Canada overhauls skeleton staff, appoints Joe Cecchini head coach and technical lead
Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton also adds fellow ex-athletes Kevin Boyer, Micaela Widmer
Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton has named Joe Cecchini, Kevin Boyer and Micaela Widmer as its newest coaches for the national skeleton program.
Cecchini will take on the dual role of head coach and technical lead.
After beginning his skeleton career on Canada's development team from 2006-2012, he went on to compete for Italy at the 2018 Olympics. Cecchini has also worked privately with many of Canada's skeleton athletes over the last two years as a club and international coach at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
"I have a 20-year career in Law Enforcement and planned to continue to advance my policing career after my retirement from athletic competition, but my passion for the sport just took over and led me down this path. I love every day I am working with athletes across all sports at all levels," said Cecchini.
"As a coach and program director, I will stress the importance of being mindful of the long-term goals and implications of all actions. Creating a safe and competitive environment for athletes to flourish as a team, and as individuals, is my number one priority."
Boyer will serve as an assistant technical coach. He represented Canada at the 2018 Olympics and was a member of the national skeleton program for 10 years.
"As a recently retired athlete, it is my goal to share what I've learned and experienced throughout my career to help the younger athletes develop, and our elite level athletes achieve excellence," said Boyer. "I really care so much about all of the Canadian athletes and the success of this program so I hope I can play a small role in this team of highly dedicated coaches to help all of the athletes achieve their dreams."
Widmer is set to be team manager of the program and technical coach to North America's Cup development level athletes. She spent over a decade as a competitive skeleton athlete, competing internationally for both Canada and Switzerland.
Widmer has worked with Cecchini over the last five years as the program lead on all foundational driving schools at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
Last November, Calgary sport physiologist Tara McNeil ran unopposed in becoming president of the embattled sport organization as Sarah Storey did not run for a third term.
Over 70 athletes had been calling for Storey's resignation since March 2022 amid what they've called a toxic environment of maltreatment within the organization.
In an August 2022 letter to then-federal Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge, the athletes said systemic issues have plagued BCS for the eight years since Storey was elected.
"These issues continue to go unacknowledged and unresolved by the organization," they wrote. "In this time, we have seen the increasing deterioration across both sports of day-to-day operations, athlete participation at the national and grassroots level, overall performance and competitiveness on the international stage, and culture within the organization."
The letter included a 24-page collection of issues and lived or observed athlete experiences, which was presented to BCS's board of directors. It included claims such as a fear of retaliation that silences athletes under a leadership style that "feels authoritarian," and the badmouthing of athletes in front of other staff and athletes.
A "top-ranked skeleton athlete was ridiculed in front of other bobsleigh and skeleton athletes constantly," according to the document, and a skeleton staff member allegedly made unprofessional and inappropriate comments to coaches and athletes, including sending texts to athletes with sexual undertones.
- An earlier version of this story stated the letter addressed to then-federal Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge was sent on Friday. In fact, it was sent in August 2022.Sep 12, 2023 10:27 AM ET