Five-time Olympian put in charge

Updated: April 27, 2010, 4:44 PM ET
Associated Press

Mark Grimmette's retirement from luge lasted about a month.

Grimmette has taken over as the sports program director for USA Luge, giving the five-time Olympian the job of overseeing all aspects of the national team and building for the 2014 Sochi Games.

His hiring was announced Tuesday, three days after the federation's board unanimously approved the move.

Grimmette hoped for a job with the national team, but didn't expect to be immediately put in charge. He will assume many of the duties held by Wolfgang Schadler, who spent 24 years with USA Luge.

"It's a big leap. A very big leap," Grimmette said in a telephone interview Tuesday from USA Luge headquarters in Lake Placid, N.Y. "My view is to take it as I did when I was an athlete, one step at a time. There's a lot to do, and so I'm just tasking myself with different things."

Grimmette won 65 international medals with longtime doubles teammate Brian Martin, including a silver at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and bronze at the 1998 Nagano Games. They also won six bronze medals together at the world championships.

They finished 13th at the Vancouver Olympics and raced presumably for the final time as a duo last month at USA Luge's national championship.

USA Luge CEO Ron Rossi said Grimmette's hiring is part of a Sochi 2014 strategic plan.

The aim is to improve "the skills and performance of all the current pipeline athletes, culminating in the winning of medals in all disciplines at every level, including the Olympic Games," Rossi said in a memo announcing the hiring.

Schadler's job was multifaceted, from coaching to sled-building. He was close to several sliders, including three-time Olympian Tony Benshoof.

"Obviously, I'm very happy for Mark," Benshoof said. "He'll be good at it.

"My initial reaction was complete shock. I'm really, really bummed out and upset that Wolfi's no longer with the team. I personally think he's one of the three best coaches in the world. Mark's got some pretty serious shoes to fill."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press