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Countdown to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Shiffrin's 2020-21 Journey Featured in USA Today

By Megan Harrod
April, 29 2021
Shiffrin Courchevel Victory
Mikaela Shiffrin reacts to her first World Cup victory since her father's passing, feeling a flood of emotions in the finish area at Courchevel, France with competitor/friend Tessa Worley. (Photo by Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin recently caught up with USA Today's Nancy Armour to reflect on the unprecedented 2020-21 season for an article entitled, "Mikaela Shiffrin finds a way through grief after father's sudden death." 

In the article, Shiffrin shared just how emotional her first FIS Ski World Cup victory (in Courchevel, France) since her father's passing was, 

The tears came even before Mikaela Shiffrin won her first race this past season.

She always takes a nap or meditates between runs and, when she awoke that December day in Courchevel, France, she found herself crying because she could feel what was coming and she knew the flood of emotions it would bring.

It wasn’t that it would be her first win in almost a year. Or that it would come after a back injury she feared would threaten her career. Or that it would be in the midst of a pandemic that had upended her and everyone else’s worlds.

The win, in giant slalom, would be her first victory since the unexpected February 2020 death of her father, Jeff, whose low-key presence loomed large throughout every aspect of the two-time Olympic champion’s life.

They also discussed Shiffrin's involvement with the inception and success of the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund, which raised $3,075,000 for all U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes across all sports. 

Shiffrin has always been introspective – and refreshingly open with her thoughts – and plans to spend part of this summer examining what she can do to restore that emotional energy she lost. But she also knows there’s no shortcutting the grieving process, that it’s simply going to take time.

One thing that did help was the response to the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund, which raised more than $3 million. As a result, each named U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete received a one-time payment of $1,300 to help get them through COVID-19.

What began as a way for Shiffrin, her mother and brother to honor Jeff Shiffrin and channel their sorrow soon became a kind of communal therapy. Teammates chimed in with their own experiences and inspirations. People outside the sport reached out to Shiffrin to share their stories and what had helped them.

“I didn’t expect the response to be quite so strong,” Shiffrin said. “Hearing what other people have been through, it helps you gain perspective. It helped me gain perspective.

“It was pretty incredible just to be a part of it,” she added. “It just felt really connected at time we felt so isolated. That was something that brought connection, so that was pretty incredible.”

And it reminded Shiffrin that the human spirit is strong enough to withstand just about anything, even if it seems impossible in the moment.

Based on Shiffrin's recent training at Official Training Sites Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain, Calif., the 2021-22 season is going to be very, very exciting. As she says in voiceover on a recent post, "See that doesn't look like a girl who's given up...that looks like a girl who's just getting started."

Read the full article on USA Today

2020-21 Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team Season Highlights

By Megan Harrod
April, 28 2021
RCS first place Bormio
Ryan Cochran Siegle's super-G victory in Bormio, Italy marked the end of a 14-year drought, as he became the first American male to win a World Cup super-G since Bode Miller in Dec. 2006. (Photo by Mattia Ozbot - Getty Images)

Despite the fact that the 2020-21 season was full of new and uncharted territories, from thousands of nose swabs, stacks of paperwork to get from point A to point B, to mask-wearing on the podium and social distancing, the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team also experienced new and uncharted territory on the mountain—depth like we haven't experienced in a long time. 

As the domestic schedule was affected by the global pandemic and NorAms were nonexistent, younger athletes hopped the pond and spent a majority of their season in Europe, getting invaluable experience on the road and a glimpse into what their future will look like on the FIS Ski World Cup circuit. They drove from International Ski Federation (FIS) races to Europa Cups, in search of points-scoring opportunities, and enjoyed that amazing Italian pizza and coffee along the way. 

At the World Cup level, the North American eventsincluding the much-anticipated Homelight Killington Cup in Killington, Vt., Xfinity Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek, Colo., and Lake Louise speed series—were sadly canceled, in an effort to minimize travel and find efficiencies in an already complicated nearly 80-race schedule. The events were relocated to Europe, and though the North American World Cups signal the kickoff to the bulk of the World Cup season, the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team didn’t seem to skip a beat. In fact, the team kicked off the season with a bang. 

