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Countdown to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Minneapolis Back on World Cup XC Schedule; Bend Camp Wraps Up

By Tom Horrocks
June, 3 2021
Alayna and Jessie
Minnesota athletes Alayna Sonnesyn and Jessie Diggins are very much looking forward to the opportunity to compete on home soil at Theodore Wirth Park in February of 2024. (Jessie Diggins - Instagram)

Minneapolis is back on the FIS Cross Country World Cup schedule for the 2023-24 season.

Following last year’s disappointing cancellation of the first U.S. Cross Country World Cup in 20 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Loppet Foundation, along with the American Birkebeiner, is on the long-term planning calendar for a U.S. World Cup swing following three days of racing north of the border at Canmore, Alberta, in February 2024.

Theodore Wirth Park is on the long-term calendar to host three days of racing from February 16-18, 2024 followed by two days of racing to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the American Birkebeiner on February 22 and 24. The Canmore events are on the long-term calendar for February 9-11, 2024.

“We are really excited to have the USA back on the World Cup calendar for 2024,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Cross Country Director Chris Grover. “After coming so close in 2019, the Loppet Foundation is hungry to host these races, and the creative bid from the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation makes for a great package of racing in the U.S. and Canada.”

FIS released the long-term planning calendars through the 2024-25 season in order to optimize planning, travel schedules and facilitate the needs of athletes, and teams as well as other stakeholders. The long-term calendar frame was established to provide a consistent schedule beginning the last weekend of November and ending the third weekend of March annually. The long-term planning schedule consists of five blocks of racing, including free weekends, and allows for organizing nations and venues will be selected in order to reduce travels and optimize logistics.
 

2021-22 World Cup Schedule

The 2021-22 FIS Cross Country World Cup schedule was also released this week, kicking off Nov. 26-28 in Ruka, Finland. The schedule includes the FIS Tour de Ski, which was adapted to feature six races over eight days - instead of the traditional eight races over 10 days - in order to meet the needs of athletes as they focus on the Olympic Winter Games, Feb. 4-20 in Beijing. However, the 2021-22 schedule is still quite busy with more than 30 races scheduled at 14 venues throughout central Europe, Scandinavia and Russia.

“In terms of the 21-22 calendar, it is really full,” Grover said. “It will be a challenge for top athletes to compete everywhere. Luckily, the FIS Council approved the long-term calendar framework beginning in 22-23, which provides a model that is more sustainable and encourages the top athletes to participate in the full World Cup calendar.”

An additional competition day was added to the 2021-22 season in Falun, Sweden, March 13 with two mixed events on the same day - a 4x5k mixed relay, and a mixed team sprint. Due to the late date on the schedule, athletes will have to decide which event to participate. Also, the mixed events will not count toward the athletes overall World Cup points.

“The mixed team events will be really fun,” Grover added. “I’m excited to put together teams for these events and get as many athletes racing as possible.”
 

Bend Camp A Huge Success

The Davis U.S. Cross Country Ski Team just wrapped up a two week training camp in Bend, Oregon, with on-snow training at Mt. Bachelor. It was the first training camp in more than 18 months, and with the 2022 Olympic Winter Games taking place at an elevation above 1,500 meters, served as the first of three altitude prep camps for the U.S. Team.

The team received the red carpet treatment from Sue Foster, nordic ski center director at Mt. Bachelor, and her staff at Mt. Bachelor to ensure the athletes had a successful camp, which included many kilometers of beautifully groomed skiing each day.

“The Bend camp was very productive,” Grover said. “We were really impressed by the technical progress of each of the athletes, and their willingness to learn from each other and share knowledge openly.”

The camp provided returning athletes a chance to meet the lone new member of the team, Zanden McMullen, who joined the Development Team after posting some very impressive results last season, including a fifth-place finish at the 2021 FIS Junior World Championships.

“We also had incredible support from the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Sport Science and Sports Medicine Team,” Grover added. “We are so thankful to have the team vaccinated and be running training camps again after a year and a half with no preparation camps.”

The next camp is scheduled for July 24 through August 8 on the Eagle Glacier in Alaska. The final prep camp will take place in Park City, Utah, October 4-18.

 

Bower Named U.S. Ski & Snowboard Director of High Performance

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
June, 2 2021
U.S. Ski & Snowboard

U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced today the naming of Gillian Bower as the organization's Director of High Performance. As Director of High Performance, Bower will lead more than 30 full-time staff and hundreds of volunteers in the areas of sport science, including athletic development coaches, clinical and sports psychologists, dietitians and data scientists; sports medicine, including certified athletic trainers, physical therapists, doctors and allied health professionals; as well as coaches and club educators, to support U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s national teams and athletes. 

Bower is a Canadian-trained physiotherapist with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Montana and comes into the role with over 15 years of experience at the organization. She has served as a senior clinical specialist, the lead physical therapist, and most recently, the director of sports medicine. 

Bower was instrumental in developing and implementing a COVID-19 plan that ensured athletes remained safe throughout training and competition. Over the last year, she conducted roughly 15,000 tests and with a positivity rate of less than 0.5%. Her work resulted in being named the 2021 Service Provider of the Year by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Bower brings a passion for combining true integrations of sports medicine, athletic development, sport science, coaching, nutrition, psychology and data integration to drive athlete success. 

“I am excited to see Gillian take this critical position heading High Performance,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “Gillian has demonstrated her leadership throughout her years with the team, but this past year she excelled in managing our COVID-19 challenges on top of her normal duties. This meant an extraordinary increase in administrative and complex work for Gillian and her teammates in Medical and High Performance as those departments navigated this new world with skill and resilience. Long hours and endless challenges were the norm. Please welcome Gillian as our new Director of High Performance.”

