Marcel Lacroix’s energetic approach to coaching, including his windmill gestures and rhythmic barks, made him almost as recognizable as the gold medallists he guided at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. In his third turn as an Olympic coach, Lacroix was on the ice when Christine Nesbitt fulfilled expectations by winning 1000m gold and when the trio of Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux surprised with a gold medal in the team pursuit.
Since starting his Olympic career as a speed skating coach in short track, one of Lacroix’s trademarks has been his innovative mind to give his athletes whatever edge he could on their competition. In advance of Nagano 1998, he developed a new blade to overcome what he saw as a design flaw. That helped Éric Bédard, Derrick Campbell, François Drolet and Marc Gagnon win Canada’s first ever Olympic gold in the 5000m relay.
After moving to long track, he introduced the idea of a customized race strategy for each skater on the ice in the team pursuit. The unheralded group of Arne Dankers, Steven Elm, Denny Morrison, Jason Parker and Justin Warsylewicz came home from Turin 2006 with a silver medal.
Ahead of the home Games at Vancouver 2010, Lacroix identified the need to address ‘performance on demand’. He reached out to leading coaches from Cirque du Soleil. He had the men’s pursuit team work with rowing programs to improve synchronicity and got them to use a technique called ‘the push’ that enabled them to get through three rounds of competition and onto the top step of the podium.
All told, Lacroix has guided speed skaters to six Olympic medals (four gold and two silver) over the course of three Games. In 2004 he was named Speed Skating Canada’s Coach of the Year. In 2011 he was honoured with the Jack Donohue Award by the Coaches of Canada. A graduate of the National Coaching Institute in Calgary, Lacroix is a Level 4 Certified NCCP speed skating coach and is currently the Associate Director of Sport at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.