Jarle Pedersen, the outgoing coach of the Norwegian speed skating team, lashed out at the Skating Federation (Norges Skøyteforbund) on Wednesday over the very public handling of his removal from the role. The federation’s president apologized on Thursday, admitting it was unprofessional to start discussing Pedersen’s replacement in the media before even speaking with the coach himself.
Pedersen’s contract expires at the end of April, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). While the official decision not to renew it came on Wednesday, the speculation over Pedersen’s replacement started months ago following a poor season and disappointing Sochi Olympics for the national team. Association president Rune Gerhardsen told the media he wanted Dutchman Gerard Kemkers for the role, long before Pedersen’s fate had been settled.
“I experienced the process around who should be the new coach as so amateurish and bad that I lost whatever motivation to continue,” Pedersen told NRK. He was disappointed Gerhardsen publicly set his sights on Kemkers before he was told his contract wouldn’t be renewed.
“I think the organization has such poor people handling that I wouldn’t continue regardless,” he said. “In this game you must expect that you won’t get a new contract, and had they just been honest with me it would have been okay. But not the way this was done.”
Gerhardsen told NRK on Thursday the criticism was fair. “I realize that he has a point,” Gerhardsen admitted. “I have no reason to fight it. I apologize.” The association had already begun talks with Kemkers in March, who has a successful record over many years training Dutch speed skaters including Sven Kramer.
“Kemkers has asked for a little time,” said Gerhardsen. “He has stood beside the track for 20 years and is considering if he will do something different. That’s something we understand.”
Pedersen said he wished the association luck. “I hope they find a good coach as soon as possible, for the athletes’ sake,” he said. “But I don’t think they’ll get Kemkers.”