Matt Antoine

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USA Bobsled and Skeleton dismisses longtime CEO Darrin Steele

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USA Bobsled and Skeleton has fired CEO Darrin Steele, who oversaw teams that won nine Olympic medals and 12 world championship medals.

Steele will remain in place for about another month. The federation’s board of directors did not cite a specific reason for the change. Athletes were told in a conference call Tuesday night, and John Rosen will assume the CEO role on an interim basis until a permanent hire is made.

“This was a very difficult decision,” USABS board chair Bob Bergbauer said. “We are grateful for Darrin’s guidance, but the board feels it’s time for a fresh perspective as we head into the future.”

The news comes less than two months before the federation begins work for the coming season.

“Darrin did a great job and I’ll always appreciate everything he ever did for us,” USA Bobsled coach Mike Kohn said after the news was announced. “The thing about Darrin that a lot of people don’t understand is there’s a lot that goes on that people never know about, high-level things that take place that pave the way for people to be successful. That’s the thing Darrin was great about and great about helping me with.”

Steele was a two-time Olympic athlete in bobsled, and then took over as CEO in 2007. The U.S. sled driven by Steven Holcomb won four-man gold in Vancouver three years later, ending a 62-year drought for the Americans in bobsled’s signature race. Holcomb drove to two more medals at the Sochi Games in 2014, and U.S. women’s drivers Erin Pac, Elana Meyers Taylor (twice) and Jamie Greubel Poser all guided sleds to Olympic medals during Steele’s tenure as well. Noelle Pikus-Pace and Matt Antoine won Olympic skeleton medals, and for much of Steele’s tenure the federation enjoyed constant success.

But the last two years have been filled with one issue after another. Holcomb died in 2017, sending shock waves through the team and the entire federation. The bobsled and skeleton teams managed just one medal at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018, and last year’s World Cup season landed only eight medals — seven earned by the driving of Meyers Taylor, and the other a bronze in women’s skeleton by Kendall Wesenberg.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the past 12 years with USABS,” Steele said in a statement released by the federation. “I’ve been able to work with some amazing people and shared some incredible moments that I’ll never forget. I’m proud of the work we’ve done, and I wish the organization well as the baton is passed to the next federation leader.”

Steele is also a vice president for the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation, the sport’s governing body. He will remain in that role.

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Olympic medalist Matt Antoine retires from skeleton

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Matt Antoine, the 2014 Olympic skeleton bronze medalist, announced his retirement and move to coaching after winning the U.S. selection races for the upcoming World Cup season.

“Even though I know competing isn’t right for me anymore, I still feel like I have a lot to give to the sport,” the two-time Olympian said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “I want to be involved, even if it’s in a different capacity.”

Antoine’s career highlight came in Sochi, but it was tinged with sadness.

Antoine passed countryman John Daly for third place after the third run by .04. In the fourth and final run, Daly’s sled came out of the groove during the start, which sent him into a skid. Daly finished 15th, which all but guaranteed Antoine a medal.

“If I could pick anyone to beat me tonight or get a medal, I’d pick my own teammate Matt Antoine,” Daly said to NBC that night, choking back tears. “The first thing he thought about was consoling me. He said, ‘The only reason I got this medal is because of you. We’re only as good as we are because we had each other.’ He’s the most selfless person I know.”

Antoine joined 2002 Olympic gold medalist Jim Shea, his inspiration to switch from snowboarding, as the only U.S. men to earn skeleton medals since it was re-added to the program for the Salt Lake City Winter Games.

“It’s definitely the best moment of my life, without a doubt,” Antoine said that night at the Sanki Sliding Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

Antoine, 33, said a year later that he was diagnosed with depression and that he nearly retired after Sochi.

“Everyone, at some point, needs help,” Antoine said then, according to The Associated Press. “At first I almost felt defeated that I had to seek medical and professional help. It felt like I had lost.

“I don’t feel that way anymore.”

Antoine bought a house in Phoenix, adopted Dixie, a golden retriever, and regained control of his life. He ended his Olympic career with an 11th-place finish in PyeongChang.

Antoine was the top U.S. slider on the World Cup the last five years, finishing between third and eighth in the standings, and the only American man to make a World Cup podium in the last eight years.

At his first skeleton tryout 15 years ago, Antoine was told he wasn’t good enough and sent home. He came back the next winter and made the development team.

“I knew after one run that it was something I loved and wanted to do,” he said.

Daly’s career is likely over after he came out of retirement and placed 16th in PyeongChang. Four-time Olympian Katie Uhlaender did not slide in World Cup selection races, and it’s unclear if she will compete this season.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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U.S. Olympic skeleton team finalized

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Katie Uhlaender is going to a record fourth Olympics for a U.S. skeleton slider and looking for either her first or second Olympic medal.

The 33-year-old was one of four athletes named to the U.S. Olympic skeleton team on Monday, joining Sochi bronze medalist Matt Antoine, 2010 and 2014 Olympian John Daly and first-time Olympian Kendall Wesenberg.

Uhlaender placed fourth in Sochi, .04 behind Russian bronze medalist Elena Nikitina.

Nikitina’s bronze medal was stripped last year due to doping, and she was barred from the Olympics for life, though she is appealing. Uhlaender waits to see if she will be upgraded from fourth place to bronze.

Antoine, too, could be upgraded since Aleksandr Tretiyakov was stripped of his gold.

Daly was in fourth place after three of four runs in Sochi but finished 15th after slipping at the start of his final run.

He came out of a two-year retirement in 2016, hoping for another chance to author a different ending to his Olympic career.

Wesenberg, 27, is the only American slider to earn a World Cup medal since the start of 2017.

She first learned of the sport while watching bobsled during the 2010 Olympics. Wesenberg finished her degree at Colorado, where she played club soccer, and moved to Utah in 2012 to pursue skeleton.

The best World Cup finish for any American this season is seventh.

The Olympic men’s gold-medal favorites are South Korean Yun Sung-bin and Latvian Martins Dukurs. The top women are Germans Jacqueline Loelling and Tina Hermann and Canadians Elisabeth Vathje and Mirela Rahneva.

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