“Gillian was the best possible choice for the position,” said her predecessor Troy Taylor. “I could not be happier with the selection and there is certainly no one more qualified or respected by athletes and staff alike. I am honored and feel immense personal satisfaction that the organization felt there was such an amazing candidate pool internally at U.S. Ski & Snowboard. I wish her the best of luck as she leads a talented team into the 2021-22 season and beyond.”

Bower replaces Taylor who was in the position of Director of High Performance for the past six years

“Troy has been an amazing mentor and I know I have some big shoes to fill,” said Bower. “I’m forever grateful for what he’s done for me and our organization. I’m excited to pick up where he left off and I look forward to the upcoming Olympic season. Our high performance team has a strong culture in place and an immense knowledge base. I am proud to be part of the continued growth and success within our department and at the organization as a whole.”

Ritchie and Jemison 2021 Eastern Ski Writers Golden Ski Award Winners

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
June, 1 2021
Ben Ritchie World Champs
Ben Ritchie, shown here in action at the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships slalom on February 21, 2021, in Cortina d'Ampezzo Italy, has been chosen as the 2021 winner of the Eastern Ski Writers Golden Ski Award for the fourth time. (Agence Zoom/Getty Images - Alexis Boichard)

Ava Sunshine Jemison from Edwards, Colo., and Burke Mountain Academy and Ben Ritchie from Waitsfield, Vt. and Green Mountain Valley School have been chosen as the 2021 winners of the Eastern Ski Writers Golden Ski Award.

Each season the New England Ski Museum presents this award to the most promising male and female junior alpine racers in the Eastern U.S. The awards will be presented at a dinner reception on November 13, 2021, at The Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, N.H.

Ava Sunshine Jemison
Ava, from Edwards, Colo., and Burke Mountain Academy, posted great results during this challenging Covid-19 pandemic season earning her a nomination for the 2021/2022 U.S. Ski Team’s Development Team. It all started with a third-place finish in slalom at Berchtesgaden-Jenner, Germany, and second and third-place finishes in both giant slalom races at Passo San Pellegrino, Italy. She continued by earning third place in alpine combined at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. She then returned home to compete in the U.S. Nationals at Aspen, Colo. where she was second among juniors and fourth overall in the downhill. This was an amazing performance as it was her first-ever downhill. Ava continued with a third-place overall in the alpine combined.

Ben Ritchie 
This is Ben’s fourth Golden Ski Award. He navigated this very stressful, challenging Covid-19 season with great results starting with a Europa Cup victory in slalom at Meiringen Hasliberg, Switzerland, followed by the slalom gold medal at the prestigious World Juniors in Bansko, Bulgaria. He snagged himself a top-15 finish at his first FIS Ski World Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, landing in 13th in the slalom. Ben then continued to win at the U.S. Nationals in Aspen, Colo. in slalom to take home the title. He has been nominated for the 2021-22 U.S. Ski Team B Team.

The Golden Ski Award has been presented to the top junior male and female skiers in the East since 1969, the year after the modern World Cup circuit started. Many of the Golden Ski winners have gone on to FIS Ski World Cup and Olympic gold as well. In 1975, the Golden Ski was "lost." In 2007, the New England Ski Museum was given some artifacts, and in that donation was the original Golden Ski. ESWA revitalized the honor, “The Golden Ski Award is the oldest honor given to junior alpine ski racers that exists today,” says Jim Gregory, Chair, of the New England Ski Museum’s Golden Ski Award Committee. “We are proud this year to honor Ava Sunshine Jemison and four-time winner, Ben Ritchie, two extraordinary athletes. We look forward to watching them pursue their goals and set the bar even higher in the sport we all love so much.”

Golden Ski Award Winners:
1969: Tyler Palmer, Karen Middleton
1970: Charles Bent, Karen Middleton
1971: Rod Taylor, Judy McNealus
1972: Laurent Gaudin, Jody Palmer 
1973: Jerry McNealus, No female winner
1974: No award
1975: Scott Light, Holly Flanders
1976-2007: Award Lost
2008: Bump Heldman, Julia Ford
2009: Nolan Kasper, Julia Ford
2010: Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Julia Ford
2011: Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Mikaela Shiffrin
2012: Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Mikaela Shiffrin
2013: Kieffer Christianson, Mikaela Shiffrin
2014: Sam Morse, Alice Merryweather
2015: Drew Duffy, Nina O’Brien
2016: Ben Ritchie, Cecily Decker
2017: George Steffey, Patricia Mangan
2018: Jimmy Krupka, Abigail Jewett
2019: Ben Ritchie, Claire Thomas
2020: Ben Ritchie, Zoe Zimmermann

Release courtesy of Jim Gregory, Chair: Eastern Ski Writers Golden Ski Award
Presented by the New England Ski Museum

Johnson Featured in FIS Behind the Scenes Video

By Megan Harrod
May, 28 2021
Breezy Johnson FIS Behind the Scenes
Olympian Breezy Johnson, shown here at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's downhill training on December 17, 2020, in Val d'Isere France, had a breakout season, grabbing four World Cup podiums in downhill. (Agence Zoom/Getty Images - Michel Cottin)

“World Cup is my home, this is where I’ve always wanted to ski!“ Olympian Breezy Johnson said in a recent International Ski Federation (FIS) behind-the-scenes video. 

Breezy wears the motto “Like the Wind” on her helmet, and she went to another level this season becoming the U.S. downhill star as she grabbed four FIS Ski World Cup podiums.
 

Merryweather Speaks Candidly About Mental Health And Battle With Anorexia

By Megan Harrod
May, 28 2021
Alice Merryweather TEAM USA
Alice Merryweather, shown here competing in the FIS Ski World Cup downhill at Zauchensee Altenmarkt, Austria on January 11, 2020, recently opened up to Team USA about her battle with anorexia. (AFP via Getty Images - Joe Klamar)

In a piece for Team USA for Mental Health Awareness month, Olympian Alice Merryweather opened up and spoke candidly about her battle with anorexia this past year. 

