......

Nancy Sr.

21 February 2014

Day 14 -Team Pursuit/No Medals

21 Feb 2014 -Nancy Sr.

As you all probably have seen already, the Team Pursuit didn't make it...we tried to pull it together but it didn't happen. I won't say it was for lack of trying or the training put in this year by the guys wasn't Olympic efforts, but recent preparation wasn't there and that was evident. It's often hard to say it like it is and sometimes best left unsaid, but in sport you either win or you don't. The line doesn't lie. And at this Olympics and as I hear so many times on press releases, the spin put on makes it all just fade into oblivion. Another cliché...sometimes that's what you do to move forward, but I'm kinda getting tired of the avoidance of the reality of it all. For me, the sacrifices over the last 15 years does not warrant a brush over and a spin. 

We bleed, sweated, and teared this and I don't take it lightly. Results should have been different. These guys were World Cup silver medalists just 2 1/2 months ago. It wasn't miscommunication during the TP race. Training was lacking and for a reason. As for Brian, he was prepared.

Tomorrow I will give my side that I haven't already given.


I stayed in the village area after the races, worked out, and hung out in the dining hall talking to whomever came in...kind of a mistake because now it's 3:15am :(

I'm so preoccupied on race day, and I forget to take pictures of the warmup and racing process. I wish I had done it on at least one of the days...

Because I will be writing a lot tomorrow and I didnt have any pictures/videos to show, I decided to video as I rode home. They let me in the park at 1:30am! Few were still roaming the park but it was odd to see it so empty.

I started with a repeat video of the satellite photo to give you perspective. Then took 7 video clips of the Olympic venue area and then my hotel and street (not too exciting!)

It's been a sad day...this is the first Olympics the US Long Track Speedskating team hasn't won a medal in over 30 years.


Goodnight from Sochi
Nancy Sr.


Videos:

Again, wanted to show you this video again before the videos that are coming after this one. This is a huge panoramic satellite view of the Olympic park and surroundings. They just put it up on the wall in our hotel. I thought you would get a better feel for some of the videos I've sent by looking at this to put it all in perspective. Study this a minute and then go back to some of the videos already sent. I wish I d sent this first cause it's hard to get a feel for what I ve sent without the context.



The first video in my (Nancy Sr.) trek back to my place going through the venues.



Night-Time view of the colourful speedskating Adler Arena in Sochi



From the middle of the Sochi Olympic Park....a panoramic view at night.



Another panoramic view of the Olympic venues in the Sochi Olympic park...including Adler Arena for speedskating.



Views of the Olympic Flame/Country houses....



Video of the future race track that will be the highlight of Sochi along with more of the Olympic venues at night.



The Olympic venue entrance -Sochi, Russia



The street I live on and my hotel here in Sochi.

20 February 2014

Day 13 - Day Before the TP Speedskating races!

Official Pair listing for the men's Team Pursuit
The official time schedule for Brian/Shani/Kuck's
Team Pursuit Race. 
They race their first race against
 the Canadians (see next photo of pairings) at 5:30pm
 our time (7am your time) on Friday. 
Their second race
(pending beating the Canadians in the first round) will be
 at 7:15pm our time (9:15am your time).
20 Feb 2014 -Nancy Sr. 

I can't believe what just happened! I was just finishing a 2-hr. blog here and the power went out and I lost the entire thing and I'm NOT happy :( It's 4am and I don't really want to start over, but I will start out and see if I can summarize...

I'm sending an odd array of pics and clips today :) Only one time in all these posts did I ever set out that day thinking of trying to get good visuals. Usually it just happens or I end up realizing I should find something you haven't seen.....