With an already challenging European-centric schedule, American alpine athletes found themselves living out of duffel bags for up to six months at a time. In a normal season, most athletes are able to at least go home once during the season, but this season was far from normal. Since travel back and forth between Europe and the United States was limited, so too was the ability for athletes to sneak in a break at home. And so, it was months on end of schnitzel, semmel rolls, salami, and Servus greetings in the morning. Nevertheless, the alpine crew showed their resilience. 

At the highest level, the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team grabbed 18 podiums and four victories across five athletes—led by two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin, with three victories, and Olympian Ryan Cochran-Siegle with two podiums and his career-first World Cup victory. Add to that four World Championship medals for Shiffrin, two World Junior Championship medals, including Ben Ritchie’s gold in slalom and AJ Hurt’s bronze in slalom, and career-first podiums by Paula Moltzan in the parallel and Breezy Johnson with four-straight third-place finishes in downhill, and it’s clear the team was absolutely firing from all cylinders and feeding off of each other’s success. Let’s not forget continued success by 2019 Xfinity Birds of Prey victor Tommy Ford, who snagged second place in an early-season Santa Caterina, Italy’s giant slalom.  

Digging a bit deeper, and perhaps most impressively, there were firsts of all kinds—from returns to the mountain after injury or heartache and loss, to career-first points, top-10s, podiums, victories...and there were also devastating season-ending injuries. Every single day of the season seemed like an amalgamation of skyscraper-high highs and crushing heartbreaking lows. It was a rollercoaster we collectively wanted to ride forever while simultaneously wanting to exit stage left at any and all of its emotion-inducing twists and turns. Perhaps there are two words that can sum it all up: wild and unprecedented. 

From veterans like Laurenne Ross, Alice McKennis Duran, and Jackie Wiles, to young athletes hungry to make their mark like Keely Cashman and Kyle Negomir...the early season injuries were brutal. Then there was Sam Dupratt’s violent crash in the second of two downhill training runs at Val Gardena, Italy, where he sustained bilateral lower extremity injuries, Ford’s horrific crash at in the giant slalom at Adelboden, Switzerland, and Cochran-Siegle’s fall through the nets in the fastest section of the course in the downhill at Kitzbuehel, Austria, after leading in the top splits and winning the first of two downhill training runs. 

It was just...a lot. Of everything. A lot of nose swabs. A lot of paperwork. A lot of success. A lot of heartbreak. A lot. 

So let’s talk about the good stuff, shall we?! Moltzan and teammate Nina O’Brien started the season off on fire, grabbing a 10th and 15th, respectively, in giant slalom at Solden, Austria. Keely Cashman scored her first World Cup points and first top-20 and top-10 all in one weekend at Val d’Isere, France in December: 17th in downhill, 16th in downhill, and then 10th in super-G. It just kept getting better. Best bud and teammate AJ Hurt scored her first World Cup points in the parallel at Lech Zeurs, Austria, finishing 25th...but then grabbed a top-20 (18th) in Courchevel, France in giant slalom. The 20-year-old Hurt would go on to score points six times across four disciplines: slalom, parallel slalom, giant slalom, and super-G this winter. She also snagged herself a bronze at World Junior Championships...in slalom. 

Moltzan and O’Brien kept the momentum going all season long, with personal best after personal best. Moltzan’s season was highlighted by a top-five in the slalom at Are, Sweden, and she ended up ranked a career-best 11th in the world in slalom. O’Brien had a career-best ninth in Flachau, Austria, and 12th in giant slalom in Lenzerheide, Switzerland...but it was her World Championships performance that blew everyone away. Behind teammate Shiffrin, she had the second-fastest first run. She ended up 10th after a sizable mistake at the finish, but she’s got her sights set on the podium. 

Newly named to the team for 2020-21, Bella Wright scored her first World Cup points at St. Anton, Austria in the downhill, in her teammate McKennis Duran’s honor. She went on to score eight times across downhill and super-G, finishing with a career-best 14th place at Val di Fassa, Italy in the downhill. 

And let’s talk about Breezy Johnson...dang. She started by grabbing her career-first FIS Ski World Cup podium in Val d'Isere, France in December, and scored four consecutive podiums from there. In six downhill starts, she was top five in five starts and only DNFed once. Despite a big mistake at FIS Ski World Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, where she was the favorite, she ended up in ninth...but was gunning for the win. She finished the season with a career-best super-G result in 10th at Val di Fassa, Italy, and ended up ranked fourth in the world in downhill—her best-ever ranking. Aside from teammate Mikaela Shiffrin, and former teammate and downhill legend Lindsey Vonn, Johnson is the first American to crack the top five in the women’s World Cup downhill standings in the last five years.