She shared, 

COVID-19 has affected sports in many ways throughout the past year. Not only has COVID threatened our physical wellbeing, but it has also placed more strain on everyone’s mental health. 

I’m no stranger to this myself; in the spring of 2020, early into the pandemic lockdown, my mental health took a deep dive. I was struggling to find housing for the summer, taking a hefty course load remotely through Dartmouth College, and battling a severe fear of complacency as spring training ramped up. This perfect stress-storm, abetted by the uncertainty of lockdown and the new virus, was the final blow that sent me deep into my own mental health crisis: a battle with anorexia nervosa.

Though I wasn’t formally diagnosed until October 2020, I began significantly restricting my intake sometime in March. In each of the three or four years prior, I would end my race season thinking some version of this to myself: “you should really go on a diet. All that European hotel food has been making you fat, and you don’t even look like an athlete anymore.”

Last spring, I hit a new low. I resented myself from a performance standpoint for not meeting my goals. Physically, I believed I had overeaten every day and couldn’t even bring myself to look in a mirror. Mentally, I felt disappointed, upset, and like I no longer controlled my own destiny. Unintentionally, my eating disorder became my way back to some semblance of control (or so I thought).

At the end of the piece, Merryweather gave advice for those struggling to seek help. "Asking for help doesn’t make someone weak, but rather it makes them courageous enough to admit their vulnerabilities and try to improve...I encourage anyone who is struggling to talk to someone, whether they’re a friend or family member or a professional. It might be the scariest thing you do, but it also might end up being the best."

Merryweather recently returned to the mountain for on-snow training with her teammates at official training site Mammoth Mountain, in California. She has shared that she feels more joy than ever for the sport, and she's looking forward to the upcoming season. 

Read the full piece on TeamUSA.org

Moguls Wraps First 2021-22 Prep Camp at Snowbird

By Lara Carlton
May, 25 2021
Kasey Hogg
Kasey Hogg trains at Snowbird, Utah, during the U.S. Freestyle Mogul Ski Team's first prep camp of the 2021-22 season. (Nick Page - U.S. Freestyle Mogul Ski Team)

The U.S. Freestyle Mogul Ski Team was back in bumpin’ action, having just wrapped their first prep camp of the 2021-22 Olympic season at Snowbird, Utah. 

Mogul skiers nominated to the 2021-22 Freestyle Ski Team took advantage of the #LongestSeasonInUtah to get back to skiing and jumping, and the camp marked the first time the group came together following the end of their competitive season in March. Quintessential Utah bluebird spring days made for great conditions and athletes’ spirits were high during their 11 days on snow. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kai (@_kaiowens)

“We used this camp to focus on the things that will make the biggest difference this coming season,” explained Head Mogul Coach Matt Gnoza. Ensuring athletes have “sticky” skills for when it counts is top of mind when preparing for the world’s biggest ski stage. When asked if this prep season is different from any other heading directly into the Olympic Winter Games, Gnoza says yes and no. “The goal of skiing your best and pushing your limits remains the same. However, the planning and progression towards peak performance at the Olympics is definitely there for both staff and athletes.”

Snowbird provided an excellent opportunity for athletes to work on their specific needs. Those focused on jumping got in over 100 jumps on snow, and those focused on skiing had a 235-meter mogul line. “We got lots of quality work in,” commented Gnoza. 

“My focus for this camp was mainly skiing, working fundamentals and starting to build on new skills,” said Nick Page. “I also spent a fair amount of time jumping. Working to perfect my cork 7 grab, cork 10, and cork 14.”

Snowbird has a rich history of freestyle skiing and partners with local club Wasatch Freestyle to keep that tradition alive. However, it was the first time since the early 2000s that the national team trained at the resort in the month of May. Cooperation with Wasatch Freestyle enabled up-and-coming mogul skiers to train alongside national team athletes and provided an important exchange for developing the talent pipeline in the sport.  

“Getting to be back at Snowbird was great,” said Page, who skied with Wasatch Freestyle before making the U.S. Ski Team. “Jake, Seth, and the entire mountain ops team went above and beyond for us. It means so much to have support from ski areas who really believe in us and want to provide the best resources for us to succeed. Going into any season, but an Olympic season especially, we need every edge and advantage we can get our hands on. Snowbird really stepped up to make that happen; they put together a great venue with help from the U.S. Ski Team and Wasatch Freestyle. It allowed us to get a lot accomplished in a very important window of opportunity. 

“The partnership and cooperation from Snowbird was amazing,” said Gnoza. “They built us a five-line, 235-meter course, along with a jump site, which provided athletes the ability to push their limits. Big thanks to Wasatch Freestyle, who helped build and maintain the course. It’s always great for our team to ski with young talent.” Snowbird was even gracious enough to open the resort for two days just for training, an experience not lost on the athletes or staff.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Morgan (@morganschild)

“This prep season is really exciting,” added Page. “There’s a lot of work to do and I’m really excited to get everything tightened and cleaned up by the time the competition season comes around. Getting back on the water ramps is something I always enjoy — and getting to travel more this summer will be great in making progress to take into next winter.”

The 2021-22 prep season continues for moguls at Freestyle’s summer home at Official Training Site Utah Olympic Park for the first water ramp camp of the summer beginning May 31. 


To support the U.S. Freestyle Mogul Ski Team, please click here for more information.

