Speed-skating icon Susan Auch surveys the roster gaps at the top of Canada's most successful Winter Olympic sport and sees opportunity.
"It sounds like there's more of a loss of leadership than there actually is, but the truth is, if you don't change, you don't get better," Auch said in an interview after news emerged that a fourth member of Speed Skating Canada's management team is joining the exodus.
Brian Rahill, who directed Canada's 10-medal Olympic skating effort as high-performance chief, is finishing out his contract this month, and is not coming back.
"I knew this was a possibility, but I leave with no regrets knowing I gave it my all," Rahill said. "I'd love to continue working in amateur sports. I've already put some feelers out."
Already, director general Jean Dupré has left to become chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, veteran coach Marcel Lacroix (who guided skaters Christine Nesbitt, Denny Morrison and Lucas Makowsky in Vancouver this year) is retiring, and program director Finn Halvorsen was not replaced when he resigned less than a year before the 2010 Winter Games.
"Brian devoted his energy, passion for our sport and countless hours to ensure that our teams were ready to compete to the best of their abilities in Vancouver," SSC president Marie-Claire Rouleau said in a release.
"It was Brian's decision to leave," said Auch, a three-time Olympic medalist who now is a member of the SSC board of directors. "He did a great job with the Olympic team and now this is an opportunity for Speed Skating Canada.
"We don't have another Olympics coming up in Canada, so there's not an eight-year plan to work out. The money isn't there that there was with Vancouver. But we've got people with experience who haven't had a chance to shine and show their leadership. I don't think Canadians should lose faith in Speed Skating Canada."
Clara Hughes and Jeremy Wotherspoon are retiring, but skaters like Nesbitt, Shannon Rempel and Brittany Schussler will step up, she said.
"I know the skaters and I'll be delighted to see what they can do when they're not overshadowed by an Olympic Games at home at and the chase for medals," Auch said. "It's an opportunity for the up-and-comers to make gains and a chance for the organization to redefine and sharpen itself.
"In the past, we've had a huge team with little definition between the high-performance and development levels. Now, there needs to be a lot more focus on development in speed skating in Canada."
Mark Mathies, SSC national team program manager for the past eight years, will be the interim chief of speed skating.
While Canada's speed skaters collected 10 of the country's record 26 medals, there was a feeling that the long-track team underperformed at the Richmond Olympic Oval. Canadians won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals in long track and two gold, one silver and one bronze in short track at Vancouver.Report Typo/Error