U.S. speedskating, rich in Olympic gold, has to hold out tin cup
Anyone want to help what almost certainly will be the most successful U.S. sport at the 2010 Winter Olympics?
That is what U.S. Speedskating Executive Director Bob Crowley is asking after a bank failure knocked $300,000 out of his federation's $3.8-million annual budget.
Dutch bank DSB, which had sponsored individual skaters as well as the U.S. federation, went under in September, spurring Crowley to seek additional help if he wanted to avoid a repeat of the situation after the 2006 Olympics, when U.S. Speedskating had a deficit of about $700,000.
"Our goal is to be break-even after the 2010 Olympics," Crowley said.
Speedskaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick took a financial hit when DSB dropped its individual sponsorship programs last season. Each had six-figure deals with the bank.
The U.S. federation had used DSB's money for individual-athlete funding.
And the bankrupt bank still might be advertised on U.S. skaters' legs unless someone can figure out how to remove the large logo on the skin suits.
Crowley was meeting with U.S. Olympic Committee officials Saturday in Milwaukee, where the long track World Cup team selection meet was taking place. The competition is a showcase for 2006 Olympic champions Davis and Hedrick as well as new star Trevor Marsicano, who won a world single distance gold last year.
Olympic spots will be allocated to each country based on results of the five fall World Cup meets.
"We're not going to let anything disrupt our Olympic preparations," said Crowley, who added that he expected any major cuts to come from development programs. "We think we can win 10 to 12 medals" in short and long track at Vancouver.
The USOC is likely to kick in some funding -- maybe it can use some of the $25 million to $50 million a year it would have been wasting on the indefinitely delayed U.S. Olympic Network.
Crowley also will ask some of the federation's remaining nine sponsors if they are able to increase their support.
"What we're really looking for is a company that wants to come in and be a hero,'" Crowley said.
-- Philip Hersh