USSA
 

CEO Update: April 2016

Over the past two years, the USSA has engaged more directly with stakeholders and embraced new partners. Through the work of our sport task forces, we have started to change our organization. It’s been a year of very positive developments which we will showcase at USSA Congress May 11-15 in Park City.

Last year we introduced a new approach to our membership programs that lowered pricing and opened USSA membership to new groups. I am proud to report that, with the addition of the new membership categories and pricing structure, USSA membership is trending up 13%. Notably we’ve increased cross country memberships 110%. Membership growth remains an important goal.

We have spent significant time soliciting feedback from our membership on our organizational vision, mission, values and goals, along with the underlying objectives that support them. While our vision to make the USA the best in the world in Olympic skiing and snowboarding will not change, our Board of Directors has approved the following changes to our mission, values and goals to better embrace the inclusiveness of all stakeholders in the success of that vision.

Mission
The mission of the USSA is to lead, encourage and support athletes in achieving excellence by empowering national teams, clubs, coaches, parents, officials, volunteers and fans.

Values
Integrity – Action based on values rather than personal gain.
Passion – Motivation for doing what we love.
Fun – A fresh, positive, creative culture.
Team – Individual humility and collective pride.
Community – Exceptional stewardship and lifetime inclusiveness.
Excellence – Personal and collective wins every day.
Grit – Courage, tenacity and perseverance on the path to excellence.

Goals

  • Achieve athletic excellence
  • Grow the visibility of our sports
  • Engage, lead and grow our communities
  • Cultivate organizational excellence
  • Achieve financially sustainable growth

The new mission, values and goals will be rolled out to the community at USSA Congress.
 

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

 

OLYMPIC PREPARATIONS
With the 2018 Olympic Winter Games less than two years away, the freeskiing, snowboarding and alpine national teams traveled to PyeongChang this season for the first round of Olympic test events. The men’s speed team participated in a downhill and super G at the Jeongseon Alpine Center while men’s and women’s slopestyle skiing and snowboarding, snowboardcross and ski cross held events at the Bokwang Phoenix Park. Reports from athletes and coaches were very positive. Additional test events are calendared in February and March 2017.

Expect details on USSA hospitality packages for the 2018 Olympic Games soon.

USSA GROWS MEMBERSHIP
2015-16 was the first season of the USSA’s new membership structure, which was designed to make skiing and snowboard more affordable and accessible. New membership categories included general membership, short term athlete membership and club volunteer membership.

The new general member category brought in close to 3,000 new members while the club volunteer category tripled from the prior season. Almost 900 members took advantage of USSA’s new multiple membership offering, which allows members to add additional memberships for only the cost of the highest membership chosen.

A revised pricing structure helped make the sports more affordable, with general and entry level competitor memberships starting at just $15. A new family membership saved USSA families $10,000.

CLUB EXCELLENCE MERGES WITH USSA CONGRESS
Now in its ninth year, the USSA’s Club Excellence conference is being more closely integrated with USSA Congress, establishing stronger connectivity between the organization’s education and governance components. Following the regularly scheduled Club Excellence sessions, the USSA will host a bonus day with community breakout sessions. A full Club Excellence Conference and USSA Congress schedule can be found here.

ATHLETE CAREER AND EDUCATION
USSA’s TEAM Academy students once again saw success on the snow and in the classroom this season. River Radamus (alpine) made Youth Olympic Games history with three gold medals, Chris Lillis (aerials) became the youngest man ever to win an aerials World Cup, and Galena Wardle (alpine) and Harrison Smith (aerials) took home national titles.

The USSA saw increased college participation and enrollment, with 90 of the 215 national team athletes engaged in college courses. The USSA Tuition Reimbursement program provided $168,000 in college tuition reimbursements to 53 athletes in 2015. Through the USSA Westminster College Tuition Grant partnership, 42 athletes utilized 600 credit hours towards their college degrees.

The ACE Task Force is currently gathering feedback and input via surveys from current and alumni athletes to help inform ACE strategies and priorities as well as direct the next fundraising goals of the Marolt Athlete Endowment. This year’s Marolt Athlete Endowment opens for athletes mid-May and is a need-based grant to help offset athlete travel and team expense. The task force is also working with USSA’s ACE staff to determine career planning and transition opportunities, ultimately ensuring positive career pathways for both current and alumni athletes.

FOUNDATION
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation’s season highlights include our special events program raising a record $1.8 million. The Foundation anticipates an even bigger year next year as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New York Gold Medal Gala.  The Foundation hopes to bring back many alumni athletes, past ball chairpersons and supporters to celebrate. An announcement featuring a special honoree will be made soon. Mark your calendars for October 13.

Another highlight included the outreach work of the major gifts team. This past year, receptions were hosted receptions in cities and towns the Foundation traditionally hasn’t spent a lot of time in including Aspen, Los Angeles, Phoenix, St. Louis, Park City, Chicago, Sun Valley, Tahoe, Telluride, Wilmington, VT and more. The outreach introduced the team to a whole new audience of fans and supporters.

The Gold Pass program, USSA’s largest annual fundraising program, grew over the previous year and raised $3.4 million for athletics. Gift renewals for next year have already begun and donors can now renew their passes at www.ussagoldpass.org.

