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.

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