USSA
 

April 2015 Quarterly Update

After an action-packed few months, the 2014-15 season has come to an end as U.S. athletes brought home a total of eight World Cup globes, 16 World Championship medals and 13 X Games medals. In addition to those Best in the World results, we saw great success on home soil with the 2015 FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek. The USSA was also able to spearhead the broadcasting and streaming of the alpine and nordic World Championships, showcasing our sports to millions of fans all over the United States and the world..

When I took the reins at the USSA last year, it was my goal to broaden the organization’s reach and embrace people involved at every level of our sports. I spent this season on the road traveling to divisions and clubs, watching USSA and college races and engaging with our elite teams in the field. I met with coaches, parents, USSA members and non-members. This year, at the USSA Congress May 12-17, we will share the changes the USSA has made in the past year to better encompass everyone who has a passion for our sports, whether they are competing or just watching from the sidelines.

Among the changes that will be introduced is a new approach to our membership programs, lowering many costs and opening USSA membership to thousands of new sport enthusiasts. With new membership programs in each sport, we will better address the needs of a wider range of constituents from athletes to volunteers to parents with appropriately priced memberships, a cap on total family costs and enhanced benefits.

I look forward to sharing these new developments with all of you in May.

Tiger

 

Financial
We’re pleased to welcome Brooke McAffee to the USSA staff as Chief Financial Officer. A lifelong active athlete herself, McAffee came to the USSA after spending nearly a decade with the Sundance Institute, most recently as its CFO. Brooke’s expertise will help us evolve and grow, maximizing funding to athletics. She is already developing reporting to be shared at USSA Congress, which will add to our financial transparency, helping everyone better understand our athletic funding and operations.

Club Development and Sport Education
In conjunction with USSA Congress, the Sport Education department is ramping up for the 2015 Club Excellence Conference. In addition to this year’s lineup of breakout sessions, USSA Club Development Director Brian Krill will host a Club Certification Workshop specifically focused on supporting clubs that would like to pursue podium club certification at the Bronze level. Andy Wirth, President and CEO of Squaw Valley Resort, will deliver the keynote, focusing on this year’s theme “The Power of Partnership.”

The USSA will also host a strength and conditioning symposium concurrent with the Club Excellence Conference at the USSA Center of Excellence. A physical therapy course will also be offered followed by a Medical Emergencies in Skiing and Snowboarding course during the USSA Congress meetings.

Athletes Giving Back
National team athletes displayed Best in the World performances on the mountain this season. These performances led to increased engagement with and the progression of our sports. We’re proud of what athletes do on the hill, but also the way they represent themselves and the USSA when they aren’t competing.

An athlete giving back to their community or a cause is an important part of being a U.S. team member. The USSA recognizes athletes who engage in community involvement activities and seeks to increase the number of opportunities athletes have in this area.

Just a few examples of this effort include the alpine speed teams visiting with military families during a World Cup in Germany. The snowboarding team participated in a program with the Chinese Winter Sports School during FIS Junior World Championships. And, athletic staff is currently planning a four-day trip to Tijuana, Mexico in June with about 20 athletes to build a home for a family in need with the organization More Than Hope.

Each year at the USSA Congress, we honor an athlete and the cause they support by presenting that athlete with the USSA Athletes Giving Back Award, together with a donation of  $5,000 for their cause thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor.

Innovative Media Brings Record Coverage for Events
The USSA has innovated greatly in the area of media distribution as evidenced by the roughly 15 million Americans who engaged with USSA content this February on television or through USSA digital and social media channels.

  • The Alpine World Championships at Vail/Beaver Creek had over 700-million viewers worldwide, including over 10 million in America - a new non-Olympics viewership record for ski racing in the States.  This was due to great collaboration with USSA as the rights holder, NBC as the media partner and production arm, and Vail Valley Foundation as the event host.
  • The USSA pioneered an equally successful Nordic World Championships program, by providing fans with the first-ever free live streaming to North America with nearly 50,000 video starts plus over 1 million more impressions from content posted to USSA web and social channels. New partner L.L. Bean sponsored the coverage.
  • The Sprint U.S. Grand Prix wrapped up in Park City with viewership levels greater than the Olympic qualification programs a year ago. Global coverage reached over 60 nations including live or same-day coverage across Europe and Asia.

