USSA
 

Fall Quarterly Update - November 2015

After a summer full of training and preparation, coaches, clubs and athletes are gearing up for another winter season. While some teams are in the midst of pre-season, on-snow camps, Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin started things off on a high note for our national teams with strong performances at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup opener in Soelden, Austria last month. We are now turning our focus to the upcoming domestic world cups, including the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational and Audi Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek.

Internally, our organization spent the summer vetting our vision, mission, values and goals, along with the underlying objectives that support those goals and our values. Thanks to all who provided input for our values this spring. We also outlined long-term goals and objectives for the USSA, simplifying and streamlining the process of achieving these goals and bringing clarity to exactly what we as an organization are attempting to achieve. I would encourage all of you to read the minutes from our USSA Board of Directors meeting, which include detailed notes on all of these processes. Following board approval, we will roll out our new vision, mission, values and goals at USSA Congress next spring.

Finally, I would like to officially welcome Troy Taylor and Robert Lazzaroni to our staff in Park City. Troy re-joined our team as high performance director. He previously worked for the USSA in 2006 leading up to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy. A strong high performance program is fundamental to establishing successful athletic programs and supporting our elite athletes, and Troy is prepared to lead our world-class sport science team as they work to make our athletes Best in the World. Robert came on as the new nordic domestic program manager this fall, bringing over 20 years of nordic knowledge, on both the athletic and sport business side, to our team. A key focus of this position is nordic membership growth, in which we are already seeing results.

 

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

 

GENERAL

U.S. Ski Team App
Over the past year, the USSA has been in the process of developing new digital tools to better connect our members and fans with our sports. This season, fans will have the most up-to-date news and information on the U.S. Ski Team in the palm of their hands with a new mobile iOS app from the U.S. Ski Team and Ski Racing International. This is a new way to engage with our fans and gives us an added tool to help reach new audiences and demographics. Through a strong mobile presence, we can provide our constituents with immediate access to relevant news and information wherever they are.

To download the app, visit the Apple store. An Android version of the app, as well as the addition of other sports, is in the works.

NASTAR
The U.S. Ski Team will officially kick off the NASTAR racing season with the Putnam Investments NASTAR Pacesetting Trails on Saturday, November 21st. Headlining the national pacesetting trials will be Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety along with an impressive list of both current and former U.S. Ski Team athletes including World Champion Daron Rahlves, two-time Olympian Kaylin Richardson, World Championship medalist AJ Kitt, Olympic gold medalist Diann Roffe and more. It will be the first time NASTAR will have the official pacesetting trials since 1993.

NASTAR Nationals are set to return to Steamboat Resort March 24-27, 2016. NASTAR participants qualify for the championships by earning a top ten national ranking or a top five state ranking within their age, gender and ability group by February 15. Racers can also qualify by earning a top ranking at their favorite resort or at the Regional Championships.

Steamboat previously played host to championships from 2006-2009. While at Steamboat, NASTAR experienced the highest participation it has ever seen at championships to date.

ATHLETE CAREER AND EDUCATION
The USSA’s athlete career and education programs experienced successful growth over the past season. There was a 20% increase in the number of national team athletes and alumni attending college. The Westminster College program alone supported 65 USSA athletes in 2014-15 with a 3.5 GPA. This summer, USSA staff met with teams to work out individual plans with athletes to continue to support academic and athletic success.

This fall, it was announced that the USSA’s Vice President, Athlete Career and Education George ‘Jory’ Macomber will be leaving the organization this spring to become head of school at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. In his tenure at the USSA, Macomber is credited with advancing the organization’s programs for elite athletes, most notably the renewal of its partnership with Westminster College, expanding scholarship opportunities and in creating significant resources for personal career development for athletes including a new leadership program for alumni mentoring. He has also worked to effectively advance the academic quality at the USSA TEAM Academy, a high school program now entering its fourth season. Macomber will remain in his position at the USSA into the spring of 2016.

SPORT EDUCATION
This fall, USSA’s Sport Education department launched a sport education blog dedicated to distributing news, resources, stories and information relevant to coaches, clubs and parents. Make sure to check the blog for updated information all season long.

The USSA announced in September the hiring of Jon Casson as its new coach development manager. Casson will oversee all USSA coach development programs, including certification, SkillsQuest and academies. He will provide a comprehensive, progressive and integrated education and certification program to USSA coaches across all USSA sports, with the aim of driving greater uptake by coaches resulting in expanded certification across the coaching membership.

