March 4, 2013, Calgary, AB (ISN) – On the heels of another successful winter-sport season for Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic sports, Ken Read has stepped down from his position as director, winter sport for Own the Podium.
The Crazy Canuck made the decision official on Monday after consulting with the leadership team at Own the Podium.
“Own the Podium’s recent focus has been to secure the necessary funding winter sports require to contend to be number one in Sochi,” said Read. “With a record financial commitment made by our partners that is now in place, it was time to consider the leadership of winter sport within Own the Podium.
There is never a good time to make these changes, but it was my strong belief that continuity is critical if we wish to maintain our focus on being a world leader in winter sport,” added Read. “Much of the leg work for 2014 is now complete so I believe this is an opportune time to recruit and immerse a talented individual into the program who will carry the torch well beyond 2018 for Canada’s winter-sport athletes.”
A fierce competitor, both in the boardroom and on the snow where he became one of Canada’s greatest alpine skiers, Read brought more than four decades of sport leadership experience in a variety of roles to Own the Podium. The former president and chief executive officer of Alpine Canada Alpin was one of the sport leaders that founded Own the Podium in 2004, and he served on the initial steering committee for the world-unique organization leading up to the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy.
“Ken has done a great job of ensuring Canada’s high-performance winter-sport culture remains focused on winning,” said Anne Merklinger, chief executive officer, Own the Podium. “Ken has also played a pivotal role in Own the Podium’s evolution, and positioning Canadian athletes for success next winter in Sochi.”
Read’s three-year stint as director of winter sport with Own the Podium began in May 2010 where he contributed to the organization’s clear mission for medals. Working with the management team, Read was instrumental in securing, and increasing, the financial envelope available to the nation’s winter-sport athletes. Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic sport groups have been able to access nearly $90 million in the quadrennial leading to Sochi – a $10 million increase in what was available heading into the 2010 Games in Vancouver-Whistler. These resources are being used to ensure that Canada’s podium potential athletes have access to superior coaching, optimal training and competition environments, quality sport medicine and sport science support and world leading research and innovation.
“Our mission has been to build a collaborative system that provides the critical technical and financial support to prepare our athletes to be best in the world,” said Read. “I am proud of the work our winter sport team has accomplished together with our partners, while remaining committed to the ultimate goal of creating more medal-winners for Canada.”
During his tenure, Canada’s winter-sport athletes have not wavered in their focus to contend for number one in the overall medal count at the Olympic Winter Games, and to place top-three in the gold medal count at the Paralympic Winter Games. Canada continues to be a winter-sport powerhouse ranking near the top of the World Championship and World Cup medal counts for Olympic and Paralympic sport with just under one year remaining until the opening of the 2014 Games.
“Since 2011, Canada has truly ‘owned the podium,” said Read. “This is only possible through the remarkable talents of our athletes, the driving technical leadership of our national sport organizations, and the collaborative support and teamwork of the partners – the Government of Canada and Sport Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and the Canadian Sport Institute network. Through this continued teamwork, there is every reason to believe Canadian athletes will once again inspire the nation with their performances in Sochi.”
Own the Podium will immediately begin its search for a new director, winter sport. A transition plan will be implemented that provides priority focus and support during the final preparation phase for the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
“In working with Ken, we have assembled a talented and dedicated team of colleagues in Calgary who are hungry to help Canadian athletes achieve their performance goals,” said Merklinger. “Together we have a strong plan, a clear vision, a dynamic Board of Directors, and great people who are fully committed to ensuring we meet our objectives during this time of transition. We are going to lean on these people now to keep our mission moving forward, and look forward to finding the next leader of our winter-sport program.”
Read’s last day with Own the Podium will be on March 28, 2013. He will continue his active involvement in sport, which includes committee work with the International Ski Federation and within the alpine ski community.
About Own the Podium
Own the Podium, a not-for-profit organization, prioritizes and determines investment strategies to national sport organizations in an effort to deliver more Olympic and Paralympic medals for Canada. Own the Podium’s largest contributor of funding is the Government of Canada with additional funding provided by the Canadian Olympic Committee and its Canadian Olympic Foundation, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, along with the corporate community.
A national sport technical initiative, Own the Podium was created in 2005 to help Canada become the number one nation at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and to place in the top-three nations in the gold medal count at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. Canada remains committed to being a world-leading winter sport nation. Own the Podium has set a goal for Canadian athletes to contend for number one in the overall medal count at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, and to be in the top-three nations in the gold medal count at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. Both of these initiatives reflect what Canadians want from Canada’s high-performance athletes and helps advance the “excellence” goal of the Canadian Sport Policy.
For a full summary of Own the Podium initiatives and programs, including a breakdown of support and services by sport, please visit us at www.ownthepodium.org on the Internet.