 

Education and Athletic Performance
The USSA’s Athlete Career and Education programs, including TEAM Academy and the partnership with Westminster College, continue to play a key role in athletic success and preparing athletes for their lives after sport.

In the past five years, Westminster College has helped over 130 national team athletes combine elite level training with a college education. This spring will be the team’s largest graduating class with seven athletes.

The USSA TEAM Academy at the Center of Excellence in Park City continues to provide a highly beneficial balance of academics and athletics, with four athletes winning U18 alpine national titles and eight athletes participating in FIS world and junior world championships. Senior Ty Walker won her first World Cup, while alumni Kiley McKinnon and Mac Bohonnon brought home crystal globes. Nine student athletes will graduate this spring and have received college acceptances from 11 different colleges across the country.

USSA Reaches $1 Million on RallyMe
Last October, the USSA launched “USSA Crowdfunding,” the groundbreaking fundraising platform exclusively for its member clubs and athletes. This March, USSA member athletes and clubs from around the nation passed a great milestone, collectively raising more than $1 million for their ski and snowboarding goals. RallyMe has provided support for over 240 USSA athletes, including alpine skiers Paula Moltzan and AJ Ginnis, who won gold and bronze medals at the FIS Alpine Junior World Championships in Norway. Moltzan and Ginnis have each raised over $20,000 on the platform.

Champions Club Offers Championship Experiences
The Champions Club program, a major source of funding for the teams, will now offer Olympic and World Championship experiences for major supporters. The next two programs will be in St. Moritz and PyeongChang.

Thanks to the National Ski Areas Association and over 250 resorts around the country, this year’s Gold Pass program raised over $3 million for the teams. The USSA would like to thank NSAA and Gold Pass participants for their continued support.

 

SPORT UPDATES

ALPINE
New Alpine Development Director
Recognizing the importance of alpine development in the United States, the USSA has hired Dartmouth College’s Chip Knight to take on the role of alpine development director. Knight’s position will be responsible for all aspects of domestic alpine development and will report to Alpine Director Patrick Riml. Since assuming the position of Alpine Director in 2011, Riml has placed a greater emphasis on development, expanding national development projects while maintaining a consistent development philosophy nationwide. The USSA has also expanded its operational support for development, both at the regional and national levels.

Collegiate Skiing
The USSA is looking at collegiate skiing as a more integral part of the overall pipeline. The USSA NCAA Working Group, led by Domestic Program Director Michelle Demschar, is researching ways the USSA can better collaborate with colleges to provide enhanced training possibilities and support development athletes.

SkillsQuest Growth
This season, expanded outreach to USSA clubs resulted in a 33% increase in the number of SkillsQuest tournaments across the country. SkillsQuest is an innovative USSA program creating an educational platform to teach and evaluate basic skiing skills for young ski racers.

FREESTYLE
EADP Leads to Medals and Globes

The 2015 season was a historic one for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. For the first time in 20 years, the team brought home the men’s and women’s titles in aerials. The team also won 2015 FIS aerials Rookie of the Year, the fifth year in a row a U.S. athlete has received the award, and the Nations Cup, solidifying the aerials team’s spot as Best in the World. These successes stem from the USSA’s Elite Aerial Development Program (EADP).  Five years ago USSA created EADP to shift the focus of aerial recruitment from strictly ski athletes to acrobatic athletes such as gymnasts. The program really flourished after the 2010 Olympic in Vancouver and now, five seasons later, the USSA is reaping the success EADP and other development programs can create.

Moguls Development Fueling Success
The moguls development pipeline continues to strengthen with increased participation in regional programs. Clubs across all divisions are able to fill spots at all levels of competition. Greater participation at the regional level feeds more top-level talent into the Young Guns program and development group, providing a strong base on which to build the national team. The USSA freestyle staff continues to work closely with these regions and programs to grow the success of the athletes and the sport.

Project Big Air
USSA athletes are looking forward to the re-opening of the new water ramps at the Utah Olympic Park this summer. Project Big Air has been underway since last October. The project includes seven brand new, sport specific ramps for aerials, moguls, freeskiing, snowboarding and big air. Generous donations resulting from  fundraising by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation and the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation made this innovative project possible, putting Park City and the Utah Olympic Park at the forefront of skiing and snowboarding development.

Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined
This spring, the ski jumping community lost its beloved pioneer DeeDee Corradini. Corradini, who served as mayor of Salt Lake City from 1992-2000 and as the president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA for 10 years, was the outspoken and unyielding leader in the global fight to allow women to participate in ski jumping at the Olympic level. That dream was realized in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. DeeDee’s tenacity and passion for the sport will be missed.

Thanks to Ski Jumping Partners
A special thanks to our partners in ski jumping, USA Ski Jumping (men) and Women’s Ski Jumping USA for the increasingly active role each organization is providing in sport development.

NNF Support of Nordic Sports
The National Nordic Foundation has provided significant resources for U.S. Cross Country and Nordic Combined Ski Team members, as well as USSA development projects. Medals won in Falun would not have happened without the generous support of the NNF, and for this the U.S. Ski Team and the USSA are immensely grateful. The impact of this support is huge for athletes, their families, clubs and our teams. In addition, NNF provided critical funding for the Junior World Championships/U23 Worlds trip where Ben Saxton finished sixth in U23s and Katharine Ogden sixth in Junior Worlds.

Cross Country Partnership
A lot goes into athletic success, such as the medals won by Jessie Diggins and Caitlin Gregg at World Championships. One of the key strategies for World Championships this year was a partnership with the American cross country community to support the team as a whole. The spartan U.S. technicians and coaching crew was supplemented by volunteer club and private coaches, technicians and medical staff. It made us proud as a team to know America was working together.

Cross Country Advisory Board
Under the leadership of trustee Liz Arky, the newly established Cross Country Advisory Board continues to play a key role for cross country. The board consists of industry experts, coaches and business leaders. The primary focus has been to raise awareness for cross country skiing and the team and to bring new funds to the program. USSA professional staff has leveraged the advisory board to refine brand positioning and raise money, as well as gaining greater recognition for athletes and the sport through increased media coverage. 

Welcome L.L. Bean and CRAFT. 
On the heels of the FIS Nordic World Championships, L.L. Bean, in conjunction with CRAFT Sportswear North America, has signed on as the new uniform provider for the U.S. cross country and nordic combined teams. L.L. Bean will provide insulated outerwear and rainwear, as well as casual products and hats. CRAFT will develop customized World Cup and Olympic race suits and performance jackets and pants. Both companies will share responsibility for summer training products and base layers. The partnership between L.L. Bean, CRAFT and the U.S. Ski Team will continue through the 2018 Olympic season.

Thanks to Event Organizers
This was a year where event organizers proved to be invaluable. All of the organizing committees who played host to USSA National Ranking List races or SuperTours made a big difference for athletes. Over 400 athletes participated in the Junior Nationals in Truckee, CA where the Auburn Ski Cub tirelessly prepared a 2.5k loop. Thank you to Sun Valley for successfully hosting the SuperTour finals at Galena Lodge.

SNOWBOARDING/FREESKIING
Event Organizers Play Key Role
While most events were able to go off without a hitch, event organizers were not without weather challenges this season. The USSA’s resort and event partners are always crucial to event success and never has that been more evident than this season.  As an example, USASA and Copper Mountain opted to make the snowboardcross nationals open class category a FIS NorAm competition. Mammoth Mountain also stepped up to host a second Rev Tour stop this season. The ability of partners to work with the USSA to create competition opportunities for the athletes has been invaluable, and we look forward to working with them in the coming seasons.

Grassroots Programs Lead to Success
Justin Reiter’s hard work and persistence earned him his first career World Cup victory in parallel slalom snowboarding under the lights in Moscow. Reiter continues to participate in Race to the Cup events and USASA nationals to prepare for the World Cup and encourage and motivate younger athletes in the sport.

Streamlining the Competition Pipeline
Staff is working closely with USASA to develop a more streamlined competition pipeline for snowboarding and freeskiing. This season, the USASA Nationals open class event for snowboardcross, PGS and PSL were co-sanctioned as FIS events. Sport committees will continue this work for halfpipe and slopestyle to create more opportunities for athletes at the lower levels of the pipeline.