Ski Racing’s Future
In this column at the end of last season I remarked
about crocuses just coming out — in some cases poking
up through the snow. Not so this year as the paucity of cold
and snow made this season a nightmare of race rescheduling and cancellations. No, this year the tulips are out, the
daffodils are past their prime and bikes have been spinning through the high country. Despite the lack of cold and
snow in much of the U.S., this year is one for the record
books: wins in every discipline USSA competitors entered,
accompanied by three overall titles.
In this issue Ski Racing once again presents our skier of
the year awards. With the theatrics this season, many of
the choices were forgone conclusions, but our older readers will remember occasions when certain awards were
not given because no athlete came close to qualifying.
That is certainly not the case today. From Lindsey Vonn’s
run at 2,000 points to Sarah Hendrickson’s overwhelming
success in the inaugural women’s ski jumping World Cup,
the wins just piled up, as did the accolades.
In this issue is a very important article on the first national
J3 skills camp, which was held in Park City the first week
in April. Sixty of the nation’s top J3 alpine athletes spent
five days undergoing skills evaluation and physical fitness
appraisal. They did some intense freeskiing at Snowbird
and participated in three races (GS, slalom and dual).
The camp was an impressive success, but some suspi-
cions were confirmed. Our juniors, as good as they are,
are strong event skiers but so-so freeskiers, which is not
where they should be. “Great skiers make great racers,”
says the USSA’s Lester Keller. “It doesn’t work the other
way around. Top skiers have to have a solid platform to
work off of; it is not there they hit that glass ceiling.” Citing
that parents, in particular, need to be educated about how
important fundamentals are to creating great racers, Keller
worries that we are “letting the vocal few drive the sport.”
The national camp demonstrated a need for a paradigm
shift in the way USSA approaches developing young ath-
letes to be great racers. Make sure to read the story by Eric
Williams in this issue. This is about the future.
Though the season is drawing to a close, there are some
very important meetings coming up. The Club Develop-
ment Program will be presented to approximately 150 club
executives and directors next month. Ski Racing editors
had a preview, and it’s an impressive program. If you have
the opportunity to get to Park City May 8 and 9, do so.
The FIS will hold its annual congress in late May near the
site of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang,
South Korea. While there are a number of items on the
council’s agenda, none may be more important than a de-
cision on how to work around the fiasco that ramrodded
new ski dimensions under the guise of safety without due
process. If the council does not act in a rational manner,
approximately 11,000 FIS-licensed skiers may be forced
onto new sized skis by 2014 (after the World Cup and Eu-
ropa Cup in 2013). Given that the science was artificially
contrived, it would be a travesty. At the World Cup level the
FIS — dictatorially and illogically— can make athletes use
barrel staves if they wish, but to demand all FIS licensees
change because of the egotistical whims of a few and the
profits of some is simply wrong and wrongheaded. Hope-
fully, oversized egos will not prevail and common sense
will triumph. The council should give alpine ski competitors
worldwide at least a modicum of coherent thought before
requiring the sport’s athletes to step back 30 years.
It has been our privilege to bring the publication to every
member of USSA throughout the season. Editor-in-Chief
Sarah Tuff, not only kept us focused, but also provided you
with great features, amazing pictures and pithy headlines.
Veteran editor Hank McKee, now in his umpteenth season,
followed the men’s World Cup circuit and kept us straight
statistically. Eric Williams, who shouldered much of the
website duties, covered the women’s alpine circuit among
other beats. Rand Paul reworked the layout for the digi-
tal magazine from his aerie in Evergreen, Colo. The result
was many more photos as well as a page design planned
for tablets. On the business side, Claire Abbe headed up
marketing partnerships with aid from Nancy Merrill, who
handled much of the behind-the-scenes detail. Former
downhiller and coach Adele Savaria kept the bills paid.
Bill McCollom entertained us all season with his Finish
Line column while also keeping us abreast of the masters
circuit. He also proved he could still run slalom by placing
third in his class at the Masters National Championships.
C.J. Feehan took over the NCAA beat and kept us abreast
of what college was ascending, and who was not. Her
Power Rankings attracted national attention. Dave Peszek
provided backshop technique and tools, and also wrote
about long-term athlete development and club programs.
Tim Reynolds wrote about the nordic scene. Emily Cook’s
Aerial View column gave readers a very inside perspective
on what it’s like to be a world-class athlete with the trials
and tribulations as well as the great moments.
Camps will be starting up next month and going through
the summer. Bachelor, Mount Hood and Whistler are load-
ed with snow and the lanes will be full of aspiring athletes
as well as veterans. If you are traveling anywhere to snow
make sure to contact Global Rescue. No one wants to
need their service but if you have to, it is unsurpassed and
for the student price, it is a real deal.
As has been the case over the past decade Ski Racing
will be continually updating our website through the next
few months at skiracing.com. Check us out regularly to
stay ahead of what is going on in the world of ski sport.
Editors will be covering the USSA meetings in May as well
as the FIS Congress. Look for summertime videos and fol-
low what is going on as training resumes.
Our regular magazine returns in the fall. Keep
making those perfect turns and have a great
summer! — G.B. Jr.
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING &
GARY BLACK JR.
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