USABS announces organizational and personnel changes
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (May 24, 2018)- After falling short of the performance goals set for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS) announced today organizational and personnel changes as Chief Executive Offer Darrin Steele realigns USABS’ structure to his vision for 2022 and 2026. The changes will be effective July 1.
Mike Kohn, Shauna Rohbock and Ashley Walden have been promoted. Kohn has been promoted to bobsled head coach, while Shauna Rohbock joins the national team coaching staff as an assistant bobsled coach. Ashley Walden assumes duties as director of sport to oversee both bobsled and skeleton programs. Tuffield Latour and Brian Shimer have been reassigned. Shimer will shift focus to his strengths as a driving coach, and Latour will now focus solely on his duties as skeleton head coach.
“For most of our history, we’ve had the luxury of being able to focus on the majority of our resources to the top athletes,” Steele said. “That is no longer a strategy we can maintain. In 2018 we were unable to advance most of our top athletes and teams into medal contention and the pipeline of talent is not what it should be. We are making changes that will provide both a better coaching structure for our elite athletes and a more effective talent pipeline for the future.”
Kohn and Shimer know each other well, not only through their time as coaches for USA Bobsled, but as athletes. Kohn was the youngest competitor in the 1991 Olympic Trials, and went on to win the 2002 Olympic four-man bronze medal with Shimer, helping to break a 46-year Olympic medal drought for the U.S. team. Kohn made the switch from push athlete to pilot after his Olympic medal in 2002 and competed at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games as a driver before joining the coaching staff in 2011. Shimer’s illustrious career in bobsled started in 1985. He became the first American Winter Olympian to compete in five Olympic Games and was chosen to carry the American flag at the Closing Ceremony in 2002. He retired after winning the bronze medal, moving trackside to help USA Bobsled win countless medals across all tours over the last 18 years, including eight Olympic medals.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to work with our tremendous athletes in this role,” Kohn said. “I will continue to give all that I have to help this team continue its history of success and make our country proud. I look forward to working closely with Shimer and the rest of our talented staff for another Olympic cycle as we build on past successes and continue to grow our team toward Beijing and beyond.”
Kohn said he considers the U.S. team the most talented in the world, not just because of the athletes’ physical abilities, but also for their fortitude.
“U.S. bobsledders are some of the toughest and hardest working athletes in sport,” Kohn said. “Their resiliency and grit have carried us through some tough times. We want to foster the grit and resiliency that has made us so formidable to our opponents and create something special moving forward.”
Rohbock is an Olympic medal-winning bobsledder and a former professional soccer player. She claimed the 2006 Olympic silver medal with Valerie Fleming, and finished sixth in 2010 with Mickie Rzepka. She began the sport of bobsled in 1999 as a brakewoman before moving into the driver’s seat in 2002. After retiring as an athlete she’s worked as a coach at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah.
“I am honored that the USABS has trusted me with continuing the success of this team,” Rohbock said. “This team has a long history of winning and being one of the best in the world. I hope by joining this very talented staff we can continue that winning history into Beijing.”
Rohbock is only the second female coach to be a part of USA Bobsled’s national team coaching staff. François Plozza was the first. She coached the women’s team, including Rohbock, leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Games.
“When I joined in 1999 there was an absence of female leadership in the sport of bobsled,” Rohbock said. “I love watching former female athletes take on coaching and administrative roles in federations around the world.”
Kohn and Rohbock are both members of the U.S. Army National Guard and the Army World Class Athlete Program. Kohn is a captain in the Virginia Army National Guard and a former member of the National Guard Outstanding Athlete Program. He joined the National Guard in 1999, nine years after becoming a member of the bobsled team. Rohbock is a sergeant and has served since 2000 when she joined the Army as a member of the National Guard.
Walden, who has worked as USABS’ director of internal operations for the last four years, will oversee both bobsled and skeleton programs and lead the coaching staff. Walden was a 16-time member on USA Luge’s national team. She competed in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, where she finished eighth.
“As we head into the next two Olympic quads our goals have not changed, but how we accomplish them has,” Walden said. “We’ve relied on veteran athletes to carry the programs, and we need to focus on rebuilding the pipeline to increase the depth within all of our programs. It will certainly be a challenge, but I am honored to continue to be a part of USABS and help lead the coaches as we pave the way to the medal stand in 2022 and 2026.”
Latour was the organization’s director of sport operations for the last Olympic cycle, but will now focus his energy on the skeleton program as its head coach. Latour has held many positions in both sports for the U.S. and Canada. Latour initially joined the staff as the Lake Placid program director before transitioning to the women’s bobsled driving coach and finally the men’s bobsled head coach. While working with the U.S. team, Latour helped secure the first-ever women’s bobsled Olympic gold medal. Latour competed as a bobsled pilot for eight years and was also ranked as high as fifth nationally in skeleton before taking an administrative role.
Sepp Plozza and Zach Lund will not return to their coaching roles with USABS. The USABS parted ways with both coaches in good standing, and Steele said it was not an easy decision.
“I assess the coaches individually, but also as a collective coaching team and reassign areas of responsibility when necessary,” Steele said. “If gaps still remain, I have to replace coaches until they are filled. We are a close family and as difficult as it is to make some of these decisions, we have to hold ourselves to the same high standards we expect fom our athletes. Sepp and Zach were dedicated and respected members of the U.S. program and I wish them well.”
For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (518) 354-2250.
About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Thorne Research, Boomerang Carnets, Hudl, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USABS website atwww.usabs.com.