We had a great Team Pursuit practice this morning! They went over strategy and we discussed the signaling I'll be doing in the coaches area on the ice. We're going to try something new! Shani Davis, Brian Hansen, and Jonathan Kuck looked quite the team today and I feel they each have a forte they bring to the table. Shani brings speed and experience. Brian brings speed and consistency. Kuck is a runaway train. They can do this! Tomorrow is the first day of the Team Pursuit. 8 laps for the men. Brian, Shani Davis and Jonathan Kuck will be racing approx. 7:30am CST, 1st pair against the Canadians. I've sent a copy of the race schedule and the pairings (below!). You will see some amazing skating and great teamwork from that USA Team tomorrow!!!!!! Watch on NBC LiveExtra if you can here.

Live results can be found here: http://www.sochi2014.com/en/speed-skating-men-s-team-pursuit-quarterfinals

I sharpened Brian's skates and then ate dinner with him, Kuck, and (Emery) and took a few pictures from the dining hall (endless McDonald's and I'm amazed how many athletes eat it!).

Again in the dining hall, Jonathon Kuck, Brian, & the young
kid Emery Lehman. 
There's the all-free McDonalds in the
background. If I haven't already mentioned, you can order
anything you want 24/7 for free...amazing! 
But for me I 
would say it's NOT FOR FREE cause you end 
up "paying another price?!" 

Robert Lehmann and I went over to the recreation building and watched a bit of the women's USAvsCanada hockey game (pics).

Brian in the dining hall where he has systematically picked off all
the Blackhawks for a picture with them and put it on twitter
(called "in search of the Blackhawks") and he has produced a
following. In this picture, he's got Patrick Kane left to find
(which is did end up finding later today)!

As I rode back to my place, I realized I had finally adjusted just in time to leave! I had figured out a routine where I didn't have to depend on anyone to get around. After getting the bike (which will go to an orphanage) a week into it, I was able to stop the walking and my broken toe finally started healing and I could do a lot more. Although I still haven't seen much in the interior of the venues around the flame. I never made it to the P&G house, where Jeff Sr, Jeffrey, and Johnny hung out most of the time at the 2010 Olympics. 

I'm going to have Nancy Jr. insert the video she produced of her Vancouver Olympics Experience in 2010. I've always loved it :)  It's inspiring. You may have already seen it. ⬇️



As I rode along the circle road that encompasses the entire park I thought again, as I did the first days, how incredible this entire Olympic venue site is. There weren't many people around. Most were on the inside of the park. This Olympics will probably go down in history for the uniqueness of the containment. To my right was the Black Sea and along the waters edge I could hear the clipity-clop of the mounted police. I rode to the exit gate, locked my bike to the fence, and walked the rest of the way back...

I know you are wondering about the controversies in our skating world which have and will continue. It's very interesting as the speculation and some conclusions are starting to develope. I've made my stance somewhat clear. But some of the coaches have speculated on their coaching situation, either saying they take full responsibility with the training or the US speedskaters aren't sitting low enough to get power into the ice or the strokes are not effective on slower ice which needs more power (Salt Lake City you can get away with more gliding).


So as the coach of Brian Hansen, before speculation clouds what I feel I know as his coach, I'd like to say that it's not in our original training programs. But we had to take a hit in the preparations leading up to the Olympics, because we had to go to the Collalbo, Italy camp. It's not in Brian's technique, he is a beast when it comes to technique and that was confirmed by those who saw him. It's not in stroke frequency. Brian trains lowland and is versatile in his ability to adjust. Brian was not far off. Brian is usually under the radar and generalizations have been made about skaters as a whole. He was only a few tenth off a medal in the 1500 (only 0.59sec off of first), his 1000 a bit more (0.82sec). But what set him apart from his expectations is what I felt, as his coach, was lost in Collalbo and the verdict will be out on the suit.

Now, when I first saw the guy below who I took a picture with (left picture), I took a double take and followed him a bit, thinking exactly what you are..."Is that Mr. Miyagi?" (the real Mr. Miyagi is of course the right picture).

Of course I never asked him, but I did ask if I could take a picture with him :)




Well, I finished my second edition, although I think the first may have been better :)

Send any requests quick...

