US Speedskating is facing a mass mutiny by nearly 20 athletes who’ve filed a complaint against short-track head coach Jae Su Chun and two assistants charging “unchecked abuse,” both physical and psychological.
Chun, who skaters said routinely insulted and humiliated them, insisted that he had done nothing of the sort but the federation last weekend placed him on administrative leave pending the outcome of its investigation.
The skaters, who include multiple medalists from the 2010 Games but not stars Katherine Reutter, Lana Gehring, and Simon Cho, said that they won’t try out for the World Cup team next week unless Chun, interim coach Jun Hyung Yeo, and Jimmy Jang are removed.
Chun, who was given a four-year contract extension after directing the squad to six medals in Vancouver, clearly has the technical savvy to produce a contending team in a sport that has come to be dominated by Asians. But he apparently doesn’t realize that the hands-on, in-your-face approach that is considered routine in China and Korea isn’t acceptable in the States.
After five years, two Olympic gold medals, a World Cup silver, and a 90-6-10 record, US women’s soccer coach Pia Sundhage will have her swansong in Wednesday’s friendly match against Australia in Commerce City, Colo. The former Breakers coach is returning to her homeland, where she’ll prepare the host Swedish squad for next year’s European championships. Word is that US Soccer may go domestic for Sundhage’s replacement. Among the names mentioned are assistant Erica Walsh, who coaches Penn State, and development director Jill Ellis as well as former head coaches April Heinrichs, now technical director, and Tony DiCicco, who produced the last Cup triumph in 1999 . . . McKayla Maroney’s broken leg is a cautionary tale about what can happen when you take Olympic gymnasts on an exhibition tour with decidedly less daily practice time than they had had in the months before the Games. Maroney, who competed only on vault in London, fractured her left tibia dismounting from the uneven bars at the second stop on the 40-city circuit and had two screws inserted during surgery. Aly Raisman also tumbled on bars, bruising both knees in her weakest event. If that trend continues, they’ll be using the juniors by the time the tour reaches Boston in November . . . With more doping revelations from cyclists expected to follow in the wake of Lance Armstrong’s recent lifetime ban, the international federation this week will consider offering amnesty to drug users. While there’s no provision for that in the global anti-doping code, WADA isn’t opposed to the concept. “You’re entering into uncharted territory,” observed director general David Howman, “but we wouldn’t have found the world if we didn’t bother going into uncharted territory.” And while Tyler Hamilton has come under fire for his detailed exposure of the doping culture at the sport’s elite level in his new book “The Secret Race”, Howman called it “compulsory reading.” “It’s very detailed,” he said, “something we will study closely in terms of how a sophisticated cheater is continuing to avoid detection.”
After London’s worst-ever Olympic performance, during which no male entrant made the medal round, USA Boxing has brought in a master tutor in Cuban trainer Pedro Roque Otano, a former world Coach of the Year who has taught 35 Olympic and 43 world medalists. Roque Otano, who has signed on as international teaching coach, will help develop both coaches and boxers at the elite level . . . Even though Missy Franklin will pass up a couple of million dollars in endorsements if she opts to swim in college, she still gets to keep the quarter of a million in bonuses that she earned from the US Olympic Committee and USA Swimming for winning four golds and a bronze in London. Franklin, who still has a year to go at Regis Jesuit High in Colorado, is leaning toward competing — she already has visited Cal-Berkeley and plans to check out Georgia, Texas, and Southern Cal. If she decides to cash in, she still can work out with a college varsity and serve as a volunteer coach, as Michael Phelps did at Michigan after he turned pro . . . Tom Terhaar, who has coached the US women’s eight to two Olympic gold medals and a silver plus six world titles during the past decade, will stay behind the megaphone all the way to Rio. With at least three oarswomen retiring, Terhaar is braced for a rebuilding job. “It will be more like it was in 2005 when we had very few returnees,” he observed. “We’ll be starting from scratch.” Stepping in as US Rowing’s high performance director is former Princeton coach Curtis Jordan, who has directed US boats at four Games and mentored the Australian men’s eight in London.
Fishing with lure
Just as the Boston Marathon signed up the entire US Olympic women’s team (Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, and Desiree Davila) for next year’s race, the New York organizers will bring in two members of the men’s team for its November event — Meb Keflezighi, the former NYC titlist who placed fourth in London, and Abdi Abdirahman. Until Ryan Hall withdrew recently with nagging injuries, all three Yanks were scheduled to take the line at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. In the fold as well are Jason Hartmann, this year’s top domestic finisher (fourth) in Boston, and Brett Gotcher, who was fifth at the Olympic trials. Part of the lure is a new $100,000 purse for the top five male and female American finishers . . . Saturday’s Fifth Avenue Mile in New York will be a five-ringed reunion with more than 15 Olympians entered, including defending champions Bernard Lagat and world titlist Jenny Simpson, two-time victor Shannon Rowbury, global runner-up Hannah England, and Leo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz, who finished 2-4 in the 1,500 in London . . . USA Luge’s slider search, which produced eight members of the 2010 Olympic team including former world champion Erin Warren, will come to Carlisle Saturday and Sunday for free daily double sessions for hopefuls between the ages of 9 and 13, who’ll go downhill on roller sleds. Register at www.usaluge.org or call 1-800-USA-LUGE . . . Taking over from Mark Grimmette as coach of the US luge team is longtime junior mentor Miroslav Zayonc, the Czech emigre who competed for both Canada and the US. Grimmette, a two-time Olympic medalist, will focus on his other job as sports director while serving as Zayonc’s assistant.
Evan Lysacek has not competed since he won the Olympic gold medal in Vancouver two years ago but don’t bet against him making the two-man US team for next winter’s world figure skating championships in Ontario. Lysacek, who’ll make his reentry at Skate America next month in Seattle, has been training for more than a year and still is the top of the crop if he stays sound. The two-time domestic champion, who has made the podium in his last six appearances, still is the last US male to win a world medal . . . Former world champion Kimmie Meissner, three-time US champion Jeremy Abbott, and reigning bronze medalists Ross Miner and Agnes Zawadzki will be the headliners at the 42d annual Evening with Champions at Harvard’s Bright Center, with proceeds benefiting the Jimmy Fund. Tickets for the Sept. 29 and 30 shows are available at the Harvard Box Office in the Holyoke Center Arcade or online at www.eveningwithchampions.org . . . With Mary Beth Marley leaving competitive skating at 17 and Amanda Evora retiring, US champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin are the only pairs medalists returning for the upcoming season. The constant turnover may explain why no American entry has won a world medal since 2002 . . . Karch Kiraly, the only volleyball player to win Olympic gold medals both indoors and on the beach, has been tapped to coach the US women’s indoor squad in its bid to finally knock off nemesis Brazil in Rio. The Americans, who took the silver in Beijing and London, never have won any of the global Big 3 crowns — Olympics, World Championships, and World Cup. Kiraly was an assistant to Hugh McCutcheon, who has moved on to coach Minnesota’s women’s varsity.