USA Bobsled and Skeleton has decided to terminate the contract of 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.
Steele was under contract through the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Now with less than three years remaining until those games, the federation is bracing for potentially a major reset.
“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.