Susan Margaret Auch, speed skater, executive, realtor, advocate, politician (born 1 March 1966 in Winnipeg, MB). Four-time Olympian Susan Auch won two silver medals in speed skating at the Olympic Winter Games. She also won three gold medals and four silver medals at the 1995 Long Track Speed Skating World Cup, which earned her the 1995 Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s female athlete of the year. Auch joined the board of Speed Skating Canada in 2008. She became president in 2016 and CEO in 2017. She also made an unsuccessful run for provincial office in Manitoba in 2011. She has been inducted into the Speed Skating Canada Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Susan Auch was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She became involved in sports as a child to help build the strength she needed to overcome the effects of asthma. She took up speed skating at age nine at the 440 m Sargent Park speed skating oval in Winnipeg. (It has since been renamed the Susan Auch Speed Skating Oval in her honour.) Auch graduated in 1993 from the University of Calgary, where she studied communications.
Short Track Career
Auch started speed skating competitively in 1975, taking part in local and national competitions. She first found success in short-track speed skating. At the 1983 Canada Winter Games in Saguenay and Lac Saint-Jean, Quebec, she won gold in the 400 m and in the 800 m and silver in the 3,000 m relay. Auch came second overall at the 1984 World University Games; won a silver medal at the 1984 World Short Track Championships; came first overall at the 1985 Canadian Sprint Championships; and won a gold medal in the 3,000 m relay at the 1986 World Short Track Championships.
Auch represented Canada for the first time at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games. She and her team won bronze in the 3,000 m relay. However, short-track speed skating was only a demonstration sport at the time, so the medal and her participation at the Games are not considered official. Also in 1988, Auch won gold with her team in the 3,000 m relay for the second year in a row at the World Short-Track Championships.
Long Track Career
Later in 1988, Auch decided to transition to long-track speed skating. She went on to finish first overall in the Canadian Sprint Championships every year from 1990 to 1995. At the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France — Auch’s first official Olympics — she placed sixth in the 500 m. She came third in the 1993 World Cup standings for the 500 m while winning a silver and bronze medal in 500 m events in Switzerland and South Korea. She repeated in 1994 and came third again in the World Cup Standings. She also placed second in the 500 m at World Sprint Championships that same year. Auch also became the first Canadian and one of only three women to beat the 39-second barrier in pre-clap skates over 500 m.
Auch won her first Olympic silver medal in the 500 m at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, with a time of 39.61 seconds. She also finished eighth in the 1,000 m event. Auch finished in second place in the 500 m at the World Sprint Championship two more times (1995, 1998). She went on to win three gold medals and four silver medals at the 1995 Long Track Speed Skating World Cup in Milwaukee. She received the 1995 Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s female athlete of the year.
At the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, Auch competed while still recovering from knee surgery earlier in the year. She won silver in the 500 m, finishing with a time of 38.42 — 0.03 seconds behind the gold medal winner, Auch’s teammate and training partner Catriona Le May Doan. (Le May Doan and Auch were both coached by Auch’s brother, Derrick.)
Auch retired in 1998 but made a comeback in 2000. At her final Winter Olympics, at Salt Lake City in 2002, she competed in the 500 m and 1,000 m but did not medal, finishing 21st and 27th, respectively.
Retirement and Politics
After retiring from speed skating, Auch became a motivational speaker and helped promote awareness of the effects of allergies and asthma. She has also enjoyed a successful career in real estate. She has remained involved with the Olympic Youth Academy and AthletesCAN in working to ensure a fair, responsive and supportive system for athletes. She joined the board of Speed Skating Canada as a director in 2008. She was named president in 2016 and CEO in 2017. She also entered politics in 2011. She ran as the Progressive Conservative candidate in the riding of Assiniboia in the Manitoba provincial election that October but lost to incumbent Jim Rondeau of the NDP.