Goodnight (well, morning!)

Nancy Sr.

Videos:

I had only walked in the "activity" center once before and didn't know it was a nice place to relax for the athletes. There is live music every night, with private booths and with couches to watch any of the Olympic events. There are snacks and drinks. The other side is the game room. I took this clip for the family cause that was one of papa's (my father's) favorite songs :)



Another clip in the activity center. They really did a nice job trying to make it special and there are always plenty of volunteers standing around so wanting to be able to help you in any way possible.


The relevancy of these next 2 videos is that during my first trip in Russia for speedskating in 1977, there one picture that stands out in my mind that I will never forget...it was the older women literally all over sweeping the streets, and with hand made brooms. At the time, I think I recall talking about the low unemployment rate in Russia (and that was probably why). And now today, there are still people sweeping here constantly, and I feel bad because I think they feel the worthlessness of the job :( My heart goes out to them....



19 February 2014

Day 12 - Ladies 5k/TeamPursuit thoughts by Nancy Sr. direct from Sochi

At the USA house. As is at every Olympics,
countries 
put up temporary "houses" in the venue
area so that their athletes can have a place to meet
 friends and family during the Olympics. It typically
 has TV screens all over showing all the sports
presently going on or recaps during the day. There
 is food all day long at no cost! 
When an American
 wins a medal, they have a ceremony there in USA
 house right after the official awards ceremony
(outside by the flame). There is also a
 presentation to the coach of the athletes choice . 


[Left to right] - Brian Hansen, Emery Lehman,
 Jenny (US Speedskating), then myself, Sarah
 (with athletes in action), & Jilleanne Rookard
 in front
19 Feb 2014 -Nancy Sr.

Thanks again everyone for all the positive comments about the blog and articles you've been reading back home. It's hard to believe how much you all read and are invested in following the Olympic coverage and the first-hand accounts of what I see happening and some behind the scenes accounts.

I get back every night between 10 and 12 pm and after about 2-3 hours of texts and emails, I sit down to write this. It's 3:45am and I'm just writing these few words here with an odd array of photos and videos. 

I put in a bit about the 35-year-old Dutch woman (Carien 
Kleibeuker) who won the bronze today in the ladies 5k...after the following throwback pictures from my 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada: [I'm going to have Nancy Jr. insert that photo of myself at the 1988 Olympics skating with her on the ice which reminds me of what Carien did today with her daughter by carrying her around after winning bronze] ⬇️


Nancy Sr. carrying Nancy Jr. @ 1988 Olympics

Prince Albert of Monaco hold Nancy Jr.
And then maybe she could also insert the photo of her being ⬆️ held by Prince Albert of Monaco. He was a bobsledder at that 1988 Olympics and he is here right now at this Olympics (just a little name dropping here :)

5k Bronze medalist --> Carien Kleibeuker:
[This is Nancy Jr writing: If a mom with a job at age 35 can win BRONZE after a career that consisted of making the 2006 Olympics, then focusing on marathon skating, then making a comeback to make the 2014 Olympic team...there is a great possibility 2018 Olympics are in my future...just saying :) ]








We had an off day today, although Brian did a bike, some bike sprints, stretching and I "mashed" him (see this link for a video that I had posted earlier about this odd mashing, if you don't know what I am talking about :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZxYQYoil50

We will do a last Team Pursuit practice tomorrow before the Team Pursuit races begin on Friday with the 1st of hopefully 3 races! It should be some great racing. Some teams will be incredible, and some teams will probably show some tiredness from the 2+ weeks of racing.

If anyone really likes something I've done so far, put in a request and I'll try to do some more of that...I have 3 days left here, but will continue filling Nancy Jr.'s blog here for some days after that! Send those messages to Nancy on her FB fanpage here: https://www.facebook.com/NSwiderPeltzJr

Continue to pray for wisdom as we finish these last days and for safety. So far security has been executed amazingly well. Who knows if or how many threats or actions were ever thwarted because of a job well done. But pray for that too, and also I will be flying home through Kiev which I'm not excited about :(

Goodnight (again, its morning...) from Sochi!
Nancy Sr.

