Canada’s jumping chef d’équipe resigns over contract issues

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Mark Laskin has resigned as chef d’équipe of the Canadian Show Jumping Team.
Mark Laskin has resigned as chef d’équipe of the Canadian Show Jumping Team. Photo by Starting Gate Communications

(Updated 0315 GMT)

Equestrian Canada has lost its long-time showjumping chef d’équipe with the resignation of Mark Laskin from his position as Technical Advisor for Jumping.

Laskin has cited contract issues and interference from Equestrian Canada’s (EC) leadership group as the reasons for his resignation, which is effective immediately.

Laskin of Langley, BC, has held the role of Canadian Show Jumping Team chef d’équipe since the fall of 2012 when he succeeded Terrance “Torchy” Millar. Laskin said he had been working without a current contract despite continuing to fulfill his duties at numerous events including the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, in August and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final held in Barcelona, Spain, in October.

“I was told during the first week of April that a contract would be forthcoming,” said Laskin. “Seven months later, the contract promised to me still hasn’t been delivered.”

However, EC says that Laskin’s contract was in extension, while the position of Jumping Technical Advisor was under review. Input was being sought from stakeholders including jumping discipline experts, high-performance committee members, National Team athletes, owners, and Laskin.

EC said it was identified in early 2020 that there was a need to review the technical advisor roles. “In keeping with best practices of the quadrennial cycle, EC enacted a positional review process to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics. Technical Advisor Mark Laskin’s contract was in extension, and he agreed to remain in the role during the process and his input and expertise were sought.

“Mr Laskin resigned from his position prior to the publication of the leadership review post-Tokyo, the completion of the job description, and the move into the hiring process. We wish him all the best in his future pursuits,” EC said in a statement.

Laskin said that when he was hired, the Jump Canada Board ran the discipline and EC handled the administration. “At that time, ‘Torchy’ Millar was the chef d’équipe and I understudied with him for two years as assistant chef d’équipe. We worked so well together that Torchy stayed on for an additional two years before I moved into his role full-time in 2012. That was a successful succession plan, developed and managed by Jump Canada.”

Mark Laskin, at centre, with the victorious Canadian Show Jumping Team at the 2018 Longines Nations’ Cup in Ocala, Florida. He is flanked by riders, from left, François Lamontagne, Eric Lamaze, Ian Millar, and Tiffany Foster.
Mark Laskin, at centre, with the victorious Canadian Show Jumping Team at the 2018 Longines Nations’ Cup in Ocala, Florida. He is flanked by riders, from left, François Lamontagne, Eric Lamaze, Ian Millar, and Tiffany Foster. Photo by Starting Gate Communications

Laskin also cites interference from Equestrian Canada’s leadership group as another reason for his resignation, including recently being pressured as to which athletes are selected for Nations’ Cup team competitions.

“The leaders at our national federation need to have understanding and experience with our sport,” Laskin said.

“Unfortunately, Equestrian Canada has had many people in leadership positions that have no background in the equestrian field. That depth of understanding is integral to any future success of the organization. Equestrian Canada’s leadership group is making decisions that aren’t congruent with my philosophy. It is my opinion that the high-performance program has been adversely affected and will continue to be in the future with the current leadership group at the helm.

“Consequently, I felt that I had no choice but to step down.

“I feel very sad to be resigning. The management of an international team is a complex task that requires the full support and understanding of the National Sport Organization, and that has not always been the case recently.”

Laskin’s decision was supported by EC’s Jumping High-Performance Committee. As High-Performance Advisor, Laskin acted as Chair of the volunteer committee comprised of Gail Greenough, Mike Lawrence, Beth Underhill, and Marni von Schalburg.

Lawrence said the committee shared Laskin’s frustration at “the lack of communication and consultation with our committee”.

“The High-Performance Committee – Jumping is 100% unanimous in its support of Mark’s decision and the rationale behind his resignation. As the people who are ultimately responsible for guiding show jumping at the highest levels, we need to have a say in the high-performance program and the process that is followed.”

Laskin, 64, got his start riding in Edmonton, Alberta, and went on to enjoy a successful career as an international grand prix competitor and coach. In 1980, he produced double clear rounds riding Damuraz to lead Canada to the team gold medal at the Alternate Olympics in Rotterdam, and again represented Canada in the 1982 World Championships in Dublin. In 2007, Laskin was inducted into the Jump Canada Hall of Fame as a member of the 1980 Alternate Olympics gold medal team alongside Jim Elder, Ian Millar, and Michel Vaillancourt.

“I’ve been so proud and honoured to have held this position with the Canadian Show Jumping Team for over 10 years,” Laskin said.

“I am Canadian through and through and have taken great pride in Canada’s success on the world stage. I want to thank everyone who has shown their support over the years, especially the riders with whom I’ve developed strong friendships and shared so many incredible memories and successes. I’ll miss them the most.”

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One thought on “Canada’s jumping chef d’équipe resigns over contract issues

  • November 11, 2021 at 6:50 am
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    Mark Laskin’s astute words say it all: “Unfortunately, Equestrian Canada has had many people in leadership positions that have no background in the equestrian field. That depth of understanding is integral to any future success of the organisation.” It is unthinkable to have individuals @ EC who have never ‘held the reins’ on a horse. This indicates a major disconnect in the effectiveness of the Association. Mark Laskin’s experience and achievements in the show arena are well documented and well-earned. A quick review of http://www.equestian.ca reveals in excess of 30 staff members, being Managers, Directors, Co-ordinators, etc. Too many chefs, d’equipe or otherwise, makes it a very crowded venue in Ottawa.

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