USSA
 

USSA Fall Quarterly Update

Fall is an exciting, albeit nervous, time of year in skiing and snowboarding. Our season is nearly upon us – actually underway with Mikaela Shiffrin’s win in Soelden. It has been a productive summer for our organization on many fronts and I’m happy to share with you, as a key stakeholder, the progress we’ve made.

As I mentioned earlier this summer in my 100-day report, our emphasis now is on three important areas. We’ve seen progress in each.

  • Ensuring continued focus on our Best in the World vision through development and elite teams.
  • Broadening the scope of participation in our athletic programs so that everyone including athletes, parents, clubs, judges/officials, coaches and volunteers has a role in our Best in the World vision and knows their role as an active participant in its success.
  • Enhancing and modernizing our business operation to better serve our vision.

An area of renewed focus for our organization is our Long Term Strategic Plan, which was adopted by our USSA board in 2010. That plan provided a succinct roadmap to help us structure development and elite sport into the future, and has served us well. In concert with our USSA Chairman Dexter Paine, we’re re-visiting that plan and will make a next-steps presentation to the USSA board at our annual meeting in May.

Elite Teams
Our elite teams had a productive summer training around the globe with innovative camps designed to not only provide new training opportunities for our elite athletes but also to explore how we can utilize training venues for development.

  • Men’s alpine partnered with new resorts including Ohau, New Zealand and Carralco, Chile, in each case developing long term partnerships with the areas that we anticipate will lead to infrastructure investment by the resorts to benefit our training. The objective is not only elite training, but also opportunities for development projects.
  • The new SBX development group was integrated into summer camps at Mt. Hood for the first time. In November, the SBX team will have a unique camp at the Gorgoza tubing hill outside Park City, courtesy of our partners at Powdr, Inc. (John Cumming).
  • This summer, halfpipe skiing teams trained in Mt. Hood while slopestyle skiing went to Whistler – all very productive camps with quality on-snow days and venues.
  • Halfpipe snowboarding held a highly productive September camp in southern California riding skateboarding vert ramps for the first time – a new training element that we want to integrate more in the future.
  • The moguls team, with a new coaching staff, visited Zermatt, Switzerland for a second camp where we pioneered an innovative new video system that has been well received by athletes.
  • The aerials team is winding up its summer training on the ramps in Lake Placid, with renovations underway at the Utah Olympic Park after 22 seasons. An amazing new jumping complex will roll out there next June.
  • Aerials continued to deepen its pipeline with a first-ever Young Guns camp for rising stars held in Lake Placid.

 

2015 World Championships - Vail/Beaver Creek
Preparation for the 2015 FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek has progressed very well over the summer. FIS made a final inspection visit in September with a big thumbs up to organizers. As previously announced, the USSA has played the driving role in bringing live broadcast and streaming of every event for the first time ever. Our athletes helped showcase the Championships with media events this month in Soelden and New York City.

Membership
An overarching goal is to expand our number of stakeholders and members to better support our vision. Each sport has engaged a membership task force to determine the best direction for that sport athletically and to embrace new groups of members by improving membership benefits. We’re evaluating the model of sport entry, number of participants in and outside of the USSA and the impact of clubs in each sport, along with any trending information on the sport. Our membership in each sport should be geared to capturing the broad spectrum of interested athletes, providing benefits to support programs and to remain relevant to changes in that respective sport.

Other highlights this summer include:

  • Addition of Global Rescue Hotline access included with all memberships.
  • Added membership benefits through the creation of USSA Rewards, launching this month.
  • Addition of new membership categories including Club Volunteer and Club Participant. Each of these memberships are designed to provide more incentives for clubs to register new members to take advantage of our enhanced CLIP club insurance program.
  • We’re continuing to monitor feedback on the CLIP program to ensure it benefits more clubs in the future.
  • At this spring’s USSA Congress, we polled participants on various aspects of Congress, most notably its ongoing location. The results of that survey were overwhelming in support of keeping it in Park City.
  • Last month the USSA Board adopted guidelines for best practices for team travel and housing that will provide national team staff and USSA clubs with a better roadmap to ensure proper protocols are followed, especially when traveling with minors.

 

FIS
Fall FIS meetings in Zurich were productive, with a continuing focus on strategic integration of new Olympic events.

