Derek Parra and KC Boutiette, the two oldest members of the team at 35, are both done as Olympians. Parra will always be remembered for his gold and silver medals at Salt Lake City. Boutiette was the guy who sparked the inline invasion, though he never won a medal in four trips to the Winter Games. Kip Carpenter, a 2002 bronze medalist, also plans to retire.
There were 11 returning Olympians on this year’s 18-person team. The numbers won’t be nearly so high in Vancouver.
Twenty-one-year-old Tucker Fredricks is the program’s best sprint hope, though he managed only a 25th-place showing in his first Winter Games. Charles Ryan Leveille, 22, is an ex-inliner who got valuable Olympic experience; he plans to return in 2010.
“We have the facilities,” FitzRandolph said, referring to indoor ovals in Utah and Milwaukee. “The biggest challenge is getting kids out to the rink. Maybe between what we did in Salt Lake City and what we did here, we’ll see the results of our success 20 years from now.”
But first, Witty said, there need to be changes in the organizational structure of U.S. Speedskating.
She said the traditional two-coach system — one for sprinters, one for all-around — is outdated. She believes skaters should be allowed to compete outside the national program and still receive financial support. Repeating a familiar complaint, she called for an overhaul of the marketing system to bring in more money from sponsors.
“In the next few months, the next year, there have to be some changes — huge changes,” Witty said. “We really need to restructure.”