USSA
 

My First 100 Days - President and CEO Tiger Shaw

As I pass the 100-day benchmark at the helm of the USSA, I’d like to share with you some of our changes, achievements and events. We are excited to move the organization forward with new staff additions, fresh initiatives and many new projects and events on the horizon. As a key stakeholder in our success, we appreciate your engagement!

Our emphasis has been in three primary areas:

  • 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.

 

The management of an athletic track to the top is critical to our success. But in support of that track, we need to have broad participation at all levels of our sport – essentially a double pyramid where the larger base supports the narrower path to excellence.

Elite Teams

Our Olympic success this season was matched by our athletes’ World Cup, Grand Prix, X Games and other world class level achievements. The 17 Olympic medals won, with a record eight gold, was extraordinary! But so were the numerous World Cup titles and podiums achieved. The season concluded with very successful national championships and spring competitions around the US and the world.

Long before the spring competition season ended, our staff was already focusing on the season to come, budgeting, managing coaching staff, planning schedules and nominating teams. This behind the scenes process consumes much energy and time, but sets the stage for a great year to come.

Long term strategic planning analysis, guided by the methodology of our 2010 USSA Strategic Plan, led to the difficult decision to alter the funding model for our nordic combined program. We will maintain a core program and have invited the constituent community to engage and support the sport in a new way, which includes earmarked funding and seeking alternative, additional sponsors. We have seen some success with this model and will continue to work with stakeholders to find creative and strategic alternatives, including working with new training and competition partners in other countries.

Some team sizes were reduced; a normal occurrence following an Olympics. Funding was also shifted to support the addition of new Olympic sports, with which we had great success in slopestyle and halfpipe. We must continue our forward momentum and dominance in these new sports while continuing development efforts in all sports.

Staffing Changes

We have made a number of strategic staff changes to increase the strength of our business operation. We must have the best team possible in place to grow revenue and manage our very complex multisport business, which continues to evolve.

In March, Alex Natt joined USSA as Executive Vice President and General Counsel. Having Alex return to the team has been critical as we implement USSA governance initiatives indicated by the McKinsey study findings, adopt new SafeSport policies to protect our children, as well general strategy with partners of all types worldwide.

In May, Trisha Worthington returned to the executive team at the helm of the Foundation, as Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer. I am excited about where Trisha will lead us: general growth as well as increased trustee engagement via new roles and staffing structures. Building her major gifts officer team as well a renewed alignment of the Gold Pass and events programs are top of her long list of ways to evolve the Foundation supporting the future of our athletic teams.

On July 1, George “Jory” Macomber will join the USSA as Head of School and Vice President, Athlete Career and Education. Jory’s charge is two-fold. First, he will oversee consolidation of the varied services we have been offering athletes into a singular athlete career, education and life skills development program. He will also address the age-old problem many of our sports face: world class, high school and college aged athletes needing to travel 100+ days per season, causing conflicting academic and athletic goals. In leading our TEAM Academy, as well as working closely with pipeline partner programs comprised of our clubs, academies and schools, Jory will rely upon his more than 20 years of experience teaching and leading New Hampshire’s Holderness School, as well serving on the board of directors of Burke Mountain Academy.

Julie Glusker recently joined Jory’s team as a director, supporting Jory’s responsibilities and working alongside Lauren Loberg, who will continue our career, mentoring, counseling and college scholarship support. Joe Rhodes joins Elaine Peterson on our academy teaching staff.

To support and move the USSA into the future with IT efforts, Lori Stevenson now leads the IT staff as Senior Director of Information Systems. The USSA is moving into a new era of consolidated systems that will help tremendously with event management, donor management and membership. We have already started several core projects that will reduce internal silos of information and support close collaboration internally and externally with partners of all types.

In addition to the changes, my executive team remains anchored and led by CFO Mark Lampe, Executive Vice President, Athletics Luke Bodensteiner, Vice President, Events Calum Clark, CMO Mike Jaquet and Vice President, Communications Tom Kelly. I am thankful to have this powerful and cohesive team working closely with me as we evolve the USSA.

Sport Governance

The USSA Congress was big success this May in Park City, attended by more than 200 representatives, volunteers, officials, staff members and stakeholders in the USSA family. I am deeply grateful for the efforts of our volunteers, whose six days of working group, sub committee, committee and board meetings provide a solid foundation upon which I can manage this complex business.

An important element of Congress was the culmination of a yearlong effort to develop a written understanding of 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 effort is a central recommendation of the McKinsey study and is a key initiative of my team in Park City and regional leadership nationwide.

