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.