On the men’s side, Travis Ganong kicked the season off with a bang, matching a career-best fourth in super-G at Val d’Isere, France. Bryce Bennett matched his career-best with a fourth-place in the downhill at Val Gardena. That same day, Cochran-Siegle stood on the podium in second for the first time in what will undoubtedly be a promising career. Jared Goldberg was a career-best sixth, while Sam Morse grabbed his career-first World Cup points in 29th. Up next? Bormio. Cochran-Siegle carried that momentum and his career-best eighth place in super-G at Val Gardena led to a first-ever super-G victory at Bormio, Italy—ending a 14-year drought to become the first American male to win a World Cup super-G since Bode Miller in Dec. 2006. 

Morse also grabbed a third-place—sharing the podium with teammate Erik Arvidsson, who won—and a fourth place in Europa Cup downhills. 2016 World Juniors downhill champion Arvidsson joined the men’s speed team as an invitee for the season, and made quite the mark, finishing in the top six in all four Europa Cup downhills he started, including two victories. As the only male athlete to have skied NCAA and successfully transitioned to the World Cup circuit, he proved he belongs there, grabbing his first World Cup points, top-20, top-15, and top-10 in one fell swoop ending up eighth in the downhill at Saalbach, Austria

River Radamus came to play this season, stepping up as veteran teammates fell injured, scoring consistently in giant slalom, highlighted by an 11th place at his first World Championships bid, and a career-best 14th to finish off the season in Bansko, Bulgaria. Luke Winters matched a career-best 19th in slalom at Chamonix, France, while the young slalom team continued to show their progression, as teammate Ben Ritchie won World Juniors and snagged a top-15 at World Championships. 

Last but certainly not least...Shiffrin. It was a season of unknowns and a lack of a prep period, but Shiffrin still walked away with numerous records and—perhaps more importantly—a joy for the sport of ski racing and the fire to win, once again. Shiffrin’s season was highlighted by the four World Championships medals she won at Cortina 2021 (a career-best World Champs), as she became the first skier—male or female—to win four medals at the World Championships in 14 years, the most decorated American alpine skier in World Championships history (11 medals), with the most World Championship gold medals for American alpine skier (six gold). 

However, it was the giant slalom victory in Courchevel, France, that was the most emotional for Shiffrin. One year prior she finished a disappointing 17th in giant slalom on the track. This season she would be competing without her father Jeff, and void of the opportunity to text him after she won...her first win since before her father passed away in February of 2020. Collapsing to the ground as she won by .85 seconds, Shiffrin felt a mix of emotions. She recently told Nancy Armour with USA Today, that she thought between runs, “This is going to be the first race I win without him saying anything. Without being able to call him,” Shiffrin said, recalling her thinking that day. “This is the start of the rest of my ski career without one of the biggest pieces of my ski career." Despite limiting her schedule to tech this season, Shiffrin was still fourth in the overall, second in the slalom standings, and surprised even herself when she finished second in the giant slalom standings. With an early start to the 2021-22 season, Shiffrin is feeling good and next season should be very exciting to watch. 

We'd be remiss not to mention the four veterans and legends who retired this season, including two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety, St. Anton World Cup victor Mckennis Duran, two-time podium finisher Ross, and three-time Olympian Resi Stiegler. McKennis Duran and Ross went out in style at U.S. Alpine Championships in Aspen, Colo, as did Stiegler, with her first national slalom title since 2017.

It was a season full of ups and downs, but the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team’s depth was stronger than ever and the athletes are feeding off of each other’s success and positive vibes. Fans have a lot to be stoked about, as the 2021-22 season is already underway, with training camps at Official Training Sites in Mammoth and Squaw, Calif. Buckle up! 

Until then, relive all the top moments of the year below.

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Freestyle’s 2020-21 Season

By Lara Carlton
April, 28 2021

Despite the added stress of competing amidst a global pandemic, the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team showed their true grit and resilience in achieving banner results. For the first time in recent recorded history (according to records available via FIS), the U.S. was crowned the best freestyle nation, winning both the Aerials and Moguls Nations Cups. Every single American athlete that started in a World Cup contributed to the teams’ success. The achievement speaks to the depth and future of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. 