Videos:

A short video clip from the USA house here in Sochi, Russia. With a mural of the winning 1980 US Olympic hockey Team. Most of you know about that 'miracle' game, the huge Russian (Cold War) upset, which is also considered the most memorable sports moment of the 20th Century.



I had brought my 1976 Olympic skin suit and my 1980 Olympic jacket and had planned to wear it warming up with Brian one day. It just never happened, but today after practice in my coaching clothes, I skated a few laps and without knowing it, Sarah Burd (in the USA house photo) had taken a video clip from the stands and sent it to me. Here you have it!






More of the Dutch Kleintje Pils Band. I got two more songs today from them that make the stands go nuts during the ladies 5k today, this is one of them.



18 February 2014

Day 11 -Update from Nancy Sr. in Sochi, Russia

Some of my Dutch friends through the years...
A Dutch Physio, myself, Gerard Van Velde
(Dutch, SLC -Gold in 1000m),
Ronald Mulder (Dutch, Sochi -Bronze 500m),
Gianni Romme (Dutch, Nagano -2xGold, SLC -Silver),

Stefan Groothuis (Dutch, Sochi -Gold in 1000m)
18 Feb 2014

It's 3:15am as I am finishing this post and just sending these pics/clips to Nancy Jr. The last 2 nights I've only gotten 4 hours sleep each, so I'm going to leave the blog space to mostly a visual post. 

Here is an interesting Olympic story about the Dutch skater (Stephan Groothuis) who won gold in the 1000m last Wednesday.

He's the guy in the picture to the right--> sitting on the far right. Brian has interestingly been paired with him several times (has beaten him before :) but a real great guy! Read his story here...

http://bostonherald.com/node/1063888501

The Team Pursuit guys (Brian, Shani Davis, and Jonathon Kuck with Mantia) practiced together again today showing what they do best...speed and teamwork. They'll be taking a rest day tomorrow with a race prep day on Thursday and then it's SHOWTIME on Friday and Saturday.

Here's a clip of the guys team pursuit from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (Chad Hedrick, Brian Hansen, Jonathon Kuck). Watch starting at minute 45:45:




And then here is a flashback of Nancy Jr.'s Team Pursuit (with ladies Jennifer Rodriguez, Jilleanne Rookard) from Vancouver 2010...!!!! Watch the US ladies magical upset as they beat the Canadian ladies (who were set to win gold) by 0.05 seconds starting at minute 22:00:




Below: Bart Shouten, presently Canadian coach (coached Denny Morrison to Silver, Bronze here in Sochi. Also a Gold/Silver medalist from Vancouver/Turin, Italy Olympics respectively for the Team Pursuit races). Also coached American Chad Hedrick (his results are seen on the chart to the left).
Gold2006 Turin5000 m
Silver2006 Turin10000 m
Silver2010 VancouverTeam pursuit
Bronze2006 Turin1500 m
Bronze2010 Vancouver1000 m

Below: Shane Dobbin (distance skater from New Zealand). 
He just finished his 10k race which is his career's last. He's retiring after this Sochi Olympics. Took 14th in the 5k here in Sochi, 2014 & 7th today in the 10k. Was given the honor of carrying the New Zealand flag in the Sochi Opening Ceremonies. 


Jeff Klaiber (US 2x Olympian and coach of Emery Lehman - the "kid" on the US team, 17 yrs old), Maria Lamb (3x Olympian), Paul Marchese (maker of most popular custom molded skate boot being made today), Myself, Robert Lehmann (3x Olympian from Germany - was a part of our training group this year), Emery Lehmann (this Olympics 10th in the 10k, and 16th in the 5k).