  • USSA has continued to lead a discussion of new Olympic events with several being considered by the IOC, including big air.
  • Sweden’s Niklas Karlsson has taken on the chairman’s role in the FIS Alpine World Cup sub-committee. In his first meeting it was clear that he would be open to positive changes in the World Cup to modernize it and make it even more attractive globally.
  • Mike Jaquet took on vice chairmanship of the FIS Advertising Matters Committee with a new direction also anticipated.
  • We continue to have positive discussions with FIS leadership on the challenges with small freestyle Olympic quotas.

 

USOC
The USOC remains a very strong, productive partner and supporter of our organization. In September I participated in the fall USOC National Governing Bodies Council (NGBC) meetings in Chicago. This group provides opportunities for the NGBs to speak as one to the USOC, as well as providing a platform for discussing common best practices and issues, such as technology innovation needs, that we all share. We are also fortunate to have Bill Marolt’s continued leadership remaining on the USOC Board of Directors.

A key USSA initiative moving forward will be the establishment of an independent entity to manage SafeSport in the USA, somewhat similar to the U.S. Anti Doping Agency. This entity will provide molestation and abuse reporting, investigation and adjudication services protecting our participants. USOC President and CEO Scott Blackmun announced the project in June. Under the present proposal, some of its funding will be assumed by NGBs, including the USSA. Keeping our kids safe through athlete, coach and parent education is critical, and this new entity will put a strong, independent agency in place to provide reporting and investigation services to all involved in U.S. Olympic sports.

Governance
Over the past year the USSA has been working towards improving governance based on recommendations from the McKinsey Study that were presented at USSA Congress this past May. The study focused on the relationship between the USSA and its alpine divisions – important to the future governance and organization of the USSA and its regions, divisions and local clubs. This has been a key initiative of my team in Park City and regional leadership nationwide. This structure focuses on the USSA’s role in development at early career stages, sport participant entry, athlete retention and attrition, sanctioned competition outside of the elite pipeline and the general costs of participation.

Good progress has been made thanks to the work of Darryl Landstrom, Bob Dart and our committee. We have nearly concluded the affiliation agreement process with the close collaboration of divisional leadership nationwide. I have enjoyed this process while getting to know our divisions better. I appreciate the huge efforts made by all involved.

Athlete Career and Education
A sound academic and career-planning strategy has a positive impact on athletics. New USSA Vice President, Athlete Career and Education Jory Macomber has made good progress this summer integrating all components of our program under one roof. The mission of USSA Athlete Career and Education and performance lifestyle is to support the whole person to help improve athletic performance, increase longevity in the sport, initiate successful careers and cultivate long-term connections to and support of the USSA.

  • 80% of USSA’s national team athletes have established educational plans.
  • A summit meeting was held at the Center of Excellence in September with executive leadership from Westminster College, including President Brian Levin-Stankevich, to ensure renewal of that valuable program.
  • Last winter, 23 USSA Westminster students were on the Sochi Olympic Team, including five medalists. A dozen athletes and alumni will graduate next spring. Our students are maintaining a 3.56 GPA while continuing their training at the Center of Excellence.
  • The USSA TEAM Academy, in its third season, has 30 student athletes as the USSA works to support a successful high school graduation for young national team athletes. The Academy is also supporting athlete travel/academic work for athletes in their home high schools.
  • A USSA leadership program is being initiated to support the career goals of athletes. 

 

Financial
After stretching our resources for the last three seasons to maximize the available funding for our athletic programs, fiscal year 15 started with a "re-centering" of our budgets to within the typical revenues expected in year one of the quad from our core, recurring revenue streams. This resulted in about a $1.5 million reduction in athletic programs for FY15 as certain one-time revenues will not recur and the $800k savings from floating our interest rate on our bonds is no longer a viable option.

However, since the start of the fiscal year, almost $500,000 of additional spending has been added back to athletics plus $400,000 of business infrastructure. These spending commitments increase the emphasis to meet or exceed the revenue targets in all areas.

The two most significant areas that will enable the organization to reach its $150,000 annual surplus target are the Champions Club (formerly Team PyeongChang) and the Gold Pass program. October and November are always big months for both of these programs. Champions Club provides our donors with an opportunity to continue their annual giving at the Olympic hospitality program level but allows for the donors to select either an Olympic trip to Korea or a trip to the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Our Foundation team is available to work out annual commitments from interested donors and to follow up on Gold Pass donor contacts.