The USSA and the the Professional Ski Instructors Association-American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) are now working under a letter of agreement to further collaborate in the interest of professional development. The USSA and PSIA-AASI are performing a full audit of the programs, resources and certifications available to further identify what may be valuable to the other partner and to explore further channels and strategies for sharing educational resources. At the club level in particular, USSA is placing more emphasis on teaching skills, developing basic skiing and snowboarding skills in youth, and giving coaches more options for professional development. 

FOUNDATION
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation is in the midst of its special events season. With successful events in Boston, New York City and San Francisco already in the books, focus is now on the Denver Snow Ball as well as receptions in Phoenix and Chicago. Next year we will celebrate the 50th New York Gold Medal Gala. It will be an event not to be missed.

This fall, the Foundation launched a new campaign, #Give10, encouraging everyone to donate just $10 to help support the athletes of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing. Donors were then asked to share a #Give10 graphic and challenge 10 of their friends to support as well. Executed primarily on social media, the #Give10 campaign was a great way to reach new donors and let everyone know that every little bit counts to help athletes pursue their dreams. Up next is a holiday appeal from our freestyle aerials World Cup champions Mac Bohonnon and Kiley McKinnon. The appeal will be distributed via mail and email and supported through our social media networks.

MARKETING

Since its origins as the World Championship Sports Network in 2005, Universal Sports has been a strong partner of the USSA, carrying content from all of our sports. While the network will cease operations after Nov. 16, we are optimistic that new rights owner NBC will pickup increasing event coverage on both its broadcast and digital platforms. The USSA is committed to helping push for this expansion. Stay tuned for more developments and thanks to Universal Sports for a decade of great coverage.

The USSA has renewed its partnership with long-time alpine uniform supplier Spyder through 2020. As part of the agreement, Spyder will continue to serve as the team’s exclusive apparel partner through the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. In the renewed partnership, Spyder will supply its most technical performance products, which fuse proprietary technology, form, function and style, to outfit the U.S. Ski Team. We are also happy to welcome the Jacuzzi brand to the portfolio with a sponsorship for the next three years to be USSA’s official spa provider.  Jacuzzi will be activating on the alpine World Cup in Europe to start and in America later in the contract.

USSA Governance
The USSA has created a task force, lead by Eric Resnick and Lisa Kosglow, to take a bottom-up look at its governance. This task force will focus on board composition, committee structure and review best practices of corporate and non-profit boards. The task force will present the USSA Board with a full report in May 2016.

Lead by Darryl Landstrom, the USSA Alpine Sport Committee governance is also being evaluated, with a goal of broadening and increasing the expertise of committee members on a variety of issues, including safety, equipment and course homologation.

FIS Representation
The changes in USSA representation to the FIS are as follows:

Allan Serrano: Cross Country Subcommittee for Rules and Control, Subcommittee for Popular Cross Country

Matt Gnoza: Freestyle Rules & Officials

 

SPORT UPDATES

ALPINE
It was a busy summer in the southern hemisphere for the national team, with camps in Oahu, New Zealand, and Portillo and Coralco, Chile. The USSA’s National Training Group (NTG) also had a very productive summer with projects in New Zealand at Ohau, Round Hill, Treble Cone and Coronet Peak, providing multiple crossover training opportunities with the national team. West and Rocky/Central Region athletes, development staff and coaches were all able to collaborate on a regional project in La Parva, Chile.

This season, USSA’s alpine development staff is starting a national U19 men’s series, featuring training and racing as part of one project. The program is designed to challenge athletes and foster growth in a head-to-head environment as they seek to make the jump to Nor-Am competition and beyond. This year’s events will be hosted at Vail, Stowe and Mt. Bachelor.

FREESTYLE
National and local teams had a very successful summer training at the new water ramps at the Utah Olympic Park. These water ramps are one of the most heavily utilized training facilities of Utah's Olympic Legacy Foundation venues and play a key part in the progression of the sports and preparing athletes for on snow training and competition. Thank you to the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, Jacobsen Construction and everyone who supported this project.

The moguls national team just wrapped up a successful on-snow camp in Zermatt, Switzerland. They, along with the aerials national team, are back in Park City training at the USSA’s Center of Excellence before kicking off their World Cup season in December.