The Dutch band called the (Kleintje Pils) which is one of several Dutch traveling bands who plays at all major Speedskating competitions. They are amazing. During competitions in Holland, this band continuously walks the arena playing their music, a very eclectic mixture of fun "stuff". And the crowd sings along LOUDLY and it brings a completely party nature to the competition!!!!





Here is the link to see a bit more about this band that just makes the rink come alive during competitions. And they re really fun guys! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1CbcCbJlsg&sns=em

Another short clip of the Kleintje Pils Dutch band playing during the 10,000m races today. Sochi Olympics:




The well known Dutch speedskater Sven Kramer who was expected to win 3 golds in Vancouver and came away with 1 (losing a first place finish in the infamous 10k to a missed lane change). Here he finishes 2nd in the 10k that he was expected to win.



The finish of Sven Kramer's 10k Olympic race today....epic. He took Silver.



Just sending snipits of my day so you get a feel for what the routine is. Here I am picking my bike up inside the venue area because I cannot take it out of the secured area.



Another "snip-it" of my day. It was raining all day and I resorted to wearing towels throughout the day as I rode the bike around. I just got back to my place.



Goodnight from Sochi!
Nancy Sr.

17 February 2014

Day 10 -The Elephant in the Room, more from Nancy Sr.

It's been a quiet day since I've heard a no comment policy has been issued within USS.

But I get an overwhelming feeling that a certain amount of acceptance, and...this is the "best the skaters could do" mentality is settling in. I do not accept it.



Thanks Dan for writing this. I've been hearing
 about international skaters reading your blog too!
I agree with the title of this team, that it was the Most Talented Team ever!!! The skaters entrusted themselves to the organization, believing the decisions were made by a qualified team of high performance experts. These guys deserve a statement of explanation that doesn't have to wait til the competitions are over. Respect, not controversy, will follow words honestly and carefully selected to give the athletes the faith that the organization isn't waiting a moment to get to the bottom of it. And in the meantime, to give them the tools to feel empowered to fight on with a confidence they can succeed.

And I guess one way to avoid damage control is not to talk. But that can incite speculation and I say it's worth trusting that honesty will be respected. And over time, can define the character of an organization. And couldn't we also be teaching lessons along the way of this sport journey knowing that not everyone will achieve the goals they set out to achieve? And that lesson could be learning to communicate which seems to be a valuable tool for life, and one the organization itself admits is lacking. So why not begin with tough times and show the athletes how to maneuver through such and come out on top as it is done in sport. Practical sport to life lessons...right?

There have also been comments about the team and lack of such...and that being a dysfunctionality. US Speedskating has historically touted its individualism as being it's saving factor in producing the medals we have throughout time. This needs to be continued to be embraced as it has served the US well. The US team is made up of teams and individual teams. This is not an "I" less team. That is an incorrect expectation.


As is in Holland, there are many teams and they do not share training or training ideas. They compete against each other more heatedly than the US does, and they would not survive without the "I". I believe if you accept the fact that this is an individual sport with a team aspect, that acceptance alone is simply honesty.

*************

Paul Golomski is one of US Speedskating's valuable assets. He not only knows how to make (arguably) the fastest ice in the US, but he is skating's #1 fan. He works tirelessly at the Pettit, making personal sacrifices and is always looking out for the skaters. He loves the sport and is always playing with statistics to help him with ice conditions and comparisons to other rinks. In the last years leading up to the trials having to have been in Milwaukee, he kept statistics on the successes of US athletes in different rinks, and of course looked for reasons to promote the Milwaukee rink to USS. He has kept statistics on altitude competitions vs. lowland. He has put together evidence of altitude skaters performing significantly better on altitude tracks vs lowland tracks and lowland skater performing significantly better than their counterparts on lowland tracks. He does this out of a desire to put the facts out their cause numbers show a clearer picture. Paul deserves the respect of USS and what was shown him recently is the same disrespect that private coaches have historically received ...


