USSA
 

Summer Quarterly Update

The summer season is always a very important time for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA). It gives us a chance to look back on the successes and challenges of the past season and determine how our organization can be better.

The key element I want to focus on going forward is alignment. We discussed this concept at USSA Congress, our annual meeting, in May. Alignment isn’t possible without everyone believing that we are reaching towards a common goal with the same sense of purpose. When we are all aligned and pulling the rope in the same direction, we are a stronger organization.

During Congress, I also talked about engagement and community outreach. We spent this past year meeting with key sport stakeholders, industry leaders and sport task forces to gain insight into how the USSA could better serve its members as well as broaden the reach of our sports. One result of these conversations is our new membership structure, which offers a broader complement of categories and makes our sports more affordable.

We’ve seen great progress in expanding the impact and visibility of our sports over the past season, both at the national and international level. This progress continues with the addition of big air snowboarding and an alpine team event to the program at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Looking ahead to 2022, representatives from Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan, will give their final presentations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will select a host city on July 31st. Whether we land in Beijing or Almaty, the USSA welcomes the opportunity to continue growing global awareness of our winter sports through the Olympic movement.

As we continue to make changes, the USSA is committed to listening and engaging with our community. I invite you to join in with discussion and feedback. The power of all of us in alignment is what will move our organization and our sports forward.

Have a great summer.

Tiger

GENERAL

New Membership Structure
With over 30,000 members nationwide, the USSA represents a wide range of followers passionate about skiing and snowboarding. With the new membership structure, it is the USSA’s goal to not only broaden participation and engagement within our sports but also to better encompass people involved at every level of skiing and snowboarding.

The structure, which was built on a unique basis for each sport, was designed with input from key sport and industry stakeholders this past year as result of sport-specific task forces that provided feedback on how the USSA could better serve its members and grow its sports. In addition to expanding the membership base, the new structure also adjusts categories to fit athlete age classes, allows for multi-sport memberships at no additional cost and offers short-term memberships for athletes to experience competing in USSA-sanctioned events. Membership pricing has also changed, with general and entry-level memberships starting as low as $15. Families with multiple athletes will benefit from the family cap of $400.

Descriptions and prices of the new membership categories are available at my.ussa.org.

2018 Olympic Events
Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved big air snowboarding and an alpine team event as new inclusions for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.

The addition of these new events not only presents seven new medal opportunities for U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding athletes at the Olympics but also brings events to the World Cup and U.S. Grand Prix circuit. Four big air events and two alpine team events are on the FIS World Cup schedule for the 2015-16 season. The new events are exciting for spectators and unique opportunities from a broadcast standpoint, reflecting the IOC’s plan to build on the success of past Olympics and appeal to a more youth-oriented audience.

USSA TEAM Academy Graduates 12
The USSA’s TEAM Academy celebrated its largest graduating class in May, with 12 athletes completing their high school education. College acceptances for the graduates include Westminster College, University of Vermont, University of Colorado, Denver University and Brown University. TEAM Academy is just one of the many educational resources available to members of our national and development teams as well as our national training groups.

National Team Athletes Benefit from Westminster Renewal
The USSA renewed its partnership with Salt Lake City’s Westminster College this spring. The new four-year agreement will help support athlete education leading into the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang and the 2019 FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships in Park City, UT. This season, 22 Westminster athletes competed in FIS World Championships and the X Games, bringing home a total of eight medals. This spring, seven athletes completed their degrees – the largest graduating class the USSA/Westminster College program has seen since its inception in 2005.

Spence Eccles Olympic Freestyle Pool
After nine months of construction, the renovated water ramps at the Utah Olympic Park opened this month. Donors from around the country have contributed to Utah’s Olympic legacy by supporting Project Big Air. Together with the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation and U.S. Ski Team alum Spence Eccles, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation has been able to raise nearly all the funds needed for project completion. Donors who give $1,000 or more will be recognized on a permanent donor wall at the jump site.

With the ramps completed, U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, U.S. Freeskiing and U.S. Snowboarding athletes will have seven brand new, sport-specific ramps available to them for summer training. Project Big Air deepens Utah’s commitment to Olympic winter sports, and showcases the region’s unique and collaborative efforts to utilize its active Olympic venues.

Club Development and Sport Education
Club Development Manager Brian Krill has been promoted to Director of Sport Education. He has done a remarkable job of building and implementing the USSA Club Development Program, and has a strong vision for USSA Sport Education moving forward, building upon the momentum of both club and coach development. Krill intends to further integrate the development, education, certification and recognition of clubs and coaches, while continuing to stay directly involved with the club development program in particular.