Sport Leader Darryl Landstrom Honored With Julius Blegen Award

By Tom Kelly
May, 21 2021
Darryl Landstrom

Minnesota sport leader Darryl Landstrom, a long-time regional and national volunteer sport leader, was honored by U.S. Ski & Snowboard with its highest honor - the Julius Blegen Award. Landstrom, who grew up as a ski jumper and nordic combined skier in Duluth’s Chester Park Ski Club, found his pathway as an alpine ski racing leader, first in Central Division and now chair of the national Alpine Sport Committee.

Landstrom became the 75th recipient of the Julius Blegen Award dating back to 1946. The award recognizes established history of distinguished service and a lasting contribution to U.S. Ski & Snowboard and its membership. It is named in honor of Julius Blegen, a key leader of the National Ski Association in the 1930s.

He was recognized Friday, May 21 during the virtual annual meeting of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard board of directors.

“Darryl has been a powerful and unique leader, volunteering his time for decades to bring people together behind the scenes in our sports,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chairman Kipp Nelson. “He has been a true governance pioneer for our organization, always able to align everyone around a common direction to move the sport forward.”

When an injury sidelined Landstrom from competition at the age of 21, he turned his attention to volunteering, primarily in support of junior alpine ski racing in the then U.S. Ski Association’s Central Division. His leadership skills and motivation to help youth ultimately saw him lead alpine sport committees in Central Division, Rocky/Central Region and today as the national Alpine Sport Committee chair and a member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Board of Directors.

His work in the midwest was pivotal in helping to increase the international ski racing presence in the Central Division. He was instrumental in scheduling the first night FIS slalom at Boyne Mountain, Mich. as well as securing giant slalom course homologation at Lutsen Mountain, Minn., now a perennial stop on the spring FIS racing tour in the USA.

Landstrom has also served an important role within collegiate ski racing. He has served as a board member of the U.S. Collegiate ski Association as well as chair of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Collegiate Subcommittee and as the U.S. representative to the International Ski Federation’s University Racers Subcommittee.

Along with his service to alpine ski racing, Landstrom has also volunteered to help with myriad other sports organizations. Among them are USA Nordic, the national leadership organization for ski jumping and nordic combined, the Minneapolis-based Loppet Foundation, a multi-sport program known for its cross country skiing programs, and the Minneapolis Ski Club, a leading ski jumping club in the Twin Cities.

Landstrom’s positive impact on the sport has stemmed from his ability to bring people together on issues and create synergies - known as an approachable, transparent and athlete-centric leader. He was instrumental following a 2013 McKinsey study in aligning division, regional and national sport leaders to create affiliation agreements and to update the U.S. Ski & Snowboard bylaws. He continued that work to restructure the governance of the Alpine Sport Committee, creating a more impactful governing body.

“I'm both honored and humbled,” said Landstrom on receiving the award. “When I consider past recipients, it is hard to imagine being part of this legacy group.” He cited numerous role models including past Blegen recipients Anna McIntyre, who nominated him, former board chair Bill Slattery, his longtime friend the late Bob Dart and last year’s recipient Paine. “They have been role models for me and I hope that I can be the same for future Blegen Award recipients.”

Landstrom credits his parents’ support and the friendships he gained with other 10-year-olds as a motivating factor for his initial pathway into the sport. And the ongoing friendships with peers have kept him going over decades. “The friendships during my tenure with U.S. Ski & Snowboard are enormous and invaluable,” he said. “I admire the commitment and transparency of staff, the alpine community and the other disciplines with which I continue to engage.”

In addition to his governance work, Landstrom has spent plenty of time on the snow from packing the landing hill on ski jumps, hauling gunny sacks of snow up scaffolding, working as a gate judge and referee, and even a stint as timer and announcer for divisional alpine races.

This past year Landstrom took on leadership of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s COVID Commission, developing policies and principles which helped guide the organization through a challenging season.

Today, the Duluth native lives in Wayzata, where he is a Twin Cities businessman. He splits time with his mountain home in Winter Park, Colo., and remains a very active skier himself, as well as following the career of his U16 alpine ski racing grandson. He was nominated for the award by Anna McIntyre, the 1996 recipient of the Blegen Award. 

JULIUS BLEGEN AWARD HONOREES

  • 1946 Roger Langley
  • 1947 Arthur J. Barth
  • 1948 Fred McNeil
  • 1949 John Hostvedt
  • 1950 Fred C. Bellmar
  • 1951 Douglas M. Burckett
  • 1952 F.C. Koziol
  • 1953 Albert E. Sigal
  • 1954 Harold A. Grinden
  • 1955 Burton H. Boyum
  • 1956 John B. Carson
  • 1957 Olav Ulland
  • 1958 T. Lee McCracken
  • 1959 Robert C. Johnstone
  • 1960 Dr. Amos R. 'Bud' Little and Malcolm McLane
  • 1961 Sepp Ruschp
  • 1962 J. Stanley Mullin
  • 1963 Ralph A. 'Doc' DesRoches
  • 1964 Robert Beattie
  • 1965 Merritt H. Stiles
  • 1966 Evelyn Masbruch
  • 1967 C. Allison Merrill
  • 1968 Willy J. Schaeffler
  • 1969 William Berry
  • 1970 Earl D. Walters
  • 1971 Gustav Raaum
  • 1972 James Balfanz
  • 1973 Charles T. Gibson
  • 1974 Sven Wiik
  • 1975 Byron Nishkian
  • 1976 Dr. J. Leland Sosman
  • 1977 Gloria Chadwick
  • 1978 Richard Goetzman
  • 1979 Graham Anderson
  • 1980 Bill Beck
  • 1981 Not awarded
  • 1982 Hank Tauber
  • 1983 Robert Thomson
  • 1984 Ed Hammerle
  • 1985 Robert Oden
  • 1986 Bill Slattery
  • 1987 Jim Page
  • 1988 Whiting Willauer
  • 1989 James H. “Red” Carruthers
  • 1990 Nelson Bennett
  • 1991 Tom Corcoran
  • 1992 Nick Badami
  • 1993 Serge Lussi
  • 1994 Fraser West
  • 1995 Gerald F. Groswold
  • 1996 Anna McIntyre
  • 1997 Faris Taylor
  • 1998 Irv Kagan
  • 1999 Thom Weisel
  • 2000 Dr. Richard Steadman
  • 2001 Warren Lowry (posthumously)
  • 2002 Not Awarded
  • 2003 Jim McCarthy
  • 2004 Howard Peterson
  • 2005 Michael Berry
  • 2006 Peter Kellogg
  • 2007 Charles Ferries
  • 2008 Gary Black, Jr.
  • 2009 Lee Todd
  • 2010 Tom Winters
  • 2011 Joe Lamb
  • 2012 John Garnsey
  • 2013 Barry 'Bear' Bryant
  • 2014 Bill Marolt
  • 2015 Allen Church
  • 2016 Bob Dart (posthumously)
  • 2017 Ted Sutton
  • 2018 Bruce Crane (posthumously)
  • 2019 Thelma Hoessler
  • 2020 Dexter Paine
  • 2021 Darryl Landstrom

