USSA Congress is the annual meeting of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, held each May, this year in Park City, Utah. The USSA Congress is open to all USSA members, regardless of committee participation. USSA Congress 2014 was a huge success. Sport committees, subcommittees and the USSA Board of Directors all held very successful meetings and solicited collaborative discussion on a variety of topics. Attendance was at an all-time high, with a record number attending President and CEO Tiger Shaw’s opening address.
Taking place immediately before USSA Congress, the Club Excellence Conference is the only conference of its kind targeted for ski and snowboard club leaders, including athletic staff, board members and parent leaders. The 2014 Club Excellence Conference celebrated record attendance with well over 100 participants from clubs around the country. Breakout sessions covering both organizational and athletic performance topics were of extreme value to attendees.
A summary of the 2014 Club Excellence Conference can be found here.
“The major, unwavering focus of our national teams is and always will be to be the Best in the World. So what does that vision mean to you as a club director, judge or official, parent, coach or administrator? The elite pipeline seems distant. Well, it is not as distant as you might think. It is no disconnect. Rather it is a tight connection to a dream that only some might realize, but with mere pursuit, you become an intrinsic and even critical part of it.” –Tiger Shaw, President and CEO, USSA
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw opened USSA Congress 2014 with a message about the importance of keeping a focus on elite athletic success while fostering growth through broader participation in the sport. In his address he centered his storylines and messages on the vital role that every athlete, coach, parent, judge, official and club plays in the overall success of the sport.
Shaw, along with Executive Vice President of Athletics Luke Bodensteiner, also participated in an hour-long Q&A session with a variety of conference attendees. Topics ranged from athlete education to funding and development.
A video of Shaw’s opening address can be found here.
A video of Shaw and Bodensteiner’s Q&A can be found here.
USSA Board of Directors
The USSA Board of Directors approved the addition of three new at-large seats during its annual meeting. Two persons were named to those seats (a third is unfilled), plus an additional five new members were seated. Additionally, longtime sport committee chairs Jon Engen and Bob Dart retired from their positions and were honored by the board for their service.
Full details on the new members can be found here.
The USSA’s concussion policy for members has been expanded to include all athletes, not just those under 18 years of age.
Additional information concerning USSA’s concussion policy can be found here:
FIS Council Nomination
The board also announced that it will nominate its Chairman, W. Dexter Paine, as a candidate for the International Ski Federation (FIS) Council at the 49th International Ski Congress, June 1-6, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. Paine has been chairman of the USSA, the highest elected position in U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, since 2006. He was president of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation, the fundraising arm of the team, from 2002-2006.
USSA Membership News
Heading into the 2015 member year, USSA Membership announced multiple new membership services, designed to provide broader opportunities for athletes and volunteers participating with USSA club programs.
Global Rescue, a longstanding partner of the USSA, provides the finest medical and security services from the world’s top experts and emergency evacuations from around the globe. As an extension of the current partnership, all USSA members now have access to the Global Travel Hotline Service, allowing for medical, legal and emergency assistance anywhere in the world, at no additional charge.
The USSA has also launched two new membership categories, a Club Participant category and a Club Volunteer category. The Club Participant membership is designed for young athletes who are training with a club program and may be competing in non-USSA competitions, but not yet participating in USSA events. It’s also perfect for club volunteers or parents who are starting to become active in support of club activities and events as well as forerunners. The new USSA Club Volunteer membership is designed for parents and club volunteers who undertake a leadership role in USSA clubs, divisions, regions, competitions and club training sessions. A background screening is included with this level of membership.
The USSA has worked in partnership with its insurance companies to provide a program to qualifying USSA member clubs that will lower cost, simplify participation and meet the requirements of local resorts and landowners. The newly enhanced USSA Club Liability Insurance program (CLIP) is now significantly less expensive than the previous CLIP program. It also provides a SafeSport program enhancement protecting kids and clubs. This innovative new program will go into effect July 1.
Details on these membership changes can be found at my.ussa.org.
During the Chairman’s Awards Dinner, Olympic and World Champion slalom winner Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO) was honored by the USSA with the 2014 Beck International Award, the organization’s highest athlete honor. The USSA also recognized former USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt with the Julius Blegen Award, its highest honor, for vision and service that led the USSA to become Best in the World. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail was named Club of the Year and also walked away with top honors in four individual sports.
The Coach of the Year award was given to men’s freeskiing Skogen Sprang. He also received Freeskiing Coach of the Year. Development Coach of the Year was awarded to Frank Kelble who manages the newly-created FIS National Training Group for women. The Westhaven Award, presented in recognition of service as a FIS Technical Delegate, was awarded to Gary Wright.
Luke Bodensteiner, Executive Vice President, Athletics
Expansion of the USSA development system has yielded strong results in athlete, coach, club and parent engagement. Over half of USSA member coaches are now certified, with snowboarding leading the way with over 90% of their member coaches having attained certification. A strong expansion in the number of coach development courses and certifications have both facilitated strong growth and validated the demand for coach training. Virtually all of USSA member coaches have received at least a basic level of education through the USSA’s Fast Start program.
The number of young athletes involved in USSA regional programming across all sports continues to grow, with over 5,000 athletes, 1,500 coaches and 700 parents involved in regional-level programming. Over 400 athletes have been invited to participate in higher-level talent ID and development projects.