This Olympic Team should ask the high performance team why Paul's stats were brushed aside when presented to them a long time ago. Embracing respectfully all the entities that ultimately contribute to the 
organization will put a face on this sport it has never before had. 

Goodnight from Sochi,
Nancy Sr.


Videos:

After a day off from the 1500m Shani Davis, Brian Hansen, and Jonathan Kuck (Joey Mantia on a couple) put together a great TP practice . These guys just needed one 6 lapper to start feelin what they needed. These guys have what it takes to medal, so be watchin for this race on the 21st and 22nd of February.



Another short clip of Brian Hansen, Jonathan Kuck and Shani Davis training for the Team Pursuit races on the 21-22nd of February 2014.



A typical scene from the "Olympic life of Brian and Nancy Sr."...heads in our phones...and I'm just as bad, but don't I do Facebook and Twitter, which Brian thinks I'd love to do cause I like to make teaching "points"...

16 February 2014

Day 9: "I'm not waiting...why I told instead of 'not commenting' " -Nancy Sr.

Riding back to my place tonight in the rain, all I could think about was the finality of the situation...the Team Pursuit is ahead and it could be a shining light for these guys. But for the moment, it's one of these things that I'm just not ready to let go of...

Thanks for all the support you have sent me in response, not only to these blogs, but to the articles were printed yesterday concerning the interviews after the men's 1500m. It's been like having a roomful of friends when I read the comments you all send on Facebook :)


I think this pic is already out there . I think it says 1000 words.
Robert has been a real friend as a training partner. This was
after Brian's 1500m race...
I'm so proud to be Brian's coach,
and to have been a part time coach to Robert this year :)
At the USA house...
Brian, myself, Robert Lehmann
I decided, upon being asked the first question by the press right after the 1500 m race, that I was going to talk about what happened to Brian and why it happened. This has been a festering issue and I have believed the direction the high performance team took for this quadrennial was misdirected. Yet if athletes choose to be a part, they should be able to. And if they don't, those athletes should be able to do that too. That was a choice afforded. But when a high performance team begins to step in and affect the plans of private groups, that is unethically interfering with the outcome. These out-of-program groups don't make demands on the national program. And so likewise should be the case. Organizations risk dissension when the motive for power and control overcomes ethical behavior and justice. 

For me, unethical behavior on the part of the organization hit an unacceptable point when as a team, I was forced and threatened to comply to a preparation for the Olympics which was not in our plans. Taking myself aside here, what was done to me personally was unconscionable. But it was "justified" in the name of high performance because I cannot possibly understand what is best for Brian (because I do not have a degree in physiology or whatever science area is thought to be needed to qualify one to be a speedskating coach).
Hey Robert...You were supposed to make this
pic look like I was holding the flame!!!!


Studies have been done proving that the best coaches first, have an understanding of the sport (having competed), and secondly, having the ability to develop a relationship with the athlete. The Dutch teams do not train together and never have. And since people always look to who's succeeding, let's take a deep hard look at that one, high performance team.

I understand money is at stake in athletes saying the wrong things and print is believed. But I truly believe, if you are an above board organization, that no matter what is said in the press, if you have an established reputation of having developed a sincere relationship with your alumni, membership, and the public and you conduct yourself with honesty, fairness, and justice, that no comment to the contrary will be believed.

But the reason USS has historically had problems with what is said in the press, or USS has not had a good record with sponsors, is that it has had a history of a lack of the above. It is never too late to start such, but cynicism runs rampant. And yes, taking "full responsibility" for the long track Olympic results is the best response by the organization, but actions will have to speak louder than words cause trust must be earned .

I won't debate if waiting til the Olympics is over is the way to handle peoples questions and frustrations of the athletes. But when comments are made indicating that there is no responsibility taken on the part of the organization or that the results are "not that far off," it is an insult to much of the team. This was an incredibly talented team. There should have been no excuses. That is when leadership needs to step up and respond with answers. And if a relationship exists between the organization and the athletes, the organization doesn't have to worry about what is said, cause it's athletes know the heart of its leaders and would trust that whatever was said would be the right thing.