 

Kern Rolls Passion Into Pastimes

By Tom Horrocks
May, 20 2021
Kern
A passionate outdoor enthusiast, Julia Kern has found a unique way to mix her degree from Dartmouth, her day job as a professional cross country skier, and all of her outdoor adventures into serving as an athlete ambassador and team member for Pastimes.

Davis U.S. Cross Country Ski Team member Julia Kern is always game for sharing her outdoor passions. And now she has an app for that!

Kern has found a unique way to mix her studies toward a degree from Dartmouth in economics, with a minor in human-centered design, her day job as a professional cross country skier, and all of her outdoor adventures into serving as an athlete ambassador and team member for Pastimes - an app that connects like-minded outdoor enthusiasts for activities and adventures.

“It was started by a few climbers out of Salt Lake City,” Kern said. “They would climb in the gym all the time and see people post their phone numbers on the wall.
”

A passionate outdoor enthusiast herself, when not skiing or roller skiing, Kern is usually mountain biking, climbing, surfing, paddling or backcountry skiing. So when she was introduced to Pastimes by Phillip Belena, a cross country ski fan who lives in New York City and a former digital consultant for a Craftsbury Outdoor Center, her initial involvement was to “do some user testing on their prototype.” But, “one thing led to another, and I was really passionate about what the app is trying to achieve and wanted to get more involved,” she said. 


During the fall 2020 semester (she graduates in June), Kern jumped into some mobile design work at the Digital Applied Learning and Innovation Lab at Dartmouth, and that led to her taking on multiple roles with Pastimes, including working throughout the past World Cup season during her downtime.

“
The balance (between racing, resting, and training) was actually not that foreign to me because I've done so much school in the past few years,” she said. “It is actually something that I thrive on. I like having other things going on.
 And this job is a remote job, and it's flexible on my own time.
 So it was the perfect thing for me to stay balanced this last year and have something else to occupy my mind when I wasn’t training and racing.
”

The biggest challenge she faced all winter was the eight-hour time difference between the Central European Time Zone and the Mountain Time Zone, where the Pastimes headquarters are located in Salt Lake City. “That's probably the biggest challenge when we're in Europe. It's really hard to connect with people with that big-time change,” she said. But that hasn’t stopped the app’s evolution. Following a winter of user feedback, Pastimes is about to release a design update that will make it even easier for outdoor enthusiasts to connect and share their passion. 

“We've seen the most users engage in biking, hiking, backcountry skiing, and climbing so far,” Kern said. “
But, we've had so many requests for different sports, and the list keeps growing.
 The app has changed so much, so quickly, because we're constantly listening and improving based on what users have to say.


“It's been cool working with a team that is so passionate about helping make the outdoors accessible to all, putting the user first, and hearing people's feedback, and acting on it,” she said. “Our goals are big. The need is there and it's just a matter of keeping it free to users and making it sustainable on the business side.
 I think it has a lot of potential.
”

Pastimes is available on both the App Store and Google Play. Want to know what Julia is up to? Follow her on Instagram!

 

Dani Loeb Participates in the FFA Alumni Championship Rodeo

By Gabby Tachis
May, 18 2021
Dani Loeb at the FFA Alumni Championship Rodeo
Dani Loeb acting as Annie Oakley's last descendant at the FFA Alumni Championship Rodeo (Dave Mckissick)

U.S. Freestyle Aerial Ski Team member and native Alabamian, Dani Loeb, participated in her first rodeo on April 30 and May 1. Loeb performed the clown bit both nights at the Wetumpka FFA Alumni Championship Rodeo, acting as Annie Oakley’s last descendant the first night and doing a Duck Dynasty bit the second night. “It was an exciting weekend, and it was great to see all of my friends from home,” said Loeb.

The rodeo was a Future Farmers of America (FFA) charity event with riders from the International Professional Rodeo Association. The proceeds went to Wetumpka High School’s FFA Chapter and the WHS agricultural department. Loeb spent much of her childhood in Wetumpka, as it is her mother’s hometown. Her mom was also a horse trainer, so she has always been around the rodeo, but this was her first time participating in one.

Surprisingly Loeb noticed a few distinct similarities between rodeo and skiing. “There are many groups, like show horses and rodeo, that remind me of different skiing disciplines..”

Leading up to the rodeo, Loeb toured local schools in the county with the reigning Miss Rodeo USA, Kylee Campbell. Loeb noted that not many kids in that area have been skiing before, as the closest resort is in North Carolina. When she walked in to the schools with her skis, many of the kids responded with, “That’s a ski?! How do you even stand on that thing?” Loeb helped demonstrate that even being from a small town, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. “I wanted to show them that no matter what their dreams are, they can achieve them if they work hard,” Loeb explained.

