How Do You Spell Development?
For the USSA, it’s JWC, U23, SCAN, OPA.
By Tim Reynolds
Noah Hoffman tackles the U23 15K.
For nearly a decade, development pipelines have been a cornerstone of USSA’s nordic programs. And they illustrate, step by step,
how young skiers move through the regional and national programs
and competition system to ultimately achieve international success
and — ideally — Olympic medals.
Last May, however, after the USSA Congress, the competition pipeline received a makeover with a slightly more international flavor.
“Talking to coaches throughout the regions last spring about how to
improve our performance as a nation, time after time, in every region,
coaches feel that their best athletes need more exposure to higher
European level racing,” U.S. Ski Team head coach Chris Grover explained this past fall.
While the USST sends squads each year to the JI Scandinavian Cup
(SCAN), Junior World Championships (JWC) and Under- 23 World
Championships (U23), according to Grover these competitions “are
just the tip of the iceberg.”
This year, in conjunction with the National Cross Country Ski Education Foundation (NCCSEF), the USST has upped the ante overseas
by pulling all domestic support for USST athletes and instead funding
three additional tours in Europe for top American skiers: one trip this
past November to FIS Openers in Finland, a short stint at Scandinavian Cups after the combined JWC/U23s, and a spring tour to the Al-pen Cup (OPA) Finals in March in Slovenia and Austria.
And the extra time in Europe is paying dividends already.
USST Continental Cup Team member Noah Hoffman, who started
the 2010-11 season off in Europe for the first time, delivered the top