The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team cautiously headed into the 2020-21 season with 22 elite-level events scheduled, including an Olympic preview with the 2021 World Championships originally scheduled for Zhangjiakou, the site of freestyle’s 2022 Olympic Winter Game venues. The season ended with 14 World Cups and a rescheduled World Championships to Almaty, Kazakhstan. 

The women of the moguls team continued their domination as the best women’s team in the world. The #powHERhouse ended the season with four ranked in the top six overall: Hannah Soar (3), Kai Owens (4), Jaelin Kauf (5) and Tess Johnson (6). Their most obvious display came on home snow at the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International when 16-year-old Owens led the first-ever American sweep of World Cup dual moguls at Deer Valley Resort. Soar took second and Johnson took third.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Hannah Soar (@hannsoar)

Moguls kicked off their season with a bang with three World Cup events in Scandinavia. In the World Cup Opener in Ruka, Finland, Kauf skied to a second-place finish right off the bat. Owens and Page both made statements with Owens skiing in her first super finals and Page becoming the first American to throw a cork 14 in World Cup competition.

In Idre Fjall, Sweden, Soar and Page shared career firsts with each earning their first singles World Cup podium with a pair of third-place finishes. Kauf earned a second second-place finish in duals and Brad Wilson found the podium in a tied-for-third unprecedented ending to a fogged-out competition

The World Cup schedule provided a break from competition in January and athletes were able to take advantage of training opportunities stateside before gearing up for the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort. Due to COVID-19 the event looked and felt different than usual, but the Champion course still made for some serious moguls action. The women’s sweep would only have been sweeter if it had been in front of 8,000 screaming fans (here’s to looking at 2022!). 

Several athletes made their first World Championships appearances in Almaty, Kazakhstan: Soar, Owens, Page and Alex Lewis. Having the opportunity to experience their first World Championships alongside veteran teammates like Wilson, Kauf and Johnson was a priceless experience heading into an Olympic year. 

Moguls’ World Cup season ended without fanfare with dual moguls World Cup finals cancelled due to fog. However, the podium ceremonies for the Nations Cup, the Grand Prix standings and Rookie of the Year were reasons to celebrate. In addition to having seven American athletes in the top 10 and winning the Nations Cup, the U.S. swept the FIS Rookie of the Year as Page and Owens each earned the honor for 2021. In total six different athletes found the podium a combined eight times in only five World Cup opportunities.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nick Page (@nickpage58)

Several familiar faces made their return to the World Cup from injury. Olivia Giaccio got in the start gate in December in Idre Fjall, Sweden, almost a year to date since blowing her knee the previous December in Thaiwoo, China. Avital Carroll, Joel Hedrick and Kenzie Radway all made their return on home snow at Deer Valley in February. 

U.S. Freestyle Moguls National Championships were able to go off this season and two days of competition at Snowbird, Utah, was a great way to close out 2020-21. Nessa Dziemian, in her first competition in two years, was crowned Moguls National Champion, sharing the title with Page. Kasey Hogg and Hedrick each dualed their hearts out the next day to earn the Dual Moguls National Championship titles. 

On the aerials side, seven athletes found the podium a combined 18 times in only six World Cup and two World Championships opportunities. Five athletes closed out 2020-21 in the top 10 overall: Winter Vinecki (2), Megan Nick (6), Ashley Caldwell (7), Kaila Kuhn (9) and Justin Schoenefeld (8). Some results may have been left on the snow as many athletes were unable to compete in World Cup finals due to COVID-19 protocols. 

Aerials’ season started off slow at the World Cup Opener in Ruka in December. However, after a January domestic training camp at Official Training Site Utah Olympic Park, which included U.S. Freestyle Aerials Nationals - Caldwell and Chris Lillis each earned the 2021 title - the team showed up in a big way.

Caldwell kicked off a podium hot streak that would last through World Championships with her second-place finish in the first of three Yaroslavl, Russia, World Cups. Nick stomped a win the following day and shared the podium with teammate Kuhn, who came in third for her first career World Cup podium result. At the team event, Caldwell, Schoenefeld and Eric Loughran earned the first team World Cup podium with a third-place finish. 

Success continued in Moscow, Russia, with Vinecki earning her first career World Cup podium with a win and Chris Lillis coming in second place on the mens’ side. The following weekend Nick and Vinecki were back on the podium in Raubichi, Minsk, with first and third places, respectively.

