letter to the editor390

The dark side of mushing Re the strange case of the blacklisted musher (The News, January 20): First, let me say that I do not know nor do I have…

The dark side of mushing

Re the strange case of the blacklisted musher (The News, January 20):

First, let me say that I do not know nor do I have any dealings with any of the parties involved in this scenario.

I am, however, a fan of mushing having moved to the Yukon in 2004 and taken in my first Quest.

I am also a fan of fair competition and a believer in supporting the athletes of the sport you enjoy.

Is it possible that the case of the  “blacklisted musher” is merely the rearing of the ugly head of politics in sport yet again. Why is it that there do not seem to be any direct answers to the many questions raised in this scenario?

 Why was Michael Salvisberg not allowed to join the Yukon Junior Association of Mushers?

Is there, or are there specific criteria to join the association, which he does not meet?

Can anyone join?

If anyone can join why was he not allowed?

Even if he was not able to be or chosen to be a coach, why can he not be a member of the association?

Why is the association not transparent with its decision? What is the real reason the membership was denied. I would like to know.

Can someone at the association, Sean Fitzgerald, or Sports Yukon give me an answer other than “ no comment.”

Salvisberg claims that there is a form of personal conflict, which exists between the parties involved.

Does that disqualify him from being a member of the association?

I have been involved with many associations in my day and there is always some form of conflict within organizations, but as adults and supporters of the cause people work these things out.

I find it interesting that while three of the four mushers have their parents to coach and support them, Michael Salvisberg’s son, Dylan, will not.

This is absolutely ridiculous.

I can understand that perhaps there may be tension between Michael and the association for whatever reason, but why should Dylan suffer for it?

 Shouldn’t all parties be putting their differences aside and support the most important individual in all this, that being Dylan?

Aren’t all the participants worthy of obtaining the most support they can get?

Shouldn’t the support be for Team Yukon? I believe so.

In short, this situation should not be making the news in this manner.

So how about it people, let’s get it all out into the open, let’s purge all that darkness from the depths, and resolve the issue and get on with the competition, like we should be, and support our athletes.

I would much rather hear about the team and how the athletes are preparing and what they are expecting from the competition.

The politics I can get from the nightly news.

Lance A. Bevilacqua

Via e-mail

Mushing association responds

Re the strange case of the blacklisted musher:

I will refer directly to the article point by point detailing my concerns and bringing pertinent facts which I believe have not been given due consideration, or not brought to the news writer’s attention, to light.

1) “Instead, he has been mysteriously blacklisted by the Yukon Junior Association of Mushers.”

The president of Yukon Junior Association of Mushers sent Michael Salvisberg a letter detailing the reasons  he has been denied membership.

In this letter, he was advised that he may re-apply in one year from January 2006 and, providing he meets the conditions set out in the letter, his membership would be reconsidered.

His son’s membership is not affected by the ban on his father being a member for this period.

Furthermore, Salvisberg was forewarned that there were concerns relating to him, given suggestions on how they could be mitigated and warned that if he did not take action on the suggestions, it would have consequences in regard to future dealings with YJAM.

He did not respond to these concerns as far as I know.

I am not at liberty to disclose the contents of the letter to the public as it could constitute a breach of confidentiality and therefore would be wrong ethically.

(Furthermore, I do not consider it an appropriate lesson for me to be teaching the youth that we work with that “mudslinging in the media,” is an appropriate way to deal with disagreements.)

Salvisberg is at full liberty to disclose the contents of the letter, and we would be happy to verify that it is the correct version.

E-mail copies of the letters that were sent to Salvisberg are on file, to verify that what I have said above is true, but, again, am not at liberty to divulge them unless Salvisberg gives us written permission to do so.

2) “‘In a nutshell, it is a form of personal conflict between myself and members of the association’s executive’, said Michael.”

It is not a form of “personal conflict” as Salvisberg states, but rather an issue that he was told was of concern to the organization and given appropriate steps to take to correct it.

3) “His son Ben Kinvig will be competing against Dylan in the juvenile category at the Games.”

I think it is important to note that Ben and Dylan will also be competing in a “team event” and their combined time will determine their placing.

It is important that this is understood by the reader as it lends credence to what I said about us putting forth the best possible team to represent the Yukon, period.

4) “’How is a child supposed to accept the authority of someone who is slandering his father?’ said Michael.”

I think it would be very informative if Salvisberg could explain what he means by this statement.

5) “The father and son had difficulty with the association right from the start, and were forced to ferret out information about the races.

“It was hard to find out about the qualifying races, said Michael.

“’We weren’t notified in a timely fashion — we weren’t given details until one week before the race.’”

Salvisberg was given the information in the same time frame as everyone else was.

The reason that “details” were not available to Salvisberg until one week before the race was because it was uncertain, due to weather and snow conditions this year, if we would be able to run the races on that weekend at all.

Those who expressed an interest in competing were all given the same information in the exact same time frame.

(I also have e-mails to back this statement up.)

Also, Salvisberg had chosen not to keep his membership current in the last year, so might not have been as well informed as he could have been in general, had he chosen to do so.

However, having said that, there is another family that had not kept their membership current, and they were treated in the same manner and did not seem to think they were treated unfairly, to my knowledge.

The trial dates were also posted on Sport Yukon’s, website well in advance of the weekend.

In closing, I would like to say that as a member of the executive of YJAM, my first and foremost concern is for the youth we coach and work with.

The decision to disallow Michael Salvisberg membership in YJAM for the period of one year was not one we took lightly or for frivolous reasons.

I am not pleased with having to participate in such decision-making processes, but feel strongly that it was a responsible and well thought out decision that we had no choice but to make.

Sean FitzGerald, Yukon Junior Association of Mushers, Haines Junction