Team USA has earned more Olympic medals in speedskating than in any other winter sport. But that dominance, from both the short- and long-track disciplines, is threatened by financial mismanagement and political infighting by those who have the most invested in the sport's well-being in this country — the US Speedskating governing body. Who is most responsible for speedskating's success and its potential decline?
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Consisting of 13 people, this group of volunteers is charged with directing the efforts of speedskating in the U.S. The United States Olympic Committee prefers the board not manage day-to-day operations of the sport, but that has not always been the case.
Despite USOC guidelines against boards of national governing bodies being made up entirely of people with direct connections to the sport, US Speedskating has not had a member from outside the sport since 2010.
The current board:
Tom Frank, longtime official and competition director, on the board since 2006.
Katie Traver, referee and longtime figure in Wisconsin speedskating, a member since 2010.
Fred Benjamin, a Chicago attorney and international official.
Andrew Love, a longtime competitive speedskater who lives in the Salt Lake City area.
Tim Bostley, a referee, veterinarian and founder of a skating club in Rochester, N.Y..
Rusty Smith, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist, agent for a company representing Evanston native and multiple Olympic long-track medalist Shani Davis.
Katherine Reutter, 24, silver and bronze medalist from Champaign. She recently retired.
Susan Sandvig-Shobe, from Minnesota, is a referee. On the board since 2010.
Dave Cruikshank, married to Olympic great Bonnie Blair, Olympic teammate of Mark Greenwald.
Steve Penland, skating coach with roots in suburban Chicago.
Beth Bedford, accountant from Colorado who recently returned to the board. She is the mother of Olympian Ryan Bedford.
Brian Wanek, Olympian and attorney living in Florida, he helps manages the sport's charitable foundation with Bedford.
Matt Plummer, 24-year-old long-track skater from St. Louis.
MARK GREENWALD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
In July 2010, two-time Olympian and Park Ridge native Greenwald was named US Speedskating's fourth executive director in five years.
In May 2011, US Speedskating closed its fiscal year with a $85,938 deficit. A year later, the federation's deficit reached $752,414 — a figure Greenwald told the Tribune is partly due to budgeting for $350,000 in sponsorships that never materialized.
Beyond complaints that speedskating has failed to raise enough money under Greenwald's leadership, he has been criticized for not living full time in the United States (he's a resident of Calgary, Alberta), for hiring his deputy — a Canadian who also is limited in his time the U.S. — and for being dismissive of skaters' concerns.
In January, Greenwald removed three junior skaters from a competition in Washington after the federation failed to submit paperwork to prove the skaters' citizenship, as required by international rule. Greenwald said federation officials were unaware of the rule, despite having included an explanation of the rule in their own newsletter from Oct. 10, 2011.
Greenwald has been the subject of two whistleblower complaints by then-employees and faces a pending grievance from skater Levi Kirkpatrick, who alleges threats and intimidation.
JAE SU CHUN and GUY THIBAULT, COACHES
Chun, hired in 2007 as U.S. short-track coach, and his assistant Jun Hyung Yao were suspended by US Speedskating in September following charges from skaters of "unchecked abuse" by Chun. The following day, Simon Cho, a world champion, said in an arbitration filing that he followed Chun's order to tamper with a competitor's skates at a 2011 competition.
An investigation by a law firm hired by the federation found that while Chun failed to report the tampering, investigators could not find evidence that Chun ordered the tampering. The firm cleared the coaches of the abuse allegations.
Chun and his assistant later resigned and received financial settlements.
In December, Greenwald hired Canadian Guy Thibault to be the national team's short-track coach. He is a former U.S. coach who had been fired by the federation twice before.
Following a disappointing season, short-track skaters gathered in the spring of 2012 to present their frustrations to the federation. Separately, the federation surveyed other skaters and found similar results.
Talks between the athletes and federation stalled, and USOC mediation failed to resolve the dispute. In August, 19 current and former skaters with the national racing program filed a 50-page grievance containing a laundry list of allegations. Skaters involved with the grievance boycotted the national racing program.
Six other skaters, including bronze medalist Lana Gehring of Glenview, left the program in December to train privately with Chun at a municipal rink in Salt Lake City. The U.S. short-track program was left with five skaters.
In February, six of the 19 skaters who filed the grievance against US Speedskating informally began training again with the national program. Their future with the program remains unclear.
On Thursday, the mother of James Rodowsky filed a four-page letter to the USOC requesting an audit of the federation, alleging a series of financial blunders.
US Speedskating's World Cup team, selected in September, now trains in three different programs. Beyond J.R. Celski's medals, results have shown a sharp decline since a year ago, particularly on the women's side. The next short-track world championships are March 8-10 in Hungary.