On home snow at the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort three athletes landed on the podium: Vinecki (2), Kuhn (3) and Schoenefeld (2). The aerials World Cup at Deer Valley marked the first identified Olympic Tryout event for any U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete. 

Aerials closed its season in Almaty, Kazakhstan, with World Championships and World Cup Finals. Caldwell and Lillis both earned World Championships hardware, a pair of silvers, with milestone jumps. Caldwell returned to the triple for the first time in competition in two years and Lillis finally pulled out his quintuple (five twists in three backflips). At the team event, Caldwell, Lillis and Loughran represented the U.S. to earn bronze, and the first U.S. team World Championship medal. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Chris Lillis (@chrislillis1)

Due to COVID-19 protocols, only two athletes, Dani Loeb and Tasia Tanner, were able to compete at World Cup Finals. However, their results edged out Russia for the Nations Cup honor.

With 2020-21 in the rearview mirror, it feels like nothing short of a miracle that the season actually happened. Because of the incredible efforts of U.S. Ski & Snowboard high performance and medical staff in developing COVID-19 protocols that afforded teams the best chance at training and competing safely, the commitment from all host venues, coordination with FIS, local organizing committees and governments, athletes were still able to have competition opportunities in this important run-up-to-the-Olympics-season.

2020-21 U.S. Freeski Team Season Highlights

By Andrew Gauthier
April, 26 2021
Colby Hero
Colby Stevenson (center) and Mac Forehand (right) on the podium at the 2021 Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix Slopestyle Finals in Aspen, Colo. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Mark Clavin)

The 2020-21 season was unique, but it was all about perspective for the U.S. Freeski Team. Although there were fewer competitions, no fans, limited media, and robust mitigation policies in place, athletes had the chance to do things differently. 

They spent more time training and less time traveling. New challenges and circumstances brought the team together, building comradery while they waited for the opportunity to show the world their progression has not stopped. When the time came, the U.S. Freeski Team earned 13 podiums across six elite-level park and pipe events and claimed the FIS Park and Pipe Nations Cup.

The effort was led by Park City’s own Colby Stevenson. After collecting two gold medals in his X Games debut in 2020, the freeski world had high expectations for Stevenson coming into the 2020-21 season and he did not disappoint. He finished the season with two FIS Crystal Globes - overall and slopestyle. He did so by collecting three podiums, including two World Cup wins in Aspen, Colo. at the Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix Olympic tryout event, and the World Cup Finals in Silvaplana, Switzerland. Also in Aspen, in his second World Championship appearance, Stevenson took silver at the Aspen 2021 FIS Snowboard and Freeski World Championships slopestyle, earning his first World Championships podium. 

Stevenson wasn’t alone on the podium this season, his U.S. Freeski Teammates stepped up to keep him company, including good friends Alex Hall and Mac Forehand, who finished fifth and sixth in the slopestyle cup standings. Forehand, who was competing in his second slopestyle competition after a knee injury sustained at the 2019 Visa Big Air in Atlanta, proved without a doubt that he is back, picking up where he left off with a second-place finish at the Aspen U.S. Grand Prix slopestyle.

Hall, who had never shared a podium with Stevenson prior to this season, did so twice as the season came to a close. First, at the World Championships slopestyle and again at the World Cup finals in Silvaplana, finishing third at both events. Hall also rounded out the X Games Aspen 2021 big air podium taking the bronze and collecting his fifth X Games podium in three years. 
 

However, it was Nick Goepper who made history at X Games Aspen 2021. After just missing the podium at the season opener in Stubai, Austria, Goepper came into Aspen with a vengeance to earn his fourth slopestyle gold and his first X Games podium since 2017. After a few years off the podium, the veteran and oldest member of the U.S. Freeski Slopestyle Pro Team has found his second wind just in time for what would be his third Winter Olympic Games and potentially, his third Olympic medal. Goepper only has one color missing from his Olympic medal collection - gold. 
 

U.S. Freeski Rookie Team members Rell Harwood and Marin Hamill were the story of the year for the women. They showed major progression finishing seventh and eighth in the slopestyle cup standings. Both 19-year-old Harwood, and 20-year-old Hamill claimed three top-10 results across World Cup and World Championship competition signaling a breakout season for the young athletes. Also, Maggie Voisin returned to competition after her second ACL surgery in two years, collecting two top-10 results in as many starts. 