Loeb is a shining example of someone who has achieved those dreams. She comes from a gymnastics background and was recruited to the team when she was training at a gym in Texas. Before being recruited to the team, Loeb had only ever skied once during spring break as a small child. She is now the first Alabamian to make the U.S. Ski Team.

Follow Dani Loeb’s journey from Alabama to aerials via her Instagram @dani.loeb

 

Sprang, Norge Ski Club Honored As U.S. Ski & Snowboard Coach, Club Of The Year

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
May, 18 2021
Norge Ski Club
The 116-year-old Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, Ill. was recognized as overall Club of the Year, for its program growth during the pandemic season.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard capped a challenging winter season by recognizing coaches and clubs for their service to the sport. A dozen coaches and seven clubs were honored in a kickoff for the organization’s annual spring awards.

U.S. Freeski Pro Team Slopestyle Coach Skogen Sprang, who led his athletes to an outstanding international season, was selected as the freeski and overall U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team Coach of the Year. Veteran cross country coach Sten Fjeldheim, who is retiring after an illustrious 35-year career at Northern Michigan University, was named cross country and overall Development Coach of the Year.

The 116-year-old Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, Ill. was recognized as overall Club of the Year, for its program growth during the pandemic season. Idaho’s Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation was named Development Club of the Year for its focus on athletic development.

“Coaches and clubs faced unique challenges this past season yet still rose to the occasion to provide safe and productive athletic programs across the country and on international tours,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Director of Sport Education Gar Trayner.

The top honorees were recognized during the organization’s annual Club Excellence Conference, held online for a second straight year. Additional awards will be announced during late May and early June.

2021 COACHES OF THE YEAR

U.S. SKI & SNOWBOARD TEAM COACH OF THE YEAR

FREESKI TEAM COACH OF THE YEAR

Skogen Sprang, Olympic Valley, Calif.

U.S. Freeski Pro Team Slopestyle Coach Skogen Sprang was selected as the freeski and overall U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team Coach of the Year. It was the third time Sprang has been honored with the freeski award, and second as overall coach of the year (2014).

Sprang was recognized for the accomplishments of his athletes, winning the FIS Freeski Park & Pipe Nations Cup and a pair of crystal globes for Colby Stevenson. Three other athletes, Alex Hall, Mac Forehand, and Aaron Blunck, finished in the top-10.

USA won the FIS Freeski Nations Cup trophy in the 2021 season, with the country’s 1696 points nearly double the points of runner-up Switzerland’s 853. Colby Stevenson led the way by taking the slopestyle and Freeski overall globes and three other men - Alex Hall, Mac Forehand and Aaron Blunck - finished in the top-10.

He was also acknowledged by his peers for nearly a decade of success through two Olympics and his personal commitment to coaches education. Sprang is a level 300 coach and helps to facilitate coach education every spring at the level 300 coaches clinic at Mammoth Mountain, Calif. 

 

OVERALL DEVELOPMENT COACH OF THE YEAR

CROSS COUNTRY DEVELOPMENT COACH OF THE YEAR

Sten Fjeldheim, Marquette, Mich.

Legendary Northern Michigan University cross country coach Sten Fjeldheim was recognized as the cross country and overall Development Coach of the Year. Fjeldheim was recognized for his 35 years as one of the most successful coaches in sport history and for his broad contribution to sport development. It was his third time winning the overall award (2000 and 2005) and fourth time for cross country (1991, 2005, 2016).

In his tenure at NMU, seven Wildcats won national titles. He coached 97 National Collegiate Athletic Association All-America athletes, 11 Olympians and five U.S. champions. During his entire time as a coach, he was a significant contributor to U.S. development efforts, also serving as a national development coordinator and a coach at Olympics, world championships, and junior worlds.

A Norwegian native, he came to the USA as a child. He skied three seasons for NMU and was a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1980-86.

 

U.S SKI & SNOWBOARD TEAM COACHES OF THE YEAR

Alpine - Mike Day, Burlington, Vt.

U.S. Ski Team alpine coach Mike Day was honored as U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team Alpine Coach of the Year. Day, who heads Mikaela Shiffrin’s coaching team, was recognized for Shiffrin’s success in a challenging season, coming back from the tragic death of her father amidst a World Cup tour upended by the pandemic. Shiffrin won four medals at the world championships and skied a strong World Cup season with three victories and 10 podiums.

Day was lauded for his attention to detail and anticipating every scenario. His planning acumen instills confidence and trust in his athletes enhancing their ability to perform. He has been a coach with the U.S. Ski Team for a decade, most recently working with Shiffrin. He was also Ted Ligety’s coach when he won three gold medals at the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

 

Cross Country - Jason Cork, Stratton Mountain, Vt.

U.S. Ski Team cross country coach Jason Cork was named U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team Cross Country Coach of the Year. Cork was recognized for the success of Jessie Diggins, who won the overall FIS Cross Country World Cup as well as the Tour de Ski.

Cork has been Diggins’ primary coach since 2010, building a strong rapport and orchestrating her training plan and race service support, in addition to providing athlete support at the World Cup level for the entire Davis U.S. Cross Country Ski Team.

 

Freestyle - Vladimir ‘Vlad’ Lebedev

U.S. Freestyle Ski Team aerials coach Vladimir ‘Vlad’ Lebedev was honored with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team Freestyle Coach of the Year. He was recognized for leading the U.S. team to the FIS Nations Cup in aerials.

A mix of veterans and new rising stars combined to place nine U.S. athletes into the top 16 in the World Cup led by Winter Vinecki, who finished second. At the FIS Freestyle World Championships, Chris Lillis and Ashley Caldwell won silver, with the team taking bronze.

