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U.S. Speedskating finds replacement for embattled former short-track coach

Published December 4, 2012 4:56 pm

Short-track • Thibault will take over after scandal with Chun.
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Guy Thibault is returning to U.S. Speedskating.

The two-time Olympian who previously served two important roles for the federation will take over as coach of the national short-track team, replacing Jae Su Chun, who resigned in October amid a skate-tampering scandal and allegations of abuse.

Thibault will begin his job Dec. 13, the federation announced Tuesday, but won't actually begin coaching until after the upcoming U.S. Short-Track Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns from Dec. 20-22.

Until then, interim coach Steven Gough will continue working with the athletes within the federation's national racing program.

Thibault had been working as the high-performance adviser for the German Speedskating Federation, and had worked as the U.S. long-track coach from 1995-98 and the high-performance director for both long- and short-track from 2006-10.

"I'm thrilled to be back with U.S. Speedskating, especially in a head coaching role," he said in a statement. "Coaching has been a passion for more than 15 years and it feels great to get the chance to do it again."

Thibault will have his hands full, with the program in disarray following the scandal that cost Chun and assistant coach Jun Hyung Yeo their jobs nearly two months ago.

Both were accused by a dozen skaters of abusing them — all had left the national racing program, to train with another club based at the Utah Olympic Oval — and skater Simon Cho alleged Chun ordered him to tamper with a rival's skates at the 2011 world championships in Poland.

An independent investigation found no "pattern" of abuse by the coaches, but the men resigned after acknowledging they knew about Cho's sabotage — Chun denied ordering it — and kept it a secret.

U.S. Speedskating still is weighing sanctions against Cho for his actions.

None of the skaters who left the national racing program has returned, a federation spokeswoman said, and now six others have requested leaves of absence in order to continue training under Chun and Yeo at a local club that evidently has hired the coaches.

Chun and Yeo accepted sanctions as part of their resignations that ban them from official coaching duties at international events until after the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and any skaters who depart the national racing program would forfeit substantial financial and training resources.