AP Interview: Aron McGuire hired as US bobsled-skeleton CEO
Aron McGuire knows how to push a bobsled and knows his way around Olympic boardrooms. USA Bobsled and Skeleton is hoping that makes him the perfect fit to run their organization.
McGuire was announced Thursday as USABS’ new CEO, a job that he’ll formally assume in February. He was a bobsledder from 2003 until 2006, spending most of that time as a brakeman for U.S. bobsled legend Steven Holcomb, then began his post-athlete life working for USA Track & Field before joining the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee in 2013.
And now he’s gone full circle, returning to his bobsled roots — tasked with leading a federation that has won 15 medals at the last five Olympics. But it came home with only one from the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
“I was a slider and as an athlete there’s really no greater honor than representing your country internationally,” McGuire said in an interview with The Associated Press. “When I got a chance to wear a uniform that was red, white and blue and represent the United States, that really changed my life, changed who I am ... and this is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up on.”
McGuire’s selection was unanimously ratified by the USABS board of directors. He will take over for interim CEO John Rosen, who has been filling the post — and refusing to accept a salary — since USABS fired Darrin Steele in August, citing a desire for “a fresh perspective” going into the 2022 Olympics and beyond.
The interview process began in September and in the end the board went with McGuire, whose job with the USOPC had him serving as senior director of the Olympic & Paralympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Lake Placid, New York. USABS is based in Lake Placid, and McGuire will continue living in Colorado Springs.
“Aron is an outstanding individual whose background in our sport and achievements at the USOPC make him the right person to lead our organization to success,” said Bob Bergbauer, chairman of the USABS board of directors.
McGuire will come in midway through the four-year cycle between Olympics, with the 2022 Beijing Games fast approaching. Among his top early priorities: finding ways to generate more revenue, maximizing relationships with current sponsors, adding more sponsors and ensuring that programs already in place for athletes have some real correlation to success on the track.
He said he likes how the teams are currently trending, with bobsledder Kaillie Humphries leading the World Cup standings. There's also the breakthrough first World Cup medals for skeleton athlete Megan Henry and bobsledder Hunter Church earlier this month, and the expected return next season of three-time Olympic bobsled medalist Elana Meyers Taylor.
“I’ll say that the coaching staff and the support staff on the road supporting our athletes and in the United States is top-notch,” McGuire said. “It ultimately comes down to the people. I’m fortunate to be stepping into a role where there are great people already in place.”
The 44-year-old McGuire was associate director of international teams for USA Track & Field from 2006-2013 and was part of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics with that federation. With the USOPC, he oversaw operations, venues, and food and nutrition services for training centers and became senior director in 2017.
As part of bobsled’s national team, McGuire spent plenty of time rooming with Holcomb — the best driver in U.S. history, a winner of a four-man gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games and a pair of silvers at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Holcomb died in 2017 and the USABS program has been feeling the effects.
McGuire believes being a bobsledder, combined with his track and business background — he was a college decathlete at Akron and got an MBA from Indiana — gives him a diverse enough background to handle being CEO.
“Part of what I want to bring to a table is an ability to partner with the USOPC and continue to find creative ways to help support our athletes,” McGuire said. “I feel confident that I’m in a unique position to put our athletes and our federation in the best position to be successful.”