The 2014 Club Excellence Conference celebrated record attendance with well over 100 participants from clubs around the country. During the conference, the USSA named ten ski and snowboard clubs as its first podium certified clubs as part of its new club development program. USSA Club Development offers clubs a basic certification level as well as Bronze, Silver or Gold levels of certification. The podium level certification process involves a rigorous self-study and peer review of best principles and practices for ski and snowboard clubs.
SPORT COMMITTEE REPORT
ALPINE – Chairman Darryl Landstrom
In its continuing effort to provide the best structure possible for athletes to achieve their Olympic dreams, a year ago the USSA enlisted the pro bono support of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company to help evaluate the way support is delivered to athletes and parents through USSA clubs and development programs nationwide. Based on McKinsey’s recommendations, the USSA established an affiliation agreement. This agreement aims to enhance and streamline governance and strengthen the value provided to the clubs and broader membership. Every alpine division must adopt the affiliation agreement with USSA by September 30, 2014.
The Alpine Sport Committee approved new FIS rules on helmet standards and GS gate panels.
The USSA will not adopt FIS ski length rules for USSA racing. FIS age athletes will still be able to compete in USSA events with existing equipment sizes. An updated equipment chart will be posted on the USSA website.
For the 2014-15 season, it is recommended that athletes U14 and older use helmets that meet the new FIS standards for all USSA GS, SG and DH competitions.
Beginning with the 2015-16 season, athletes U14 and older must use helmets that meet the new FIS standards. Also beginning in the 2014-15 season, USSA scored GS, SG and DH competitions must use currently FIS homologated GS panels.
An interview with Darryl Landstrom can be found here.
CROSS COUNTRY—Past Chairman Jon Engen
The success of the cross country national team has created an enthusiastic environment in the sport across the country. Both the men and women’s teams have seen top results.
An interview with Jon Engen can be found here.
FREESKIING—Abbi Nyberg, Freeskiing and Snowboarding Program Manager
Olympic Success Drives Committee
The success of freeskiing at the 2014 Olympics was a big highlight for the sport and is driving activity on the committee. Athletes Maddie Bowman and Tom Wallisch were named to the freeskiing subcommittee. The skicross subcommittee focused on development efforts and retaining athletes in the program.
Big Air Points List
The USSA Freestyle/Freeskiing Sport Committee worked to put together the necessary materials to take next steps to put big air on the map for future Olympics. New ranking lists for big air were established and will be similar to the lists used in slopestyle and halfpipe.
Development camps such as Project Gold Camp at Mammoth Mountain continue to be very successful. A lot of very talented young riders are attending. You can watch an edit from this year’s camp here.
An interview Abbi Nyberg can be found here.
FREESTYLE—Todd Schirman, Freestyle Director
Moguls Scoring System
The moguls scoring system will be moving from 50/25/25/ to 60/20/20. This FIS rule is being adopted into domestic competition and will go in to affect this coming season.
The Freestyle/Freeskiing Sport Committee also added Olympian Emily Cook to the committee as an athlete representative.
An interview Todd Schirman can be found here.
SKI JUMPING/NORDIC COMBINED — Joey Caterinichio, Nordic Program Manager
Collaboration Between Sport Groups
There was a high level of collaboration and productive discussions between USA Ski Jumping, Women’s Ski Jumping and USSA surrounding sport development and funding, both for jumping and nordic combined. There is a positive attitude from all parties looking forward.
Age Class Changes
The committee also approved changes to the U age classes that will be reflected in the competition guide this year. The U17 age class will change to U16 and U18, creating two age groups instead of one.
An interview with Joey Caterinichio can be found here.
SNOWBOARDING – Jon Casson, Snowboarding Sport Committee Chairman
New Working Groups
The Snowboarding Sport Committee formed two working groups for snowboardcross and alpine snowboarding. The working group for SBX will focus on transitioning athletes from the World Cup to the national team. The working group for alpine snowboarding will work on directing more development opportunities. The committee also discussed ideas surrounding halfpipe development and how building pipes could be more cost efficient for resorts.
An interview with Jon Casson can be found here.
CLUB EXCELLENCE CONFERENCE
The 2014 Club Excellence Conference had record attendance this year with participants totaling well over 100. Workshops focused on the “Best in the World: What Does It Mean?” theme, focusing on leadership and planning techniques, strategic partnerships, parent education, organizational performance and athlete development. A full recap of the 2014 Club Excellence Conference can be found here: http://my.ussa.org/aip/global/2014-club-excellence-conference
The USSA Club Development Program also announced its new club certification program, naming 10 ski and snowboard clubs to the Gold and Silver podium certified levels. More details on the new club certification can be found here: http://ussa.org/news/ussa-club-development-program-announces-new-podium-certified-clubs
As part of the Club Excellence Conference, over 40 coaches from across the country took part in a two-day alpine focused symposium on strength and conditioning held at the Center of Excellence in Park City. Coaches learned from and discussed the latest techniques and how they relate to juniors with the USSA Sport Science staff. Topics covered periodization, energy systems, nutrition, functional movement, warm up and recovery, and much more. http://my.ussa.org/news/ussa-host-alpine-strength-and-conditioning-symposium
A full recap of the 2014 Club Excellence Conference can be found here.
Logo courtesy United States Ski and Snowboard Association