U.S. Ski and Snowboard opens investigation after indigenous Olympian accuses coach of abuse and athlete of racism

U.S. Ski and Snowboard have opened an investigation into allegations of abuse and racism within the United States Snowboard Team after a series of Instagram posts made by 2010 Olympian Callan Chythlook-Sifsof.

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Mar 15, 2021; Aspen, Colorado, USA; A US Ski & Snowboard flag files during the Freeski Big Air qualifying at the Aspen the 2021 FIS Aspen Snowboard & Freeski World Championships.. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 15, 2021; Aspen, Colorado, USA; A US Ski & Snowboard flag files during the Freeski Big Air qualifying at the Aspen the 2021 FIS Aspen Snowboard & Freeski World Championships.. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

U.S Ski and Snowboard confirmed an open investigation into allegations of abuse and racism made by a former Olympian. The investigation was opened in response to a string of social media posts by Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, a snowboarder who competed at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Chythlook-Sifsof took to Instagram earlier this week, stating, “I cannot watch another Olympic Games without saying this publicly…” She then went on to detail allegations of sexual abuse against U.S. Snowboard Head Coach Peter Foley, and allegations of racism and harassment against snowboarder Hagen Kearney, who is currently competing for the United States in Beijing.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard spokesman Tom Horrocks told USA Today, “we take these [allegations] very serious and these are being investigated.”

Chythlook-Sifsof alleged that Foley “has taken naked photos of female athletes for over a decade,” and that he made a sexually explicit remark to her and another female teammate around the time when she first joined the national team as a minor. She added, “there are more serious actions that are not my story but should come to light…”

In response to the allegations Peter Foley stated, “I’m super surprised by the allegations and I vehemently deny the allegations.”

2022 Beijing Olympics - Snowboard - Men's Snowboard Cross 1/8 Finals - Genting Snow Park, Zhangjiakou, China - February 10, 2022. Hagen Kearney of the United States reacts after failing to qualify for the quarterfinals. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
2022 Beijing Olympics - Snowboard - Men's Snowboard Cross 1/8 Finals - Genting Snow Park, Zhangjiakou, China - February 10, 2022. Hagen Kearney of the United States reacts after failing to qualify for the quarterfinals. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Meanwhile, allegations of racism and harassment, with Chythlook-Sifsof detailing a specific episode during the last World Cup event of the 2014 season in Canada, were levied against 2022 Olympian Hagen Kearney.

Tom Horrocks told USA Today, “the concerns regarding Hagen were dealt with at the time and appropriate action was taken.” In a separate response to USA Today, Kearney stated, “I made a mistake years ago with my words and appropriate action was taken. I learned from my mistake and I’m a better person now for it.”

In one of her more recent posts, Chythlook-Sifsof added, “I will not carry this stuff around anymore, there was bizarre behavior across the board. The people I’ve named have overtly behaved toxically but the truth is the culture on the team protected this behavior.”

“Things have been normalized that are not okay. Other athletes have in engaged in racist, misogynist behavior, actively participated in the strange dynamics that Peter Foley created and caused females athletes/staff to be victims of sexual violence.”

Outsports also reports the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has notified Chythlook-Sifsof that her allegations have been reported to the United States Center for SafeSport.

Chythlook-Sifsof raced with the U.S. Snowboard Team from 2005 to 2014. She competed at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, becoming the first indigenous Alaskan women to compete for the United States in snowboarding. Her career highlights include an X-Games silver medal, and a pair of podium finishes on the World Cup tour.

No outline or timeframe of the investigation into the claims made by Chythlook-Sifsof has been given by U.S. Ski and Snowboard. It also remains unclear if Peter Foley will continue as head coach of the snowboarding team for the time being.

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