PARK CITY — As they walked through the sparkling
lobby of the still shiny-new Center of Excellence, a
group of some 60 top-ranked 13 and 14-year-olds
looked upward toward the 30-foot-tall image of Lindsey Vonn kissing her latest overall World Cup crystal
globe. A dozen flat-screen TVs flashed images of Julia Mancuso racing toward one of her three Olympic
medals. In the gym, Ted Ligety himself was pumping
out leg presses before their very eyes.
The J3 racers, selected to take part in the inaugural
U16 National Assessment Project based on their
results in this season’s Junior Championships, don’t
have their photos on the walls or trophies in the
cabinets of the USST headquarters yet. But for one
week, from April 1 to 6, they were treated and trained
like the Vonns and Millers they dream to become.
The racers worked out with the U.S. A-Team’s trainers,
received tutoring by World Cup coaches, learned
about nutrition from the team’s chef and picked the
brain of a renowned sports psychologist.
According to one of the project’s masterminds —
USSA western alpine development director and sport
psychology program coordinator Lester Keller — the
U.S. has needed a camp like this for a while.
“For a long time, national team coaches have been
commenting on the fact that they have athletes who
come to them through race results and world rank that
have deficiencies, and they thought it would be a good
idea if their skiers skied better earlier,” said Keller. “A
Invitees see how they measure up at he bottom of the GS course
THE FIRST-EVER USSA U16 ASSESSMENT PROJECT BRINGS
TOGETHER THE COUNTRY’S TOP YOUNG RACERS TO DETERMINE
THE FUTURE OF U.S. SKI RACING BY ERIC WILLIAMS AND DAVE PESZEK