Headfirst by Robie Vaughn, with Mike Towle

Q: What skills did you take from your business background that helped organize the American skeleton program?

A: Structuring the program, engaging the most qualified people to become the management and coaching team, communication, logistical organization and teamwork, which includes fairness, objectivity, inclusiveness, and trust!

Q: How difficult was it having two roles in skeleton—one as an athlete and the other as organizer?

A: It was fine until the potential for conflict of interest evolved. The National and Olympic Team selection criteria versus the management and responsibilities of those criteria could have been points of contention. Additionally, I did not wish to “block” younger sliders coming up in the rankings.

Q: How and why did skeleton make it out of its limbo-status and onto the Olympic docket?

A: Many, many years of lobbying the International Olympic Committee by the international governing body for bobsled and skeleton (FIBT), individuals, United States Olympic Committee and United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. Also, the desire to include Women’s Bobsled and the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee’s bribery scandal played ironic rolls in helping skeleton’s inclusion during the process.

Q: Do you feel the sport of skeleton will grow in popularity, as say something like snowboarding, and take hold in popular culture? Also, what is the largest competition for skeleton and is competition televised?

A: The sledding sports will never be as popular as skiing and snowboarding, from a participation standpoint, as there are limited venues on which to train and compete in North America (Calgary, Lake Placid, Park City). However, tremendous growth in participation and awareness continues to increase since the USA success and introduction of skeleton in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Most televised competition may be seen on the Speed Channel in the US and on Eurosport in Europe.

Q: With your current position as Interim Executive Director in the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation do you plan to continue having a role in skeleton?

A: Yes, I currently oversee the coaching/program management, finance, and marketing for skeleton, as well as the bobsled programs.

Q: After the uphill battle to finally have skeleton reinstated into the Olympics, the US snagged 2 golds and a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics—what are the chances for as strong a showing in Torino at the 2006 Winter Olympics?

A: The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation has set a goal of 5 medals—medalling in each discipline—men’s 4-man bobsled, men’s 2-man bobsled, women’s bobsled and men’s and women’s skeleton. These goals are obtainable as all of our teams are ranked within the international elite level of competitiveness.

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