The Truth Behind the Titles
USSA chief Bill Marolt opens up on success and development By Gary Black Jr.
Fifteen years ago, making the flip- 30 in a tech event was reason to cheer for the U.S.
This year, USSA athletes brought home 14 crystal globes, three of them overall titles.
While Bill Marolt, USSA’s president and CEO, took over the destitute and failing organization 15
years ago, he gives credit for the sea change to the skiers themselves.
“At the heart of our success, it is the athletes,” he says.
The change began when USSA, on Marolt’s insistence, adopted the slogan, “Best in the
“Everybody laughed when we started using it,” Marolt says with a smile, “but over the years it has
become the standard we, at USSA, all judge ourselves against.”
It shows. There is no question USSA is athletically the strongest national governing body in winter
sports today. With top mogul skiers, snowboard pipe competitors, nordic and alpine stars, no other
federation can match the breadth of USSA today. Indeed, in various world junior championships
this season, U.S. athletes took medals in alpine, snowboarding, slopestyle, freeskiing and ski
jumping, amassing 12 medals in all, including a half-dozen golds.
Marolt is quick to point out that providing athletes with “what they need to perform at the highest
level” is critical. “It takes all sorts of people from coaches, sports science staff, marketing and
the foundation staff, all doing their job to make it happen,” he says. “We are fortunate to have
tremendous leadership at the program-director level.”
Despite the amazing results this season, Marolt is very aware of needs for the future. “Our
challenge is that we do not get to recruit,” he says, “We [the sports disciplines of USSA] have to
develop our athletes. It all begins with parents and clubs.”
To help meet the athletic needs of the future, USSA is launching the Club Development Program,
a far-reaching effort that looks at four critical factors needed by every club: leadership, operations,
program and performance. The program will be launched in May.
“Our challenge is to find remarkable athletes who can do what needs to be done,” Marolt says,
“and provide the training and support they need.”
But everything comes down to funding. With no governmental support for the national governing
body, there is never enough dollars to cover all the needs, Marolt points out. “We have to take
care of our elite athletes,” he says firmly. “Athletes like Kikkan [Randall], Ted [Ligety], Hannah
[Kearney], Lindsey [Vonn] and Kelly [Clark] are proven champions. They need to have everything
we can provide.”
“After every Olympics we talk about development,” says Marolt. “We have great training facilities:
Park City, Copper and the Center of Excellence. This time we are going to do it by building partners
with our clubs and parents. We have to — we have a lot of rivalry from hockey, soccer and other
sports for kids. Our programs need to compete for these kids.”
As Marolt watched 17-year-old slalom sensation Mikaela Shiffrin crush her competition in the
U.S. Alpine Championships, one could just see him thinking, “How do we develop more of these
Like “Best in the World,” it is not a question of if development will ramp up. It is, and it has. As
Marolt knows, the Sochi Olympic Winter Games around the corner and the Games in Pyeongchang,
South Korea, are looming not far down the road. He knows too well that it is today’s juniors who
will be shouldering the nation’s fortunes in 2018.
Bill Marolt emulates his title-winning athletes at Squaw Valley’s ProAm race on April 7.