Interview with Scott Rachuk

With the Swedish Nationals quickly approaching we touched base with Scott Rachuk, our new Sports Director. He’s been in Sweden for a little bit more than two months and has been working around the clock to set up the workflow and analyze Swedish Figure Skating to the bone. What are the main challenges ahead? What are the main priorities moving forward?

Scott! You have been here for more than two months now. How was it moving here?
It has been an interesting beginning to my time in Sweden and as an immigrant, there are challenges that you can never be prepared for. You must handle every issue that comes at you and wait for the formal responses from the government agencies. Overall, the transition from Canada to Sweden has been relatively smooth to date and I am enjoying the experience!

And what about your new job, as Sports Director for the Swedish Figure Skating Association. What have the introduction months been like?
They have been very busy, filled with information gathering so we can analyze all aspects of the sport programs that are currently in place in the association. We need to determine the strengths and weaknesses of these programs, combine them with the overarching goals of the association, and begin the foundational work on the strategy and a plan for the future. At the same time, implementing modern sport practices.

Sport in Sweden, what is your view on that?
Sport in Sweden is a very important piece of everyone’s lives. You see it in the passion that people have in the trenches, from the athletes to the coaches to the numerous volunteers in the system. Everyone wants figure skating and all sport to be accessible and fun for all involved. Sweden has a healthy respect for sport and health and wellness is a priority.

We are of course curious about the work ahead. What are the plans?
Sport in Sweden is in a transitional period, and Svenska Konståkningsförbundet is no exception. The association hired me to lead this sport transition and create a sustainable plan that will take us forward in the modern sport world. We need to create this plan correctly the first time and will only accomplish it, by following a strategic building process. If I can use an analogy with you, we are building a house. We can build a house that will look like every other cookie cutter house and be out of date next year, or we can build our house on a strong foundation, that can last for generations and also hold generations of athletes. Bringing them to the very top of their accomplishment, reaching the goals we have set as an association and as individuals. That house takes longer to build and the attention to detail is much greater.

Svenska Konståkningsförbundet wants to build that house. Like that house, the house of their dreams, this plan will only stay standing and relevant if we build it from the bottom up, follow strategic building principles and support it with a solid foundation. We have a piece of land, we need to survey that land, attain architectural drawings and engineering plans before we even begin the physical building process. We are still in the survey and collection phase of this plan. Questions are being raised regarding the impact this final plan will have on certain individuals. There is so much more building left to do, before we even think about how we will be placing the furniture.

In September Strategy 2026 was set for Svenska Konståkningsförbundet. What are your thoughts on that?
We are heading into a new era that is exciting. We have many long-term goals that will be challenging for all of us. Together we can make anything happen, and I’m excited for the challenge that is ahead.

What impact does the strategy have on your job and Swedish Figure Skating?
The strategy sets the tone and the direction for the building and implementation of the planning and the execution of the plan we are working on.

What are your thoughts on change, as it can create concern and worries?
Change is never easy and there is always uncertainty that surrounds change and transition. We will handle this process in a professional and transparent manner and follow solid structural and strategic principles for the entire duration.

Svenska Konståkningsförbundet works closely with RF and SOK. What does the process and timeline look like?
Winter sport will be presenting their plans to RF and SOK between April and June (Q2) of 2019. The plan that we will present is the planning stages of the process as described. The concreate building, the foundation and structures, will begin after the planning has been completed and approved. We have a little over four months to present the house we want to build. In order to do so, we will need everyone to help and support over this time.

You have been travelling across Sweden and have had the opportunity to visit a lot of Swedish clubs?
The club visits have begun, and they are all very interesting and informative. The goal of these visits is to create dialogue with the members and to observe the day to day skating that is happening in the country. The road trip has just begun, and we will see all sizes and locations of clubs throughout the country. We won’t see every club this year, but we will see a nice cross section of clubs to give a strong indication of the landscape of skating in the country. There has been an overwhelming amount of support for this incentive from the clubs we have been to over the last few weeks. It is encouraging from my perspective to see the passion people have for the sport.

Coaches and athletes that are preparing for upcoming seasons, what can they expect?
There will be no impact on the clubs’ day to day operations by this planning process and no drastic or dramatic changes will occur this skating season. We will start to roll out information shortly on all the steering documents regarding the National Teams (both Single and Synchro). What will be expected, in clear writing, for the upcoming season and competitions ahead. This is for everyone to be on the same page, helping coaches and athletes to plan their practice and competitions. Giving us all an opportunity to discuss and evaluate looking at the same page. This is one of many bricks built in the foundation of our mutual house. Based on the analyses of loads of data, that covers all different aspects on our teams and individual skaters over the years, and in collaboration with the appropriate committees, we have set clear goals to work towards.

Soon it’s Nationals in Karlskrona. You will be there, what will you do?
Yes! I will be at Nationals for the entire week and I encourage everyone to go visit the event, watch it and watch it on livestream. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Swedish Figure skating gathered in Karlskrona!

Finally! What are your overall thoughts on the journey ahead?
From my short time in the country, I’m very excited about the journey we are about to embark on. We have undeniable passion for figure skating and we understand the direction we need to head in. To reach our goals, we need to work together and always be athlete centered. This journey we are all on will not be easy in the beginning and it will take time to develop a solid, sustainable plan for the entire organization. The challenge is there for everyone to embrace and I believe we are ready for the challenge.

Plus: Read our interview with Scott Rachuk from September 2018.

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