But if an organization simply lacks trust or it deflects responsibility or hides the truth or it has to force athletes into compliance, it will never be successful and will turn over every quadrennial as it historically does and time gets lost to the wheel being reinvented again.

Most USS, USOC, and skaters are not commenting at all because they feel it should wait til the races are over. I would normally agree with that, but the culture of this sport and USS has been such "passing of the buck" and lack of transparency at the wrong times that it has to stop somewhere. 

An interesting expansive look to the front of the ice rink.
View from inside my room to the Black Sea
 but that I don't really get to enjoy cause I
 only sleep here. I leave for the village
 and don't come back till app 10 pm.






















If trying to be an Olympian is not just about the end goal but about the journey, then the journey should include lessons. And the lesson here is that the problems would not be escalating to this point if:
  1. the High Performance (HP) Team had listened to those fighting to be heard about the need for lowland training this quadrennial
  2. the need for not only fairness by having the trials in Milwaukee to select the team but also for the benefit of the athletes preparation for lowland. Be examples as adults that money should not jeopardize a right action. 
  3. the HP team had considered the statistics indicating the % of success of the SLC skaters competing in altitude and lowland 
  4. the organization had understood the benefit to the organization of freedom and trust given to coaches and athletes to train outside the program. To the Dutch, it's a no brainer.

I may have belabored some points from yesterday, but I just started and kept my thoughts going. It was a reflective day, and I couldn't help but think about why things had to go the way they did...


Goodnight from Sochi,
Nancy Sr.

15 February 2014

Day 8 -Today's Inside Story by Nancy Sr.

15 Feb 2014

Brian gave it his all today in his 1500m and then some, but it was only 7th place, .5 behind the winner. He showed the style that I will coin his trademark because few can ever do this - THE FIFTH GEAR. He came around into the backstretch with 3/4 lap to go and threw it into a fifth gear at a time most are losing it to "glide in" mode. Another coach described him as digging down to everything he had and then fighting like hell to the finish.

It's impressive to see and as his coach I couldn't be more proud, yet for this race, more sad, because he deserved a better shot. It's one of those moments that you see your athletes face and can see through to their heart and know it's devastated.

This particular race was steeped in controversy because the US team had decided to switch from the secretly prepared 300hr wind tunnel tested revolutionary skin suit, to the Fall World Cup used skin suits. Results across the board on the US team were sub to below sub par for the first 3 races and the athletes were confused. In a fair democratically decided decision, the athletes chose to not live with regrets and take a financially risky move to switch skins in an attempt to reverse the negative results ensuing.

Brian finished his race today saying, as a truly honest athlete would say, I could maybe have pulled out that something extra...but I also believe the suit played a factor for me because I felt better (will never know). And Brian is a calculating person very attuned to his legs having a 6th sense to know what his legs are saying to him. We "scientifically" (ha) use this info to make a majority of our decisions!!!!! But after 15 years, this is an intuitively scientific determination. Those who saw him felt he gave his signature effort and his final lap was the 2nd or 3rd fastest of the day!

But I contend our preparation would have brought him a medal had other factors not come into play that were forced upon us.

We worked this pre-Olympic preparation period so carefully. We sacrificed 2 World Cup races and a Sprint World Championships to get an edge, just for it to be compromised by the decision of US Speedskating to do a pre-Olympic training period in an outdoor higher altitude training venue for their "scientific" purpose of altitude, similar (not) ice conditions, and a place to introduce 3 new "experimental" factors. I was forced to sign (by the high performance director, the executive director, the president of the board, senior sports consultant, the team leader and USOC representatives) under a "gag" order of sorts to go to this camp or I would not receive an Olympic accreditation. It was basically a threat.


