Alpine Programs

Under 16 Alpine Champs Hosted in Park City

by
USSA
2013-04-08 09:18
 

PARK CITY, Utah (April 8) – A parallel slalom race at Park City Mountain Resort on Friday wrapped up the first-ever Under 16 National Championships for young alpine athletes from across the country. Sky Kelsey of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club captured the boys’ title with Storm Klomhaus of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Academy earning the girls’ crown. Regional Alpine Development Director Dr. Lester Keller, Alpine Director Patrick Riml and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association introduced the project in the form of a camp last spring. It has since evolved into a five-day national collaboration of USSA club program coaches, athletes and program directors, which aimed at assessing strengths and weaknesses of the USA’s best U-16 alpine racers. At the end of the week, coaches and directors were then able to initiate a nationwide plan for athletic improvement. Club coaches and USSA TEAM Academy staff evaluated sixty of the best boys and girls, awarding the athletes points in freeskiing, SkillsQuest education, giant slalom, slalom and parallel. This year was the second year of the assessment project and the first year that it was organized into a U-16 National Championship. 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • A parallel slalom race at Park City Mountain Resort on Friday wrapped up the first-ever Under 16 National Championships for young alpine athletes from across the country.
  • The Championships were a part of a larger nation effort to address possible weaknesses in the athlete development process.
  • Regional Alpine Development Director Dr. Lester Keller, Alpine Director Patrick Rim and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association conceived the idea for the project.
  • The idea has evolved into a five-day national collaboration of USSA club program coaches, athletes and program directors, aimed at assessing strengths and weaknesses of the USA’s best U-16 alpine racers.
  • At the end of the week, coaches and directors were then able to initiate a nationwide plan for athletic improvement.
  • This year was the second year of the assessment project and the first year that it was organized into a U-16 National Championship.
  • Club coaches and USSA TEAM Academy staff evaluated sixty of the best boys and girls, awarding the athletes points in freeskiing, SkillsQuest education, giant slalom, slalom and parallel.
  • The athletes with the highest point totals at the end of the week were crowned the Under 16 National Champions.
  • Sky Kelsey of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club won the most points for the boys while USSA TEAM Academy member Storm Klomhaus won for the girls.
  • Michael Rogan, the PSIA Demo Team Head Coach, headed the freeskiing portion of the assessment, which evaluated the athletes’ all-around technique and basic all-mountain skiing skills.
  • The USSA’s new SkillsQuest program both evaluates and educates young ski racers, their coaches and their families so they can develop the basic skiing skills and support necessary to become world class athletes.
  • Throughout the week, 32 coaches, program directors, as well as U.S. Ski Team coach Sasha Rearick were on hand to help the young athletes hone their skills but also to get a good look at the age group and decide on a better way to train the U-16 athletes for the next year.
  • In addition to on-snow evaluation, the athletes were given medical examinations as well as educational sessions at the Center of Excellence in Park City.
  • Last year’s takeaway lesson was that the athletes were too event focused and they lacked some of the basic technique necessary to make them great all-around skiers. 
  • After this year’s assessment, the project’s directors agreed that technique had increased, but that improving athlete fitness should be the focus of the next year. 

QUOTES           
Dr. Lester Keller – Regional Development Director
Two years ago we had no idea what this age group was like nationally because we didn’t get together nationally with a volume of kids. The primary reason to come here was to judge where we are as a nation by getting a good look at this age group. It’s evolved now. This is the first time we’ve ever had a National Championships for this age group. So it’s pretty exciting in that way.

We have some really good skiers here, but we see some things that we’re deficient as a nation in. These kids are in pretty good physical condition, but not good enough. So we have definitely our message to the nation is that we do a lot more fitness.

We’re working on a total athletic model. We had a thing called the Elite Performance Model, which takes in different dimensions of athletic performance that are specific to alpine skiing like technique, tactics, physical fitness and conditioning, mental skills and mental strength, nutrition, and all of those things that go into it. We’re just trying to ramp up the expectation so that people understand what it takes to be a world-class athlete.

So what I saw here is we’re a little deeper than we were last year. So pretty encouraging progress. We can certainly get better at this. We will get better at this. But the second year in, Patrick and I are pretty pleased with what we’ve got going here.

Patrick Riml – Alpine Director
We started this last year as an assessment project. We bring the best 60, 30 boys and 30 girls. We want to see what’s out there and how these kids are performing. This year is the first U16 National Championship. I think it’s the greatest event to see all these kids performing on different paths, freeskiing, SkillsQuest, and slalom/GS. It’s not a training camp. It’s a competition. So it’s a test. We saw some great skiing. We saw some great freeskiing. We saw a great performance of boys and girls in the races. So I’m really excited about our future and the talent we have in this country.

Our top coaches are here and we tried to express to the country and to all those programs and clubs what the importance is on SkillsQuest and on being a great skier. So hopefully we can help them to know what they need to work on and produce better skiers.

Rebecca Ryan – GMVS Ski Club, Sugarbush, Vermont
There’s really good competition both in the West and the East. All the girls are really good.

The week started off and wasn’t that great. I didn’t have a very good day of GS the first day. I had a good second run but then didn’t really perform in the slalom. But then today I had a good day.

Now I go back and train some more and rest a lot, too. I’m exhausted. This is the end of competition for the season.

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