Krill will be looking to hire a coach development manager who will focus on the continued development of educational resources, events, certification and recognition for all USSA coaches in all sports.

USSA Certifies 16 More Clubs
16 additional clubs engaged in the USSA’s podium certification process this season as part of the USSA’s new Club Certification Program. The clubs were recognized at the annual USSA Club Excellence Conference in Park City. The podium level certification process involves a rigorous self-study and peer review of best principles and practices for ski and snowboard clubs. All Silver and Gold club candidates had an on-site visit and review conducted by USSA High Performance staff and club consultants who are leaders in the ski and snowboard club world.

Rookie Camp 2015
New members of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Freeskiing and U.S. Snowboarding visited the USSA Center of Excellence in Park City this month for the teams’ annual Rookie Camp.

Rookie Camp began in 2007 as a means of educating new national team athletes about the opportunities they had through the USSA as well as their responsibilities as role models and representatives of the team. This year’s group of 35 athletes participated in classroom sessions focusing on topics such as fundraising and career education, tackled the ropes course at the National Ability Center and completed an avalanche awareness session. Ranging in age from 14 to 34 years old, this year’s rookies have already racked up an impressive roster of results, including six Junior Worlds medals, one World Championship medal and a U.S. national title.

Olympic champion Hannah Kearney closed out the three-day program, addressing the athletes and encouraging them to take advantage of the myriad resources offered to them by the USSA.

Athletes Build Houses
U.S. Freeskiing and U.S. Snowboard athletes took a break from training and traveled to Tijuana, Mexico this month to do some good. The trip, led by Hope Sports and More Than Sports, brought 19 athletes together to build a house for a needy family, converting them from competitors to teammates. Guest speakers addressed the group throughout the weekend—many of them with Olympic ties—in order to help the athletes see the importance of using their platform and visibility to give back to both their local and global community.

2015-16 U.S. World Cup Schedule
The FIS World Cup tour will make six stops in the U.S. this season, with events in alpine, freeskiing and freestyle. A host of additional freeskiing and snowboarding World Cups will be announced as a part of the U.S. Grand Prix tour this summer. The FIS alpine and freestyle World Cup circuits are the highest level in the sport worldwide, attracting global interest at each tour stop.

Upcoming International Events in the USA
After a successful 2015 FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek, CO, the USSA is working with event and resort partners to prepare for two upcoming elite-level international events: the 2017 Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals in Aspen, CO and the 2019 FIS Freestyle, Freeskiing and Snowboard World Championships in Park City. Event staff and committees continue to provide updates to the FIS on the progress of preparation for the events, including test events, infrastructure and broadcast plans.

2015 USSA Partner Summit
Each summer, the USSA’s sponsors, licensees, suppliers and media partners come to Park City for two days of networking, presentations and an overall celebration of all the benefits of partnering with the USSA. USSA Partner Summit, which takes place July 22-24, has recently been paired up with the summer Board of Trustees meeting, which provides a great opportunity for donors to participate in the discussions.

2015 Snow Ball Schedule
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation hosts a variety of formal and on-snow fundraising events across the country that raise over $1.7 million for teams annually. These featured events provide the perfect opportunity to meet the athletes and hear their stories firsthand. Special events account for a significant portion of the teams’ annual fund and are supported and chaired by USSA trustees, private donors, individuals and businesses. The 2015 special events schedule is available at foundation.ussa.org.

Discover the Gold Pass
U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freesking athletes are already training hard for the 2015-16 season and you can help support the team through the Gold Pass program. The Gold Pass acts as a sustainable source of funding for USSA’s athletes and programs, and represents the ultimate lift ticket with access to over 250 resorts across the country. Reserve your Gold Pass today.

SPORT UPDATES

Alpine
Chip Knight Named Alpine Development Director
The USSA welcomed Chip Knight to its staff this spring as the new alpine development director. Knight, who skied on the national team for 13 years, is managing alpine development, including national training groups, regional programs and all alpine youth development programs. In an interview with USSA, Knight discussed his goals for the upcoming season, including getting to know our clubs, coaches and athletes at a national scale throughout the development ranks, weaving the pipeline structure together and broadening the base at a regional level.

