Émigré Finds Success As Team Manager


Lenny Kasten’s sport is logistics.

A soccer coach in his native Ukraine, Kasten has traveled the world as an American. He took up his new career as general manager of the U.S. National Bobsled and Skeleton Team by accident.

Having come to the U.S. in 1980 from the former Soviet Union, alone, at 26 — “Why do all Jews leave? For freedom!” he told The Jewish Week — he was working at a sport club in New York City when a roommate got him a job as a manager for USA Luge. Then he moved up to his current position.

His life, says Kasten, 59, who was born in Lvov and now lives in Fairlawn, N.J., is “an American dream.”

The Sochi Games will be the fourth Olympics for Kasten (earlier venues were Salt Lake City, Torino and Vancouver), who has added marketing/sponsorship to his portfolio and accompanied his athletes on their international competitions. Along the way he met President George W. Bush, during a social session with American Olympians.

As manager, he’s responsible for the athletes’ logistics.

During one European trip, he arranged for visits to the sites of the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps. It’s his way of introducing the young men under his care to the wider world, Kasten says. “I educate my guys.”