Thiessen takes over Curling Canada
From the ice to the boardroom, Curling Canada’s new chief executive officer has travelled path unlike any of his predecessors.
Nolan Thiessen, a three-time Brier champion, was named to the association’s top spot after an exhaustive search conducted by an outside agency as well as Curling Canada’s board of governors. He replaces Katherine Henderson, who departed in August to take the position of CEO and president of Hockey Canada.
“I’m truly humbled by this opportunity, and it’s one that I know comes with a great deal of responsibility, but I have a great team around me that is well-positioned to continue taking our sport forward and build on what Katherine did during her time at Curling Canada,” said Thiessen, 43, in a release.
“Our sport has so many avenues forward as we look to reach into new communities and make our sport and championship events even more inclusive and welcoming. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for curling in this country.”
Thiessen has worked for Curling Canada since 2016 and has been a part of the senior management team for the past four years. His most recent role was as executive director, marketing and fan experience.
He will be tasked with overseeing an association that, among other things, is trying to improve Canada’s performance internationally, having slipped from its once-dominant position.
Canadian men have won the world championship just twice in the past decade, while the women have captured two titles since 2009. At the last Olympics, Canadian curlers managed just a bronze medal in men’s play while the women and mixed doubles were shut out.
In addition, Thiessen will lead a team hoping to grow the game at the grassroots level and help curling clubs improve their business models and attract new players.
A native of Pilot Mound, Man., Thiessen won the Brier in 2010, 2014 and 2015. He added a world championship title in 2010.
He retired as a competitive curler following the 2015-16 season and took on duties as an athlete liaison for Curling Canada in 2016 and also served as a consultant. He was formally hired two years later.
Thiessen also has been active internationally, serving on the World Curling Federation’s Athlete Commission for more than five years (and chairing the commission for three of those years), and then moving onto the WCF’s Competition and Rules Commission a year ago.
Away from curling, Thiessen, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba, is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada and holds the CPA and CA designations. He also sits on the board of Sport Tourism Canada
“We said at the beginning of this process that we would leave no stone unturned, and that we would take the time to make sure we do this right, and I firmly we believe we did with Nolan Thiessen,” said Michael Szajewski, chair of Curling Canada’s board of governors, in a release.
“He has played an integral role in helping our organization move forward over the past few years, and his vision is completely in line with the board’s on what needs to happen to continue this forward progress.”
Thiessen assumes the full-time duties as CEO this week, taking over from interim CEO Danny Lamoureux, who will resume his retirement plans that were delayed to help Curling Canada transition after Henderson’s departure.
“Danny has been, and will continue to be, a source of wisdom and we couldn’t be more thankful that he stepped up over the past few months as we embarked on our search,” said Szajewski.