Bad News, Good News
If you read nothing else in this issue, read senior editor Hank McKee’s interview
with U.S. head men’s coach Sasha Rearick. The piece addresses what the new FIS
ski-rule changes mean for alpine skiing’s future, our young racers and coaches.
While the rule change for J1s and J2s won’t happen until the 2013–2014 season, ac-
cording to Rearick coaches should make the changeover as soon as possible, perhaps
as early as next season. The change will not only be profound athletically but will have
an extreme economic impact on USSA kids as well. The estimated changeover cost
at today’s prices will set USSA juniors back an estimated $8 million (more likely $10
million). For sure, this figure is elevated as juniors have to buy new skis as they grow,
but normally they can use old skis and just add new ones as need be. Too bad senior
USSA officials didn’t engage heavily on this subject 18 months ago when the FIS
embarked on their trumped-up scientific study. As for the FIS, cost is no concern and
enabling rules that could drive kids away from alpine sport apparently doesn’t matter
to their officials either.
Ted Ligety, who has been the most outspoken of the athletes about the decision, con-
tinues to question the motivation and the lack of support by USSA. It is a legitimate
question. See Ski Racing’s video of Ligety discussing his feelings on this page. The
FIS is expected to announce they are putting the changes in stone in the next several
days. It is a shameful travesty manifested on the excuse of safety. Both the FIS and
USSA should be ashamed and embarrassed.
In brighter news, the U.S. vaulted to the top of the winter sports scene with six victories
and two second-place finishes in one stunning weekend. What fun it was, especially
for the women’s cross country and jumping teams where teenager Sarah Hendrickson
will be forever in the record books for winning the inaugural women’s World Cup jump-
ing contest. Kikkan Randall took the sprint victory in Duesseldorf and then combined
with teammate Sadie Bjornsen to take second in the team event, the highest relay fin-
ish in the team’s history.
As for the alpine team, what is there to say? Lindsey Vonn completely silenced those
who whispered that her marital situation would distract her from competition. How
wrong they were. With her three wins in Lake Louise — the downhill wins by almost
unprecedented margins — Vonn found herself collecting 422 points out of a possible
600. She now has 11 wins in the Canadian resort, a number that will not be surpassed
anytime soon. In the Beaver Creek downhill, it was vintage, on-the-edge Bode Miller
who collected the gold with a mind-blowing, all-or-crash, line down one of the toughest
tests on the circuit. Simply put, even for Bode, it was a brilliant effort.
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING &
GARY BLACK JR.
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Ted Ligety holds up the winning GS skis that will soon be a thing of the past.