USA Bobsled makes big changes

Updated: May 16, 2014, 6:04 PM ET
Associated Press

After winning six medals at the Sochi Olympics, the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is making big changes.

Tuffy Latour has been promoted to be the federation's director of sport operations, while Brian Shimer will now coach both men's and women's bobsledders. And with those teams now essentially merged, Todd Hays -- a former Olympic pilot who guided the women's team to two medals in Sochi -- is losing his job with the U.S. program.

The moves were announced Friday by the USBSF.

"Our resistance to complacency and our willingness to take calculated risks have been two defining values in the USBSF since 2007, and we will remain true to those values as we look to 2018," USBSF CEO Darrin Steele said.

The changes take effect July 1 and should last through at least the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

"Brian Shimer is a great coach. I'm excited to work closer with him," two-time Olympic women's bobsled medalist Elana Meyers Taylor said. "I had a close bond with Todd as well, and I'm sure he'll be coaching against us somewhere next year."

Ashley Walden, a former luge Olympian, will be the federation's director of internal operations, and former Penkse Racing Manager Richard Laubenstein takes over as crew chief. Walden is assuming some of the duties previously held by Scott Novack, who will not return to his role as the USBSF's high performance director.

Steele said the decisions to part with Hays and Novack were not easy.

"Both were key members of the team in the last quad, which made these structural decisions very difficult," Steele said.

The USBSF won medals in all five disciplines -- 2-man, 4-man, women's bobsled, men's skeleton and women's skeleton -- at the Sochi Games, meaning expectations will be high for Pyeongchang.

Latour was most recently the team's skeleton coach, one of many positions he's held within the USBSF. He started with the federation as its program director in the 1990s and had stints as the women's bobsled driving coach and men's bobsled head coach before returning to USBSF after the Vancouver Games to take over as skeleton coach.

Latour said even after the changes, the USBSF "is one team -- a team of professionals."

"I think that my experience with both sports will benefit the team as we prepare for the 2018 Olympic Games," Latour said. "My main focuses are on maximizing technology, team building, putting the athletes first and trusting the process. It's never easy to come off a successful Olympic Games and make changes within an organization."

Shimer has been part of the U.S. men's bobsled landscape for about three decades. He raced with Herschel Walker in the 1988 Olympics, piloted USA-1 in three different Olympic races and capped his driving career with a four-man bronze medal at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. His coaching career began not long afterward.

The bobsled and skeleton teams will start their selection trials in October at Lake Placid, New York, the expected site of the season's first stop on the World Cup circuit.


Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press

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