ACA gives up on men’s downhill season 

Coaches released after poor showing in World Cup, Olympics

In an unprecedented move, Alpine Canada Alpin announced on Feb. 17 that it was terminating the men’s World Cup speed team program for the remainder of the 2002 season, including four coaches who were under contract to the end of the season.

There’s only one event on the calendar in Norway before the World Cup finals in Austria, which none of the Canadians have qualified for anyway.

The decision only impacts the men’s speed team, and according to the ACA it wasn’t based entirely on the team’s poor showing at the Olympic Winter Games.

"Alpine Canada’s timing of this announcement is not entirely in relation the team’s Olympic performance, but instead to the logistics and costs in travelling to the team’s final World Cup destination," said Joze Sparovec, the ACA vice president of athletics.

"The team’s disappointing performance cannot be singled out to the coaches or the athletes but rather a combination of all the elements. This was a difficult decision but we felt a change was needed to move the program forward. We would like to recognize the efforts of these athletes and coaches and thank them for their dedication and commitment."

Whatever happens, it will likely be a very different team that takes to the slopes next year.

Toronto’s Edi Podivinsky, Calgary’s Darin McBeath, and Rossland’s David Anderson represented Canada in the speed events at Salt Lake City.

The 31 year old Podivinsky, a bronze medal winner at the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994, had already announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season. He was 24 th in the downhill at Salt Lake.

McBeath, 25, defeated by his 31 st place finish told reporters that he was considering cutting his career short. Canadian Alpine Ski Team officials will discuss McBeath’s future plans in more detail once the Olympics have wrapped up. In the meantime, he has been bumped down to the Europa Cup circuit with the national development team.

McBeath and Podivinsky are currently tied for 44 th in the World Cup downhill standings. Both are expected to race in the Canadian championships at Whistler March 11-20.

Anderson, 22, finished 38 th in the Olympic downhill, but is still considered to be a top prospect. Unfortunately he was injured crashing into a winch cat cable while training for the super G on Feb. 15. Officials are investigating the incident. His injuries, while serious, are not considered career threatening.

The coaches that have been released include head coach Peter Bosinger, Mike Syrovatka, Peter’s brother Rob Bosinger, and technician Paul Lavoie. The ACA will honour the remainder of their contracts, and will reassess their coaching needs during the off-season. Whistler’s Rob Boyd was also helping out as a coach at Salt Lake.

It has already been announced that Burkhard Schaffer, the former coach of the Austrian women’s team, will take over as the head speed coach starting in May. His mandate will be to develop Canada’s up and coming skiers into World Cup contenders.

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