New to the Foundation’s program this year were restricted giving opportunities.  The highlight of this effort led to the purchase of a state of the art wax truck for our cross country team which will help level the playing field for these excellent athletes

The special events calendar for Fall 2016 is being finalized. Snowball season will kick off on September 29, 2016 in Boston. More information can be found at foundation.ussa.org.

EVENTS
USSA’s events department put on nine major events this season, with over 15 million people tuning in to watch on NBC and NBC Sports Network. The 2016 event season was highlighted by the Polartec Big Air at Boston’s iconic Fenway Park. This one event generated over 200 million impressions through traditional and social media. Over 27,000 skiing and snowboarding fans packed the stands at Fenway to cheer on U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing athletes.

NASTAR
Competitors from around the country spent a weekend racing and making memories at the 2016 Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships at Steamboat Resort. Over 1,000 recreational racers descended upon Ski Town, USA, gunning for individual podiums and participating in friends and family races. Steamboat Resort was fantastic in rolling out the red carpet for the racers and preparing and maintaining excellent courses. U.S. Ski Team stars Ted Ligety, Marco Sullivan, Jackie Wiles and others were able to join in on the fun, running the course and spending time with racers and their families.

RECORD SEASON FOR TV/STREAMING COVERAGE
With over 7 million viewers in the U.S., the USSA set an all-time TV rating record for its U.S. Grand Prix this season. The Grand Prix culminated in spectacular fashion with the highest-rated winter action sports television broadcast of the season from its Polartec Big Air at Fenway on NBC. The NBC broadcast averaged 1.357 million viewers with a .87 rating – greater than any other winter action sports program this year on any U.S. network. Coverage is expected to grow even further over the next two seasons, as the U.S. Grand Prix will be the focal point of Olympic qualifying leading up to PyeongChang 2018. 

The 2015-16 season was the first season NBC Universal was a rights holder for the FIS World Cup. With programming across NBC, NBC Sports Network and Universal HD, as well as thousands of hours of streamed content on NBC Sports Live Extra, the USSA’s athletes and sports were seen by millions more Americans this year than any other year in the past. NBC Universal intends to renew these rights in the coming weeks. The USSA is actively involved in making sure the distribution and availability of the World Cup is secure. With more content and access than ever before, the future of this content is very bright.

 

SPORT UPDATES

Alpine
Under the leadership of Chip Knight, the depth of USSA’s alpine development programs have grown significantly over the last year. As alpine development director, Knight was tasked with grooming a broader range of elite-level junior athletes that could break through at the highest levels of the sport. This season, skiers had a total of seven top 10 results at the FIS Junior World Championships in Sochi, Russia, including a downhill win from Erik Arvidsson. Three U16 skiers had podiums at the 7 Nations Cup and the Longines Future Ski Championships. Domestically, U.S. juniors won three Nor-Am titles and earned five World Cup start spots for next season.

Freestyle
Historically, the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team has helped support national team development groups in both moguls and aerials. These groups have been successful in fielding top tier athletes to the national teams, especially with aerials and the Elite Aerial Development Program. To further expand on these programs’ successes, beginning in the 2016-17 season, six athletes will be named to the moguls national D team based on their age and performance criteria. This will allow development level athletes to be fully integrated with the national team training programs and ensure a more efficient transition to the top of the podium.

Nordic
With the overall goal of increasing total USSA membership in mind, Nordic Domestic Program Director Robert Lazzaroni spearheaded efforts to reach out to the nordic community about the benefits of being a USSA member, particularly in cross country. Through partnerships with organizations such as the American Birkebeiner and Central Cross Country, a new price structure and opportunity drawings for all members, the USSA increased cross country membership by 110%.

Attention is now focused on the 2017 FIS Nordic Junior World Championships and FIS U23 World Cross Country Championships, which are returning to the U.S. next year for the first time since 1986. The event will take place January 30 – February 5, 2017 at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in Midway, UT and the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. The USSA is looking forward to working with the Utah Olympic Legacy and Soldier Hollow Olympic Legacy Foundations to host these world-class athletes.. More information can be found at www.utah2017.com.

The USSA has developed the nordic cross country initiative, a group of stakeholders in the nordic community focused on growing awareness and participation in the active, healthy, outdoor lifestyle of cross country skiing. This group will be developing tactics to help promote the sport at the local and national levels.

Snowboarding/Freeskiing
Since the advent of freeskiing as an Olympic sport in 2011, the interests of the sport have been managed within a combined freeskiing and freestyle USSA sport committee structure and within the FIS. On March 8, the USSA Board voted to create a new freeskiing specific sport committee. The action will grow the voting members of the USSA Board to 23 by adding a sport committee representative and freeskiing athlete to the Board. An interim sport committee, to be initially chaired by Tom Yaps, will be populated by members of the existing sub-committee, and will have members from all of the regions to better represent freeskiing across the country. Additionally, a new committee chair for the USSA snowboarding sport committee will be elected at USSA Congress.

In conjunction with level 300 courses, USSA Sport Education will be offering level 400 coaches education clinics for both snowboarding and freeskiing this May. This is a first for both sports and is a great step forward in developing best in the world coaches at the local and elite levels. Any coaches interesting in completing the clinics can register at ussnowboarding.com or usfreeskiing.com.