U.S. Ski Team athlete Andrew Weibrecht trains at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain, one of the team's national training sites. (Troy Tully/U.S. Ski Team)
PARK CITY, UT (Dec. 28, 2016) – Aspiring ski and snowboard athletes will have expanded opportunities as a result of collaborative partnerships between the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and its leading clubs, academy programs, resorts and sport performance facilities. The USSA has announced a four-level program to provide both regional and training opportunities through co-branding with those programs.
“Our U.S. skiers and snowboarders have long benefitted from the efforts and generosity of clubs, academies, resorts and individuals across the nation,” said USSA President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “Collectively, these formal and informal partnerships have enabled the raising of our talented young athletes village by village, over many decades.”
To help further develop these relationships, the USSA has been evolving, defining and expanding partnership types, purposes and opportunities to co-brand with its clubs, academies and resorts. The relationships include regional and national development efforts providing unique on and off-snow training facilities and opportunities for club, regional and national teams. Among the new programs are initiatives to replicate elements of the USSA Center of Excellence at regional locations.
The USSA will be offering a national program of partnerships to its gold and silver level clubs, as well as ski and snowboard areas, in four different categories:
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Development Sites – On-snow training sites providing suitable venues to be used by the USSA for national development and regional athlete training, as well as being made available for nearby clubs.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Training Sites – On-snow training sites providing specialized venues suited for elite-level training and actively used by the national team.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team High Performance Centers – High performance, off-snow centers and facilities focused on developing regional and future national team athletes operated under USSA standards by USSA gold and silver clubs.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Certified Center of Excellence – High level partnership, including embedded USSA high performance staff, emulating the USSA’s national Center of Excellence in Park City, serving elite national team and regional athletes at locations such as regional medical and sport performance centers.
“These non-exclusive, broad partnerships are part of a long-term plan to facilitate the development and use of training venues and high performance training opportunities for national and regional athletes at both the elite and development levels,” said USSA Executive Vice President, Athletics Luke Bodensteiner. “We’re partnering with unique facilities and venues that provide the specialized training our athletes need and are accessible to a wide array of athletes. We will continue to build the program with partners capable of providing facilities and venues that will enhance our ability to train our elite teams and develop future elite athletes.”
The USSA began the process two years ago in a partnership with the Mittersill race and training center project, a further revitalization of the western side of Cannon Mountain in Franconia, NH that created super G, giant slalom and slalom regional opportunities. It was the beginning of simplifying and reorganizing some of USSA’s existing agreements to fall into these four categories.
The addition of the development site at Burke and the high performance center partnership with the new Ronnie Berlack Center at Burke Mountain Academy, named in honor of the late U.S. Ski Team athlete who was killed in an avalanche in Austria, was timed to celebrate Ronnie’s life and the opening ceremony of the center. The USSA is working with its gold and silver clubs to expand these partnerships throughout this season.
Current national team training site partners include the alpine team’s European training base in Soelden, Austria and the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain, CO. A unique partnership with California’s Mammoth Mountain provides training access for freeskiing and snowboarding athletes at its Unbound Terrain Park as does Utah’s Deer Valley Resort for freestyle skiing athletes. U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team training sites often provide highly valuable off-season and early season preparation opportunities.
“We are seeking unique opportunities to enhance training for our top athletes,” said Bodensteiner. “Our history of being able to use facilities such as Soelden, Copper, Deer Valley and Mammoth has had great impact on our athletes.”
One of the key components to the partnership plan is the extension of educational information and fostering of exchanges of best practices among the USSA’s top clubs.
“Through our work at the Center of Excellence, we have developed a remarkable catalog of data and education through the work we do with elite national team athletes,” said USSA High Performance Director Troy Taylor. “These partnerships will help us do two things: First, it’s a platform for us to share our information with clubs but, even more importantly, it’s designed to start an exchange of information from our very knowledgeable club programs with each other. Especially as we add more regional high performance centers, we look to them to actively engage with each other.”
The USSA has long been regarded as a leader in high performance programs within Olympic sport worldwide. The Utah-based sports organization made a commitment to sport science over two decades ago, leading up to the opening of the Center of Excellence in 2009 in Park City.
“Our Center of Excellence and overall commitment to high performance programs has been core to our athletic success,” said USSA President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “But for us to truly impact athletes across such a large country, including those in our development system, we need to develop a program regional centers and foster exchange of best practices across our top clubs in America.”
USSA HIGH PERFORMANCE PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMS
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Development Sites The Development Site program is focused on development athletes and regional programs. Participating regional sites provide development level and regional team athletes with access to on-snow facilities near their homes, fostering more efficient and cost-effective programs that will be more impactful for development athletes.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Training Sites The USSA’s national teams, across a wide range of distinct sports, have unique and specific high-level requirements for on-snow training. Training sites provide specific infrastructure for on-snow elite athlete training, with support in venue development, snowmaking and surface preparation. Training sites also provide access for national team athletes and coaches to camps and training at major national and regional resorts that can cater to the unique training needs of the national teams. The U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain in Colorado, European alpine training base in Soelden, Austria, southern hemisphere summer training center on Ohau, New Zealand, freestyle training at Utah’s Deer Valley Resort and specialized training at Mammoth Mountain’s Unbound Terrain Park in California are examples of training centers that are making a formidable difference for national team athletes.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team High Performance Center While the national Center of Excellence has fostered development of extraordinary high performance tools, the USSA sees club or academy regional high performance centers as key to creating a sharing of best practices across the country. High Performance Centers will focus on sport science and sports medicine at regional facilities managed by USSA gold or silver level clubs and meeting specific staffing and infrastructure requirements. The long-term success will be based on an exchange of best practices between centers around the country.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Certified Center of Excellence The USSA’s national Center of Excellence in Park City provides high performance services to national team athletes through high-level integration of sport science and sports medicine programs. The Certified Center of Excellence program will seek to establish centers in areas of high elite athlete populations, focusing on regional medical and sport performance centers capable of and committed to providing the national Center of Excellence experience at expanded locations through embedding U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team high performance staff and facilities with similar support as found in the national center.