Organizers of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake announced Saturday the addition of two former Olympians to its sport division staff.
Three time U.S. Olympic speed skater Nick Thometz has been named project manager for speed skating. And Andy Gabel, a four time Olympian and 1994 Olympic silver medalist, will be project manager for short track speed skating. Both begin their new positions in September."Nick and Andy have had the ultimate Olympic journey. They've been to the games as athletes and bring a valuable perspective," said Cathy Priestner Allinger, Salt Lake Organizing Committee director of Ice Sports. "From Sarajevo in 1984 to Nagano in 1998, they've been active participants in the games. Their experience is priceless for our Olympic and Paralympic preparations."
Thometz is currently the program director for U.S. Speedskating, a job he's held since 1994. That was the year he also coached speed skater Bonnie Blair to her sixth medal and to her place in history as the most decorated U.S. winter Olympian. In 1998, Thometz, of Milwaukee, Wis., was the delegation leader for the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Team to Nagano, Japan.
Before becoming a coach and taking administrative jobs within the sport, Thometz was a member of the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Teams of 1984-88 and 1992. He was one of the first Americans to break speed skater Eric Heiden's record at the 500-meter distance and finished fourth in the 1,000 meter and fifth in the 500 meters at the Sarajevo games.
Gabel was a member of the U.S. Olympic Short Track Team in 1988, 1992, 1994 and 1998, enjoying one of the longest careers in the sport. He is the only man to be a member of all four teams. He is also an 11-time World Team member.
The Northbrook, Ill., native was the top U.S. short track performer in Nagano, finishing fourth at the 1,000 meter distance. He was also a member of the silver medal-winning 5,000 meter relay team in Lillehammer, Norway.
The 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake will host 10 speed skating and six short track skating events. Speed skating events ranging in distances from 500 to 10,000 meters are slated for the Oquirrh Park Oval. Short track events will be held at the Delta Center, to be dubbed the Olympic Skating Arena during the Games, in downtown Salt Lake.