Recurring themes in feedback from our sports include concern over 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. We have been taking this input seriously and are developing committees to further study the issues and to acquire and organize input that can be used to make recommendations for program directions. These efforts are important to the USSA as we need them to help guide our strategic decision-making moving forward.

The FIS Congress, held in Barcelona the first week of June, was a huge success for USSA. We took a very strategic approach to our initiatives, bringing staff and volunteers together as one U.S. delegation. We had many major achievements:

  • USSA Chairman Dexter Paine was elected to the 17-member FIS Council, and also to one of four the Vice President seats
  • Bill Marolt was elected an Honorary Member of FIS, joining Hank Tauber as one of only a handful of individuals to receive this high honor.
  • Aspen was narrowly awarded the 2017 Alpine World Cup Finals, the result of a strategic battle led by Bill Marolt in the FIS Council.
  • The community of Park City, with participation from all three resorts, was awarded the 2019 World Championships in freestyle, freeskiing and snowboarding.
  • Athlete Commission Chair Kikkan Randall was placed on the FIS Council as an athlete representative, presently non-voting – a major move for FIS adding much- needed athlete input to the Council.

 

While the USSA continues to contend among the classic world powers in alpine and nordic, and remains the leader in the new slopestyle and halfpipe sports within freeskiing and snowboarding, we have been advocating at FIS for big air and team snowboardercross (SBX) inclusion in the Olympic Games. We are happy to report that FIS approved an effort to move forward into strategic discussions with the IOC, which means these sports may be included on the Olympic program for PyeongChang 2018.

New Sports

In past Olympics we have seen the dramatic impact that new sports can have on our athletic success. Our organization has long been on the forefront of identifying relevant sports that are attractive to youth and developing successful athletic programs around them.

In addition to our specific initiative for big air and team SBX at FIS Congress, I have been actively engaging with sport leaders including Jake Burton and leadership of the TTR World Snowboard Tour. We plan to continue a very open dialogue within snowboarding and freeskiing to capitalize on those sports and to provide a true global showcase at the 2019 World Championships in Park City.

Partnerships

We continue to enjoy strong partnerships with the National Ski Areas Association through Michael Berry and SnowSports Industries America led by David Ingemie, both ex officio members of our USSA board. I met with both boards in early May to introduce our vision. There is broad support from the industry, which sees our success as a strong marketing tool. As a result of those efforts, the NSAA has made 50 more Gold Passes available to the USSA for this coming season to support our fundraising efforts.

Bringing major events in our sport to iconic competition communities like Aspen and Park City is a strong strategic follow up to the 2015 World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek. This long-term strategy to keep a global focus on snowsports here in the USA is a valuable asset.

Our long-term partnership with NBC, along with a creative approach to acquisition of U.S. broadcast rights to the 2015 and 2017 World Championships, has resulted in the strongest coverage plan ever for Vail/Beaver Creek next February. NBC, NBCSN and Universal Sports will combine for over 25 hours of coverage including live broadcast of every event and a live pre-race show before each broadcast.

We anticipate a very strong turnout at our annual Partner Summit here at the Center of Excellence July 23-25.

FY14 Financial Results and FY15 Forecast

With the 2014 fiscal year ending April 30, we are estimating a deficit of approximately $367,000. As with any Olympic year, it was challenging to provide sufficient athletic funds to achieve athletic success while also encountering a number of expense challenges such as greater than expected costs encountered in Sochi, Olympic qualifying events with weather delays and re-schedules, and mid-winter Olympic prep camps to enhance our medal preparations.

Our FY15 forecast includes a $150,000 surplus, which required a conservative athletic planning effort to achieve. It is imperative that we run a surplus in FY15 and remain conservative in our marketing forecast to ensure that we run in the black this year. We are comfortable with our budget and feel that we will be prepared athletically for all events including World Championships in every sport.

Looking forward to 2015

As our teams prepare for the 2014-15 season and World Championships, including those on our home turf with Vail’s Alpine Worlds this February, we are also working on strategic planning that will guide us past next year. These efforts will include convening several working and study groups:

  • Strategic Planning Committee, examining our resource allocation process.
  • U.S. Alpine Ski Team Development Committee, evaluating our development pipelines.
  • USSA Sport Entry and Retention Committees, studying membership and cost.

 

These committees will return recommendations that our staff can use to guide decision-making into the next quad, which will drive our successes and ensure we build on our Best in the World status.

I’m looking forward to working with you moving forward, as we evolve and grow this organization to the next level of financial stability, sustained athletic success, and inclusion of all who are passionate about our sports and add to the strength of the USSA family. Close alignment provides a powerful means to propel our organization, as we found during our governance efforts surrounding the USSA divisions. We plan to bring this to all aspects of our operations.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Tiger