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Champion Figure Skater John Coughlin Of Kansas City Found Dead After He Was Suspended From Sport

Greg Echlin
KCUR 89.3
John Coughlin at the Silverstein Eye Center Arena in Independence, where he was teaching young figure skaters.

Kansas City pair skater John Coughlin was found dead Friday afternoon in a residence on the 10900 block of Washington Street, according to USA Today, which cited a Facebook post by his sister.

“My wonderful, strong, amazingly compassionate brother John Coughlin took his own life earlier today,” Angela Laune wrote on Facebook. “I have no words.”

Coughlin, 33, won the 2012 United States Figure Skating Championships with partner Caydee Denney and the 2011 championships with partner Caitlin Yankowskas.

Though based in Kansas City, Coughlin frequently traveled around the country as an ambassador for the sport while teaching young skaters the moves on ice.  He was an advocate for sport’s diversity.

“Outside of, not just ethnicity, but also different orientations and different age groups, I think figure skating is probably one of the leaders in the world as far as being inclusive and welcoming everyone,” he said in a 2017 interview with KCUR.

USA Today reported that Coughlin was suspended Thursday by the U.S. Center for SafeSport and U.S. Figure Skating. Earlier this month, the newspaper reported that “his eligibility to participate in his sport was restricted by SafeSport pending final resolution of a matter concerning him that was presented to the center.”

SafeSport is nonprofit group whose mission is to root out abuse in sports.

Coughlin resigned the next day as U.S. brand manager for John Wilson Blades, a major skate blade company, according to USA Today.  

Coughlin told USA Today the allegations against him – which are still unclear at this point – were unfounded.

“While I wish I could speak freely about the unfounded allegations levied against me, the SafeSport rules prevent me from doing so since the case remains pending,” he told the newspaper via email. “I note only that the SafeSport notice of allegation itself stated that an allegation in no way constitutes a finding by SafeSport or that there is any merit to the allegation."

SafeSport and U.S. Figure Skating formally placed Coughlin on interim suspension on Jan. 17. Kansas City police were dispatched the following day to the home on Washington Street where he was found dead.

Greg Echlin, a freelance sports reporter for KCUR, contributed to this story. 

Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
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