Olch out as U.S. Speedskating head
Working for cheap on short notice wasn’t enough to convince the U.S. Speedskating board of directors he was their man, so Brad Olch opted to step down.
"Let’s just say the board decided to go in a different direction," Olch said. "I thought things were going along pretty well. I thought everybody was happy."
Upon discovering he wouldn’t be one of the final two candidates for the organization’s executive director opening, Olch relinquished his role as interim CEO two weeks before Monday’s hiring of Olympian Mark Greenwald.
The Park City mayor from 1990 through 2002 accepted the interim role in mid-March and applied for the position permanently. He made the cut from 20 applicants to the final four, but soon afterwards he was told he would not be re-hired.
U.S. Speedskating president Brad Goskowicz thanked Olch for taking very little compensation to shoulder a heavy burden for the team.
"When we brought Brad Olch in as executive director, the original thought was to have somebody keep everything together for us during the transition period," Goskowicz said. "He was very interested in (keeping) the position, and he was certainly one of the people we were looking at."
Olch suggested that he may not have been "marching to the same tune" as some of the more influential board members at U.S. Speedskating. "I pushed back on some things," he said. Even after a new board was named May 1, Olch said the power remained in the same hands. "(Goskowicz) always had control," he said.
The November mayoral runner-up to Dana Williams, Olch replaced former director Bob Crowley following a pedestrian haul of 10 medals at the Vancouver Games. Dutch bank DSB, the organization’s biggest sponsor, went bankrupt in the fall of 2009, and it took a national fundraising effort from television host Stephen Colbert to keep the team afloat through the Games.
In his short time as CEO, Olch tried to alter the organization’s emphasis on the Olympic cycle for sponsorship deals, instead negotiating contracts of five or six years that would help the team transition from the 2014 Games to 2018.
"One of the things I brought from the first week was trying to get away from the quadrennial mentality that a lot of these Olympic organizations have," Olch said. "I didn’t want to do four-year deals."
Olch also arranged severance packages for fired high-performance director Guy Thibault and communications director Peri Kinder after the team drew national media attention for the shakeups.
"There were a lot of relationships that were broken that were fixed," he said. "Speedskating had a lot of exposure at the time and, when contracts were terminated, I negotiated those contracts very favorably for U.S. Speedskating."
Of all the candidates for the permanent job, Olch brought the most connections to the table as a former member of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Organizing Committee, but Goskowicz said Greenwald won out with his rich background in the sport. Greenwald worked at the Calgary Olympic Oval and competed as an athlete for the team in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.
"Mark has kind of got the whole package as far as coming up through the system himself and running a complex organization at the oval in Calgary," Goskowicz said.
"Brad helped us through a very difficult time. His key focus was keeping things running smoothly so we had no interruptions in our programs. That was a really key piece."
This story ran in the July 10 edition of The Record.
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