CanoeKayak Canada is turning to a familiar face for the new position of national sprint team head coach.
Former Olympian and longtime coach Scott Oldershaw was given the assignment Wednesday. He will handle the job for one year as CanoeKayak Canada works on establishing a high-performance system with an eye on the 2016 Games in Rio.
Oldershaw will oversee the program's contingent of coaches in the various disciplines and will continue to serve as personal coach for his son, canoeist Mark Oldershaw, and kayaker Adam van Koeverden.
Mark won bronze at the London Games last summer while van Koeverden won a silver for his fourth career Olympic medal.
"He's incredibly cerebral," van Koeverden said of his coach. "Every one of the words that he provides you with in terms of feedback is super-valuable, because you know it has been extremely well considered. It's never off the cuff."
CanoeKayak Canada director general Lorraine Lafreniere said the plan is to keep the head coaching position on a long-term basis and eventually bring in a new high performance director as well.
"The idea here is to create a head coach position to help unite the team," Lafreniere said. "So that those coaches on the water and off the water in the long days and weeks of training camp have the guidance and support of a head coach to keep the team united."
In addition to his work as a national coach, Oldershaw has coached athletes on developmental and provincial teams. He has also worked extensively with world champion canoeist Mallorie Nicholson.
Oldershaw said he's looking forward to his new role with the team.
"I truly believe we can work together to become one of the strongest canoeing nations in the world in all disciplines," he said.
Oldershaw competed for Canada in the 1984 Olympic Games. He's one of five Olympians in the Oldershaw family.
"Scott has been around the sport longer than anybody," van Koeverden said in a phone interview. "He keeps his eyes and ears open to changes and things going on better than anybody else.
"He's one of these old-school guys who totally accepts the new school constantly."
The next major step for CanoeKayak Canada as it refines the sprint system is to hire a high performance director. The vacancy was created when Barney Wainwright was let go last February.
Lafreniere said the call for applicants has gone out, but the program doesn't want to rush a hiring decision.
"That's a very significant leadership role for the organization," she said. "So the timeline is to get it right. So within the next year."