Lebedev is a native of Uzbekistan and competed as a Russian aerialist for a decade, winning bronze at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

 

Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping - Anders Johnson, Park City, Utah

Team Coach of the Year honors for ski jumping and nordic combined went to Anders Johnson, a longtime athlete who was in his first year as World Cup coach for the women’s ski jumpers. Despite a challenging season, he was recognized for raising the level of all his athletes and improving the team culture.

Johnson grew up in the shadow of the Olympic jumps in Park City. After coaching for several years with Park City Ski & Snowboard, he moved up to the national team last spring. He single-handedly led the team through much of the COVID-impacted World Cup season serving as everything from coach to suit maker. 

He led the women’s team to its best results in two seasons with personal bests from Paige Jones, Annika Belshaw, and Logan Sankey.

 

Snowboard - Peter Foley, Hood River, Ore.

Veteran coach Peter Foley was selected as Snowboard Coach of the Year. His snowboardcross team earned eight podium finishes on the World Cup tour, more than any other nation, earning the SBX Nations Cup for the USA.

Foley was the founding coach of the U.S. Snowboard Team in 1994 and has been with the SBX program for 17 seasons. In addition to his work with the team, he is an advocate for coaches' education. He is a level 500 coach himself and hosts a level 300 clinic for SBX at Mt. Hood each summer.

 

DEVELOPMENT COACHES OF THE YEAR

Alpine - Mike Bansmer, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club alpine coach Mike Bansmer was recognized as Alpine Development Coach of the year. A six-year veteran of the Steamboat program, Bansmer has been an instrumental contributor to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard alpine development system.

This past season, five of Bansmer’s athletes were at the top of the National Development Group. Across his entire program, Bansmer manages 42 athletes, one of the deepest talent pools in the country. Two of his athletes were nominated for the U.S. Ski Team this spring.

Beyond his program in Steamboat, Bansmer is integrally involved with regional and national development projects, donating significant time each season to contribute to the development of athletes around the country. He was cited for his hard work and professionalism that is having an impact not only on his own club, but on the sport as a whole. This coming season, Bansmer will be joining the U.S. Ski Team’s men’s Europa Cup team as an assistant coach.

 

Freeski - Teddy Goggin, Team Summit, Dillon, Colo.

Longtime freeski coach Teddy Goggin, director of the Team Summit freeski program in Colorado, was honored as Freeski Development Coach of the Year. Goggin was recognized for his creation of a thoughtful, well-rounded approach to athlete development, focusing on process and goal setting.

Goggin has been coaching for a dozen years. He is a level 300 coach who is also one of the primary developers for national coaches education clinics. He works with athletes from grassroots to the national team. His approach to coaching and engagement in the overall development process have made him an integral part of the sport’s pipeline.

 

Freestyle - Lars Johnson, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Lars Johnson of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club was selected as Freestyle Development Coach of the Year. The head coach of the Steamboat freestyle program was recognized for his contributions to the development pipeline in numerous ways this past season.

Johnson had multiple athletes from his program start in World Cup moguls events this past season, including four athletes named to the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. Johnson also plays a strong role in the thought leadership space of long-term athlete development and skills acquisition.

 

Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping - Zak Hammill, Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage, Anchorage

Under the leadership of former national team ski jumper Zak Hammill, jumping in Alaska is really taking off! Hammill was named Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping Development Coach of the Year for his work in bringing jumping to the forefront in Alaska through his work with the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage. Hammill is already seeing success, with club member Carter Brubaker nominated to the Junior National Team and qualifying last year for Junior World Championships. Alaska also has multiple up-and-coming athletes in the Fly Guys program.

After taking a one-year sabbatical, Hammill came back as head coach last year to take his club to the next level. He worked with his club to get funding for the organization’s first winch cat to better prepare the jumping hill. He has continued to upgrade the jumping facilities and is assisting in the planning of a new clubhouse.

He has also pushed the national coaches committee to form a working group to develop a more structured national training program for U16 athletes designed to reduce attrition in the age class and to establish ski jumping and nordic combined as viable options for skiers from Alaska.

 

Snowboard - Dylan Omlin, Auburn Ski Club, Truckee, Calif.

A significant contributor to the snowboard development pipeline for many years, Dylan Omlin of the Auburn Ski Club was recognized as Snowboard Development Coach of the Year. As program director for the club, he oversees over 300 snowboard members including a special high school sports program. 

Omlin’s athletes have found success at the highest levels from grassroots to the Olympics in both slopestyle and snowboardcross. At the same time, Omlin has given back as a member and now chair of the Snowboard Sport Committee and this past season stepped in to help fill a gap as national slopestyle development coach. He has been a consistent presence for rookie team athletes while helping them navigate an unprecedented pandemic season.

 

2021 CLUBS OF THE YEAR

OVERALL CLUB OF THE YEAR

SKI JUMPING/NORDIC COMBINED CLUB OF THE YEAR

Norge Ski Club, Fox River Grove, Ill.

Founded in 1905, the Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, Ill. is one of America’s oldest. It continues to thrive today, 116 years later, and was named U.S. Ski & Snowboard overall and ski jumping/nordic combined Club of the Year. In a season disrupted by the pandemic, Norge still saw a 30% increase in participation and remains one of the largest jumping clubs in the Central Division. It is the first time Norge has won the overall award, but won for ski jumping/nordic combined in 2004 and 2012.

The Chicago-area club is one of the most well-represented on national ski jumping teams with three men and one woman on the national team, and two men on the junior national team. Two Norge athletes made the 2021 World Championship Team with another two named to the Junior World Championships Team, along with seven to the USA Nordic Junior Championships.

The success of the club stems from a very strong coaching staff, along with increased parent engagement. The club has also initiated specific projects to keep the club thriving and developing athletes across the variety of hill sizes Norge has to offer. It’s jumping complex north of Chicago is one of the most complete in the midwest.