  • This month the USSA announced an enhanced partnership with RallyMe, a pioneering crowdfunding company that specializes in athletes. The USSA has been a big part of RallyMe since its launch. The company drew wide acclaim in national media going into Sochi. We’ve expanded our integration with RallyMe to include opportunities for USSA clubs as well as development and elite athletes. Athletes have been able to use RallyMe to help defray personal travel and training expenses.
  • The USSA has created an innovative new Training Facilities Enhancement Fund this summer to allow for the channeling of donations from third-party sources to meaningful projects that impact USSA athletes regional and nationally. A grant process has been established through this fund to help support these infrastructure projects, with two major projects underway in both New Hampshire and Utah.
  • This spring we began accepting restricted gifts specific to a given sport program. This has allowed us to develop some new programs, especially with cross country and nordic combined. As an example, cross country has started an advisory group led by Washington, DC business leader Liz Arky. This group has energized fundraising and sport outreach programs for cross country.

 

Fundraising
Under Trisha Worthington’s leadership, we’ve made infrastructure changes that have led to strong increases in all of our fundraising programs.

  • We kicked off our gala season with very successful events in Boston, San Francisco, Dallas and Chicago. We are tracking on budget and ahead of last year’s fundraising totals. Up next is the New York Gold Medal Gala this week and Denver next month. In addition to raising funds and awareness for the Team, the galas have been a great opportunity to introduce the Gold Pass program to new audiences, which has lead to five new supporters of the program.
  • We are over a third of the way towards our goal for Champions Club, now offering donor packages to either the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang or 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz.
  • We are nearly sold out of donor packages for the 2015 Vail/Beaver Creek World Championships, a program that allows the donor to experience World’s and support our athletic programs.
  • The Gold Pass Program continues to progress well with 99 gifts left to secure.
  • Our new Executive Excellence program at the Center of Excellence has seen strong performance and is two-thirds of the way towards its season goal. This has been a great way to engage donors by experiencing how our athletes test and train.

 

Sales/Marketing/Events/Communications

  • Partnership renewals have been very strong this fall with 10 of 12 signed up for two to four year renewals. While Putnam, TempurPedic, Delta, Charles Schwab and Paul Mitchell all have committed to four-year contracts, Columbia has decided to be the uniform partner for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team until 2022! Kellogg’s and Chobani also committed to multi-year renewals.
  • In addition to the live broadcast and streaming coverage of every event from the Vail/Beaver Creek World Championships released earlier this summer, the USSA and NBC this month will announce a long term partnership through 2019, highlighted by an increase in coverage by 30% in hours on NBC and NBCSN.
  • The USSA and Ski Racing are in working in partnership to develop a debut U.S. Ski Team mobile app to launch this winter.
  • Progress continues on the 2019 World Championships for freestyle, freeskiing and snowboarding in Park City with formation of a local organizing committee representing each resort and the USSA.
  • In September the FIS conducted its first technical inspection for 2019 World Championships, meeting with each resort but focusing on the technical aspects of the proposed Canyons Ski cross venue. Official feedback was very positive. Final dates were set for Feb. 1-10, 2019, with minimal overlap with Alpine World Championships in Sweden.
  • In September, FIS confirmed Squaw Valley as a stop on the 2015 FIS Freestyle and Snowboard World Cup tour – the only World Cup site that will host both skicross and snowboardcross. It will be the first World Cup at Squaw since 1969 at a site that has a strong legacy for our sports and a very dynamic cross venue.
  • FIS held its first inspection for the 2017 World Cup Finals in Aspen in September, identifying key infrastructure needs for the event. Aspen Skiing Company and the community are working to address these needs to ensure the global success of the event.
  • Under Tom Kelly’s leadership, we have recruited a new press officer team to provide support in each of our sport programs, as well as a new content manager position to help us better develop and market meaningful content to tell our story.

 

Business Management
We’ve begun a variety of steps to modernize our IT and business operations with our addition of Lori Stevenson to oversee this important area.

  • A new CRM (customer relationship management) system has been deployed and we have begun utilizing it in our Foundation. It will roll out in beta to other departments this fall.
  • We have established a technology advisory group comprised of key trustees and business leaders that is advising us on technology issues and opportunities.
  • Plans are well underway for a major facelift to the look and architecture of our company websites this spring. We are presently taking presentations from industry leaders to help us formulate a direction. We are engaging with our member and fan audiences for their requirements for the new website.

 

Closing

What’s been most gratifying this summer is seeing the partnerships we are forming to grow our sports. My visits in the field have been very productive and I’ve truly enjoyed the opportunity to get into the trenches with our clubs, our regions and our divisional and state programs. Thanks to everyone who has provided feedback, driven alignment and helped move the USSA into a position of embracing new opportunities for growth to better help support our athletic success.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Tiger

Tiger Shaw
President and CEO
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association