In halfpipe, 2019-20 FIS Crystal Globe winner Aaron Blunck led the way for the U.S. contingent. Blunck took the X Games Aspen silver after receiving medical clearance to compete only three weeks prior. Blunck did not just recover from minor injuries. His crash in October at Saas-Fee, Switzerland, resulted in a grade three laceration on his kidney, a broken pelvis, six broken ribs, a sprained wrist, a bruised lung, and a bruised heart. If X Games silver wasn’t enough, Blunck capped off his season with a win at the U.S. Grand Prix Olympic tryout event by landing five double-cork rotations, one for every hit.
 

Teammate Birk Irving continued his steady rise in the world of professional halfpipe freeskiing collecting his first X Games and World Championships podiums with a pair of third-place finishes. Irving, who earned his first World Cup podium in 2019, has proven he is a contender as we approach the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. 
 

Brita Sigourney led the effort for the women collecting a third-place finish at the Aspen U.S. Grand Prix, securing a critical Olympic tryout event podium moving into next season. Devin Logan also added strong results to her resume with top-five finishes at the U.S. Grand Prix and X Games, both in Aspen’s Buttermilk superpipe. Sixteen-year-old rookie team member Hanna Faulhaber showed signs of greatness this season winning the Rev Tour at the Aspen Snowmass Open as well as collecting two top-five finishes at the Aspen U.S. Grand Prix and World Championships.  

At this point in the Olympic cycle, with less than 300 days until the opening ceremonies in Beijing, it’s about peaking when it matters most. A deep U.S. Freeski Team is primed to take on a grueling 2021-22 Olympic season to pave their way to the third Olympic Games for the sport of freeskiing. The world now knows what to expect in 2022 and the U.S. Freeski Team is ready to deliver across all disciplines.
 

Relive all the top moments of the year below!

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Toyota Re-Joins U.S. Ski & Snowboard With Multi-Year Partnership Beginning August 1

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
April, 26 2021
USSS

U.S. Ski & Snowboard today announced that Toyota will once again become the Official Mobility Partner of the Olympic National Governing Body (NGB) of ski and snowboard sports in the U.S.A. beginning August 1, 2021. 

The multi-year partnership through the 2026 Olympic Winter Games also names Toyota as the title sponsor of the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix series, the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships, the Toyota U.S. Freestyle Championships, and presenting sponsor of the “Visa Big Air Presented by Toyota” events. 

Toyota returns as the Official Vehicle of U.S. Ski & Snowboard following U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s two-year partnership with Land Rover. 

“We are so excited to welcome Toyota back to our Partner Family,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief Revenue Officer Michael O’Conor. “Their support of U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes over the years have been fantastic for our sports and we look forward to extending that support to the entire U.S. Ski & Snowboard roster ahead of the upcoming Olympic Season. We also want to thank Land Rover for supporting our athletes the past two seasons and their commitment to winter sports.” 

The partnership with Toyota will include event, broadcast, social and digital marketing rights as well as custom content creation. Toyota branding will also be seen on athlete uniforms, team gear, and throughout the U.S. Ski & Snowboard website and Social Media channels. 

“We look forward to partnering again with U.S. Ski & Snowboard to continue elevating winter sports in the United States,” said Lisa Materazzo, group vice president, Toyota Marketing, Toyota Motor North America. “As a mobility company, we’re proud to support the elite ski and snowboard athletes in achieving their goals and excited to connect with the passionate U.S. Ski & Snowboard fanbase, which includes the next generation of top talent.”

About U.S. Ski & Snowboard

U.S. Ski & Snowboard is the Olympic National Governing Body (NGB) of ski and snowboard sports in the USA, based in Park City, Utah. Tracing its roots directly back to 1905, the organization represents nearly 200 elite skiers and snowboarders in 2021, competing in seven teams; alpine, cross country, freeski, freestyle, snowboard, nordic combined and ski jumping. In addition to the elite teams, U.S. Ski & Snowboard also provides leadership and direction for tens of thousands of young skiers and snowboarders across the USA, encouraging and supporting them in achieving excellence. By empowering national teams, clubs, coaches, parents, officials, volunteers, and fans, U.S. Ski & Snowboard is committed to the progression of its sports, athlete success, and the value of team. For more information, visit www.usskiandsnowboard.org

About Toyota
Toyota (NYSE:TM), creator of the Prius hybrid and the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota and Lexus brands. Over the past 60 years, we’ve built more than 40 million cars and trucks in North America, where we have 14 manufacturing plants, 15 including our joint venture in Alabama (10 in the U.S.), and directly employ more than 47,000 people (over 36,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold nearly 2.8 million cars and trucks (nearly 2.4 million in the U.S.) in 2019.

