Speed Skating Canada Refocuses for Vancouver 2010

With lofty goals for 2010 and in keeping with its motto of the relentless pursuit of excellence, Speed Skating Canada (SSC) recently underwent an internal restructuring of its high performance and sport development programs, hiring Brian Rahill as Director of Sport.

The Director of Sport is a new position that replaces the former High Performance Director position, previously held by Emery Holmik. It also creates a closer link between high performance and sport development. Holmik left SSC this summer to return to his homeland and work at the high performance centre in Canberra, Australia.

Brian Rahill is a familiar name in Canadian speed skating circles. He was SSC’s Executive Director of Operations from 2002 to 2004 and the Team Leader for the short track team at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Since 2004, he had been the Manager of Games with the Canadian Olympic Committee.

“I’m delighted to return to Speed Skating Canada and help contribute to Canada’s objective to be the number one nation at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver/Whistler,” said Rahill. “Based on the last three Olympics, the expectations are very high that Canadian speed skaters will do very well at those Games and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

With the new developments, SSC brought together its High Performance and its Sport Development departments, hoping to make a more seamless path for athletes to follow from playground to podium. SSC also created two new positions of program directors for both the long and short track speed skating programs. Those two positions, based at the respective national training centres in Calgary and Montreal, will improve the management of the programs and increase the support and services available to athletes and coaches.

Yves Hamelin was hired to fill the position of Program Director for short track speed skating in Montreal. Hamelin comes to SSC with many years of coaching and volunteer involvement with short track teams and events, and more recently has been greatly involved with the short track regional training centre in Montreal.

“I am really pleased to join Speed Skating Canada with the Short Track high performance program,” said Hamelin. “As the former head coach for the Montreal International speed skating team, this change is a real opportunity for me to work with the national team and various Canadian sport partners to contribute to the lofty objectives set out for the 2010 Olympic Games.”

The Program Director for long track speed skating position was filled by Finn Halverson. Halverson headed the speed skating high performance program in the United States from 1998 to 2002 leading to the Salt Lake City Olympics. He was recently working as a consultant for the Norwegian Olympic Committee, and as a professor at Raelingen of Akershus University in Norway. Finn Halverson has a flawless reputation and unmatched expertise in long track speed skating.

“I am honored and thrilled to join SSC, and look forward to four years of exciting challenges, working to achieve another outstanding Canadian performance in Vancouver in 2010,” expressed Finn Halverson.

Changes also occurred in the coaching structure at these two training centres. The short track national training centre based in Montreal now operates with a new coaching structure of four coaches intended to maximize their strengths in a team environment. The four coaches are Derrick Campbell, Martin Gagné, Janos Englert, and Laurent Daigneault. Jae Su Chun was also added to the team in order to provide technical, tactical and equipment expertise to all athletes in the Montreal training centre. Jonathon Cavar will continue coaching the short track speed skaters based in Calgary.

The Calgary long track national training centre will be supervised by three national team coaches: Neal Marshall, Xiuli Wang and Marcel Lacroix. Sean Ireland has taken on a management role in the administration of the Calgary Olympic Oval’s high performance programs and Arno Hoogveld will be leading a group of talented development athletes. At the national training centre in Ste-Foy, Gregor Jelonek and Robert Tremblay will continue with their coaching duties of national team, development team and provincial athletes.

“With these developments, SSC is ready to start the 2006-2007 season and launch into the new cycle leading up to the Vancouver Olympic Games in 2010,” says Jean R. Dupré, Director General of SSC. “Remaining the top nation in the world requires a constant repositioning. Status quo is simply not acceptable.”