are a Good Thing
With every New Year there is always a feeling of optimism. Expectations run high, and nowhere is the
anticipation more noticeable than at junior races. Just go to a J4 and J5 race and watch the kids’ faces.
Sure, there are disappointments, but 10 minutes after the race, the realities of the just-completed event
have gone away. The young racers are laughing, playing and skiing. In many ways, this is the U.S. Ski
and Snowboard Association (USSA) at its best. Even better, it appears the national governing body
wants to find a way to keep fun in the sport with less intensity as kids move into older age brackets.
There is evidence that USSA is looking at ways to
better integrate elite level alpine skiing with the realities of sport in general.
USSA management is well aware of the fallout that
occurs as alpine athletes grow older, particularly
when they reach the J2 level (ages 15–16). This is
when alpine racing becomes both expensive and
stressful, thanks to the cost of travel and the introduction of full-on speed events. Fortunately, USSA
is recognizing that there are more late bloomers in
athletics than has traditionally been expected. U.S.
Ski Team star Ted Ligety is an example of an individual who did not start to generate solid results
until he was a second-year J1. Reviewing athletic
progression in alpine skiing, USSA, at the direction
of President Bill Marolt and Athletic Director Luke
Bodensteiner, have relaxed the 2010–2011 criteria
for elite athlete development to allow athletes whose
skills develop later a better chance to be recognized.
Better yet, according to National Development
Director Walt Evans, USSA is asking that coaches
and programs pay particular attention to “fitness,
fun and fundamentals” in the younger age brackets
from J5 through J3.
“We are not challenging youngsters by putting
them in the gates or over racing them,” Evans says. “Gates should not be babysitters. We want to have
kids develop a passion for skiing the mountain.”
These are welcome words as Ski Racing has long seen too much emphasis on narrowing candidates
to the elite level too early. Expense, however, remains a major concern, particularly in the current eco-
nomic environment. But that is an issue for another day.
With this issue, Ski Racing editors are really gearing up for the heart of the season. January is critical
and is an indicator of how World Cup athletes will do at the Vancouver Games. Freestylers will get their
day in the sun at Deer Valley. In alpine, athletes will be competing in the classic events, and much of
their season’s tale will be told this month.
The nordic combined team continues to show its prowess, and Johnny Spillane gave Peter Graves
something to write about when he garnered his first World Cup win; Graves also writes about how
Andy Newell continues to impress with his Tour de Ski results. Associate Editor Shauna Farnell is in
Europe following the women’s alpine World Cup. She reports on the Lienz and Zagreb races (pages 18-
19 and 22-25) in this issue. Look for her videos both in the issue and on the Ski Racing website. Hank
McKee reports on Bormio where the U.S. team was almost a no-show. Eric Williams takes a look at
who will be skiing at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games from the “no snow” countries, and reports on
early ski cross events. Bryce Hubner is following the college scene and tells us who is really challenging
for the NCAA title as the carnival season opens. Bill McCollom reports on the latest masters events and,
in Finish Line, regales us with why today seems like yesterday — or does it?
Don’t forget to go to the Ski Racing website ( skiracing.com). The editors are adding videos and bringing you the news as it happens. January promises to be exciting. Keep the site bookmarked as this
month’s results will tell who gets to start in Vancouver. It is going to be a great couple of weeks. — G.B. Jr.
Fitness, fun and fundamentals.
PE TER Q. GRAVES
SALES AND MARKETING
GARY BLACK JR.
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