A successful organization knows that you don't force people to comply unless you need them to follow because you aren't inherently good enough to be followed in the first place. Then the motives become unethical. As an organization, you should be trustworthy and so good that people WANT to follow you.

If you give freedom you get commitment. If you demand, you get a fight. Savy organizations just make themselves desireable because it's a more lasting and ethical way to keep your people.

The US Speedskating's high performance director said this was the only choice we had because the entire high performance team determined this would give the entire team, no matter from which place they came (high or low altitude) that it would give the "secret" edge.

I am a self proclaimed intuitive/experiential coach and I determined simply logically that we couldn't afford more than 1 mis-step (for which one should always make room), and you try not to use it. I knew that by going to Collalbo, Italy we would have to deal with the following:


  1. higher altitude which requires acclimation which creates a certain fatigue in adjusting
  2. outdoor conditions -cold and wind which forces different technique, different timing, and fatigues you doing something you're not accustomed to especially 3 weeks before an Olympics 
  3. ice conditions dissimilar to the Olympic ice conditions which causes a different feel and connection with the ice that you have to adjust to then readjust when going to the Olympic ice 
  4. walking to and from the facility which is not normally an issue yet 3 weeks before an Olympics is not necessary
  5. for us who were not coming from altitude, the time change just complicated the altitude change
  6. then the "scientific" benefit of altitude training is to simply give you a higher red blood cell count , which can hold for up to 2-3 weeks diminishing daily. For those coming from lowland the retention time for the Olympics would be expired so the effort to acclimate would be wasted .
  7. several new " scientific " developments were also brought out at this time in Collalbo, Italy with which to be experimented. But the consensus became inconclusive because you can't throw new factors into a new environment and expect to determine which factor is making a change. That is simply and irresponsibly faulty reasoning and contributed to the frustrations of the athletes who should have been relaxing and becoming comfortable in an atmosphere most similar to the competition.

In addition to those complications, we had to leave from Collalbo getting up at 5:00am, then traveling 4hr to Munich, then going through Olympic gear processing (on your legs) right into a BMW (sponsor) dinner. The getting to bed app 11 pm and up at 4 am to travel to Sochi was not close to ideal. In Sochi at the Olympic Village, it took the US team over a week to figure out that the walking needed to get from place to place was starting to take a toll, so bikes were brought in. But the damage was done. Between the Collalbo travel, to the time the walking issue got solved, it had been about 8 days. Enough to give the athletes another hit .

So do the math. Almost 3 weeks of adjustments and changes are not conducive to Olympic success and these factors took a toll on Brian (as they did on much of the team I can only surmise).

I am writing all this because I am letting those people know who were interested in what I was saying was the probable reason for the US speedskating team's Olympic debacle. For sure for Brian, this gave him some setback that made winning a medal the difficulty we had never prepared for it to be. Brian may or may not say this, but this entire debacle cheated him of a FAIR chance to try to win an Olympic medal.

I am also writing this because as a private coach with my education and experience level and 15 years coaching Brian, I should have been given the respect by US Speedskating and the USOC to have made a determination I thought was best for my athlete. 
(Interestingly Gerard Van Velde is the Dutch coach of the gold and bronze medalist 500m and he is an intuitive and experiential coach who who skates with his skaters as I also did. Doing so teaches the ability to coach in such a way).

It is something you can never get back and these organizations should think more ethically about how their athletes and coaches are treated. We're not talking money here.

We're talking justice and fairness---the Olympic creed!


Goodnight (good morning for me) from Sochi,
Nancy Sr.

Videos:

Before Brian Hansen's race today, as I said in the earlier videos, I sharpened skates, rode around the entire park (hadn't done that since I've come 2 weeks ago) on my way to workout, then met Brian and rode with him to the rink. Here is one of the views that went from the palm trees on the sea through a winter Olympic park to cruise ships on the sea...just a kind of interesting juxtaposition...



Another short clip from my ride around the park this morning.