First National University Team
In May, the U.S. Ski Team announced the formation of the first-ever National University Team for alpine ski racing. The National University Team will aim to both provide support for athletes as well as a stronger post-university transition to the U.S. Ski Team. The six male athletes named to this year’s team, which is serving as a trial program, are currently participating in a summer prep period custom-designed around their university schedules. The new partnership with college ski racing is one of many steps being taken by the USSA under the leadership of President and CEO Tiger Shaw to broaden its approach to sport development.

NTG Hits Mt. Hood
This month, nine National Training Group (NTG) athletes hit Palmer Snowfield at Mt. Hood for slalom training in June. The athletes trained for six days, focusing on fundamentals through freeskiing drills and drill courses. Technical focus was on stance, balance, ankle flexion, snow contact in transition, proper movement of center of mass and pole planting.

Under Development Director Chip Knight’s management, the women’s FIS national training group will be part of a larger training group reaching up to the Europa Cup team. Younger athletes will regularly be training with some of the best women on the national team. The new, integrative approach aims to fast-track athlete development on the NorAm circuit as they aim for success at the World Junior Championships in the years ahead.  

 

NORDIC

Nordic Domestic Program Director
With growing enthusiasm for cross country skiing, the USSA is adding the new position of nordic domestic program director to its staff team in Park City. Foremost in responsibilities will be membership and services growth. With the recently introduced sweeping changes to membership to offer attractive options for youth and a better structure to match the sport including family fee caps, the USSA sees one of its greatest opportunities for membership growth in cross country. The position will also be responsible for the administration of a variety of national and domestic programs.

2017 Nordic Junior Worlds
The FIS has awarded the 2017 FIS Nordic Junior World Championships and FIS U23 World Cross Country Championships to Utah’s Olympic venues in Park City and Midway, UT. The USSA put forward the joint bid with the Utah Olympic Park and Solider Hollow, both of which will host events throughout the championships. It is the first time the Nordic Junior Worlds have been held in the U.S. since 1986.

Hosting the 2017 Nordic Junior World Championships is yet another example of Utah’s successful utilization of its Olympic venues. Soldier Hollow and Utah Olympic Park are ideal venues for accommodating and showcasing these types of events, which draw a large number of participants and spectators. It is a great opportunity to showcase the sports and watch American athletes compete on the global stage.

Birkie Foundation Member Partnership
As part of its new membership structure, the USSA and the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation are teaming up for nationwide support of cross country skiing. The Birke is offering two USSA membership options, a general membership and a masters membership, with full access to USSA membership benefits.

 

FREESTYLE

Aerials Recruitment Camp
Utilizing social media, the U.S. Freestyle aerials ski team has recruited over 20 athletes to attend tryout camps in Lake Placid, NY and Park City. The Elite Air Tryout Camp contest, which has been in place for three years, invites athletes with a gymnastics, acrobatic or skiing background to submit videos via social media. Athletes win spots based on coaches’ discretion and fan voting. Current national team members have earned their spots on the team via the tryout contest, including last year’s Junior Worlds bronze medalist Elle Gaudette.

Coaches Matt Gnoza and Glenn Eddy are taking new roles with the U.S. Freestyle moguls team this season. Gnoza, who has over 20 years of freestyle leadership and coaching experience, is stepping in for Garth Hager as head coach. Eddy, who joins the team as the C team coach, has been involved with the USSA in a variety of positions, including serving on the USSA Board of Directors and as a World Cup-certified technical delegate. Both coaches bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team.

 

SNOWBOARDING/FREESKIING

Project Gold
Over 60 freeskiing and snowboarding athletes attended USSA’s Project Gold camp at Mammoth Mountain in May. Athletes who attend Project Gold, which encompasses both halfpipe and slopestyle disciplines, are the top development athletes in the country. The camp gives them the opportunity to train with U.S. national team coaches in a private facility. Project Gold is a key piece of U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing’s development pipeline. All current rookie team athletes attended Project Gold leading up to making the national team.

Event Partnerships
The Snowboarding and Freeskiing Sport Committees hosted productive and well-attended meetings last month at USSA Congress 2015. There were constructive discussions around the Revolution Tour pre-qualifying criteria and streamlining the athletic pipeline for halfpipe, slopestyle and big air. Following these discussions the USSA will partner with USASA (United States of America Snowboarding and Freeskiing Association) on the qualification process for the Revolution Tour. Athletes will qualify into the Revolution Tour from top USASA events in each region. This partnership will streamline the athletic pipeline for athletes progressing to the next level.