 

DEVELOPMENT CLUB OF THE YEAR

Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation, Boise, Idaho

Athletic development is a vital component of successful clubs. In recognition of its innovative work, U.S. Ski & Snowboard has awarded its Development Club of the Year Award to the Bogus Basin Ski Education (BBSEF) in Boise, Idaho. The award is presented annually to a club that has executed outstanding programs in the area of athletic development. The award was first implemented in 2019 to encourage clubs to increase their focus on development.

Under the leadership of Head Coach and Program Director Mark Wedeking, along with Director of Operations Shannon Carrell, BBSEF has been actively engaged in U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Podium Club Certification since 2019, with an interest in identifying opportunities and creating a roadmap for continuous improvement in all areas of organizational and athletic performance. The club earned bronze certification in 2019. Over the next 12 months, it executed strategies for ongoing self-assessment, resource development, and improved facilities and training venues. As a result of this mission-focused work, it earned the silver level in 2021.

The club was cited for its commitment to professional development and coaches’ certification, as well as its full range of programs to keep athletes engaged and having fun while developing important skills in alpine, freeski, and snowboard. The club has shown a great commitment to increasing financial scholarships to minimize barriers to the sport. It has established clear goals and benchmarks for organization and athletic performance.

 

SPORT CLUBS OF THE YEAR

Alpine - Green Mountain Valley School, Waitsfield, Vt.

The Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS) in Waitsfield, Vt. was awarded the Alpine Club of the Year Award. Formed in 1973, the club was recognized for its longstanding holistic approach to developing the GMVS community and for its extraordinary work during COVID where the club played a pivotal role in ensuring ski racing could continue during the pandemic.

Under the leadership of Tracy Keller, GMVS has a strong commitment to coaches’ education as well as women in coaching with at least one female coach in every age group from U8 to U19. It has also developed a strong high performance team.

During the pandemic, GMVS took charge - not just for its own programs, but to help ski racing across New England. Despite some of the strictest COVID regulations in the country, GMVS was innovative in working with health officials to create an environment where even out-of-state families could continue to participate. It innovated new policies, schedules, and other protocols to ensure a successful junior ski racing season.

 

Cross Country - Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Ketchum, Idaho

Strong clubs stepped up during the pandemic season, including the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) which was awarded Cross Country Club of the Year. Not only did SVSEF rise up to help its own athletes, but it extended its resources to ensure that skiers across the region had opportunities to compete.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Scott McGrew and Cross Country Program Director Rick Kapala, the club expanded opportunities by hosting additional cross country competitions. The club also provided additional representation and support to U.S. Ski & Snowboard for event planning, coaching education and COVID-19 mitigation policy working groups.

As a longstanding club, it continued to have an impact with three of its athletes on national teams. It is the fourth time (1999, 2007, 2009) the club has been recognized as Cross Country Club of the Year.

 

Freeski - Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, Vail, Colo.

A longstanding club of nearly 70 years, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail really upped its game in freeski over the past two seasons led by Program Director Chris Laske and Head Coach Willis Engelhart. The clear impact was seen in results and enrollment this past season with the club being named Freeski Club of the Year. It is the third time the club has been honored with the award (2013, 2014).

Despite a season impacted by COVID, enrollment in the park and pipe program doubled. SSCV athletes upped their engagement at U.S. Ski & Snowboard and USASA events including the Futures Tour, Revolution Tour and World Cup. The club had seven finalists at Rev Tour, three Futures Tour wins and five other podiums. Willis has also continued to work with Rookie Team athlete Riley Jacobs.

The staff has also been upgraded, now with four coaches - all level 100-300 certified. Former pro skier Sean Jordan, a new addition, brings over a decade of Dew Tour experience to the program.

 

Freestyle - Park City Ski & Snowboard/Wasatch Freestyle, Park City, Utah

A pandemic season can bring the best out in clubs. Two high-profile freestyle clubs in Utah combined forces to ensure that the sport would continue on, supporting each other on events and providing a playing field for athletes. Jointly, Park City Ski & Snowboard (PCCS) and Wasatch Freestyle were honored as Freestyle Club of the Year.

Wasatch played host to the U.S. Freestyle Championships for moguls, while PCCS managed aerials. Wasatch also held a FIS Open as a NorAm replacement and multiple regional events. PCCS held the U.S. Junior Championships for moguls plus other regional events.

Both programs also had strong seasons. Park City Ski & Snowboard’s moguls program grew 135% thanks in part to its Intro to Mogul Day at the Utah Olympic Park. Wasatch Freestyle had multiple podiums at US Selections, FIS Open, Junior Nationals, and the U.S. Freestyle Championships.

 

Snowboard - American Snowboard Training Center, Mt. Snow, Vt.

The American Snowboard Training Center (ASTC) was recognized as Snowboard Club of the Year. Founded in 2007 by Olympian Ron Chiodi, ASTC’s mission as a winter-term snowboard academy is to offer a clear path of success in both snowboarding and academics, with a focus on keeping college admissions a priority. Chiodi, who was on the very first Olympic halfpipe team in 1998, has combined with head coach Scott Horwath and the team to build a successful program at Vermont’s Mt. Snow and now ASTC Michigan and ASTC West.

Over the last eight years, ASTC has grown its impact at the Futures Tour, Revolution Tour, and World Cup slopestyle, and big air events. This past year, 16-year-old Lucas Ferry consistently made finals in all Rev Tour events. Fellow 16-year-old Nick Fox also made finals at Aspen in his first Rev Tour.

Between all three programs, the dream of creating a system of support for athletes nationwide has come to fruition. With a clear path and direction for its athletes, the future looks very bright for this unique snowboard academy.