Deer Valley Resort has been a long-time training partner of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. This summer, the USSA signed a formal training agreement with the resort through 2019. With Deer Valley’s acquisition of Solitude Mountain Resort, both venues will be available for athlete training in the coming seasons leading up to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and the 2019 FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships.

NORDIC
To kick off the season, over two dozen athletes and coaches gathered at the USSA’s Center of Excellence training facility in Park City as leaders from L.L.Bean and CRAFT unveiled the 2015-16 uniform kits for the athletes, handing out full sets of winter training wear, warmup clothing, outerwear and competition suits. Much of the L.L.Bean and CRAFT gear that the athletes will wear this season will also be available to the public.

Under the leadership of Robert Lazzaroni, the USSA’s nordic department has a renewed focus on membership growth, particularly in the sport of cross country. In addition to a new membership structure, the USSA has established additional membership opportunities with the Central Cross Country Ski Association and the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation

The USSA has expanded its relationship with Women’s Ski Jumping USA, taking on an broader role in managing women’s elite ski jumping starting this fall. Program elements for the elite team will remain in place for the season under the USSA. The USSA is committed this season to maintaining the elite coaching program put in place by WSJ-USA. Going forward, both programs will work together to raise funds specific to women’s ski jumping.

The cross country, ski jumping and nordic combined teams all hosted successful camps and competitions this summer. Mike Glasder, Nita Englund, Will Rhoads, Nina Lussi and Bryan Fletcher all took home titles in the ski jumping and nordic combined national championships which take place each summer in Park City, UT and Lake Placid, NY.

The Cross Country Team is enroute to Europe for the season, starting with a camp in Gällivare, Sweden where they will compete in a pair of FIS races, then on to the Nordic World Cup Opener over Thanksgiving Weekend in Ruka, Finland. SuperTour kicks off that same weekend in West Yellowstone, MT.

The team wrapped up its preparation period with a great camp in Utah with all 16 team members present, plus NTG and club athletes from around the country. The camp included testing in the lab, nutrition and sports medicine consulting, and a three-day rollerski mini-tour at Soldier Hollow. In August the Team competed at Toppidrettsveka, the three-day, four-stage mini Tour in Norway – a first time for the USA. Over 40,000 fans watched the final pursuit in Trondheim, with live national TV coverage. Noah Hoffman and Liz Stephen had podiums.

Athletes had on snow training for two weeks in July at Snow Farm, near Cardrona, New Zealand, with excellent skiing conditions – didn’t miss a single day of training. The camp replaced time lost on snow with cancellation of Mt. Bachelor camp in May.

SNOWBOARDING/FREESKIING
The 2015-16 schedule for the U.S. Grand Prix tour was announced in October along with the schedule and prequalified athlete lists for the Revolution Tour. This year’s Grand Prix tour is highlighted by Big Air at Fenway, featuring the world’s best athletes and a 140-foot snow ramp in the middle of Fenway Park in Boston. For more details about Big Air at Fenway, including ticket information, please visit redsox.com/bigair.

The USSA hosted another successful Project Gold camp at the Center of Excellence in Park City, UT in October. The best junior athletes in the country gathered for a progression camp focused on air awareness and skill building. Project Gold is a key component of the development pipeline for U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing. More information on the camp can be found at ussa.org.

U.S. Snowboarding’s slopestyle snowboarding coach Bill Enos announced his departure from USSA’s coaching staff in October. Enos led the slopestyle team to numerous World Cup wins, X Games medals and most notably coached Sage Kotsenburg (Park City, UT) and Jamie Anderson (S. Lake Tahoe, CA) on their way to making history at the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, both walking away with gold medals in snowboarding slopestyle’s Olympic debut. In his five years coaching U.S. Snowboarding, Enos not only helped progress athletes’ riding but the slopestyle program itself, setting up future teams for success. We wish Bill the best of luck on his new adventures.

KEY UPCOMING EVENTS

2015
Dec. 3-6: U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation Board of Trustees, Vail/Beaver Creek
Dec. 5: USSA Board of Directors, Vail/Beaver Creek

2016
Jan. 28-31: SnowSports Industries America Snow Show, Denver
May 11-15: USSA Congress, Park City
May 15: USSA Board of Directors, Park City
May 18-21: National Ski Areas Association Convention and Trade Show, Nashville, TN
June 5-11: International Ski Federation Congress, Cancun, Mexico