 

Eva T’s Return to Snow

By Edie Thys Morgan
April, 23 2021
Eva Twardokens Success
U.S. Ski Team alumna, Olympian, World Championship medalist, World Technical Ski Champion, and U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Famer Eva Twardokens, who was injured in a plane crash in February of 2019, returned to the mountain this winter...and it was more than a success. (Edie Thys Morgan)

Eva Twardokens, Heidi Voelker, Kristi Terzian and I have been together on mountain tops hundreds of times, as teammates during our years together on the U.S. Ski Team and beyond; but it had been years since we’d actually felt this nervous about a run.

The sole purpose of our reunion was to get Eva skiing for the first time since surviving a plane crash in her single-engine Citabria barely two years earlier. From the start, Eva was excited but apprehensive. Her recovery has been a complex interplay of setting audacious goals and managing expectations. Skiing isn’t the most audacious of things she had already conquered (surfing gets that honor), but it might be the most meaningful. No single activity is more connected to her identity as “Eva T, World-Class Athlete”.

Starting out as a young freestyle star, Eva turned into a World Cup and Olympic ski racer, and then World Technical Ski Champion. With dental hygienist training in her pocket for financial security, she excelled at windsurfing, then surfing, became a CrossFit pioneer, National Masters weightlifting champion, personal trainer, and pilot.

Two years after falling from the sky, the body Eva spent a lifetime training now carries mechanical and neurological uncertainties: the shattered left ankle; the lagging right leg; the double vision; the balance issues. She had good reason to be nervous, as did we. If this didn’t work, it would be our fault. She’d entrusted us with her safety, and her hope. 

Our morning thus far hadn’t exactly put her at ease. It started brilliantly, with a stop at Cole Sport, where they outfitted Eva with skis that would be just right for the occasion—comfy with spunk. From there, the road got bumpy. It involved booting up COVID-style, which is to say, standing on one foot in a dimly lit garage to put on cold boots, then marching in them for an eternity.

En route, Eva reiterated everything she feared, while we assured her of what we truly believed, namely, “You’ve got this!” This sport she had been doing since age two was embedded in her bones. It would all come back to her. But, what if skiing was another task—like walking, speaking and so many other things—that had to be painstakingly relearned? What if it wasn’t automatic? By the time we made it to the snow, our confidence, too, was shaky.

Then again, Eva didn’t earn the nickname “Bulldog” for backing away from a challenge. After two tentative runs on the bunny slope, she agrees it’s time to take on a big run, and here we stand.

Heidi, Deer Valley’s Ambassador of Skiing for the past 20+ years, leads the way, her hot pink pants setting the course, while Kristi and l deploy as Eva’s wing women, ready to take out anyone who intrudes her space.

Eva pushes off alone, a metaphor for this sport. Cole Sport could make sure she had perfectly tuned gear. We could get her onto the snow safely. Deer Valley could take care of the immaculate grooming. But nobody gets in the starting gate with you.

From behind, I capture her first turns on video. She’s standing on her skis, perfectly centered, planting her pole, doing short swing turns that would have made her parents Georg and Halina, both ski instructors, proud. As she gains speed, the skis engage and reward her embedded skill and muscle memory with rhythm and rebound. 

By the time Eva stops, partway down the aptly named “Success” run, she’s no longer talking about what feels wrong or different. She is smiling the big Eva smile, unmarred by worry or fear or anything but pure joy. At each break, the smile grows. “I thought I’d never do this. I thought I might fall on my face!” We’re crying. We’re hugging. It’s…awesome.

What came before and after was not all unicorns and rainbows. It was a huge step in a non-linear recovery, punctuated with frustration and tension, but also humor, relief, and mostly, that sweet taste of victory—a true team victory. 

Kristi and Heidi made this moment happen, but throughout Eva’s entire recovery, her ski team has been by her side. During her intensive work at the High Fives Foundation and the Brain Health Restoration Clinic, scores of teammates from near and far—some she’d competed with, others she had inspired, and quite a few she had dated—rallied to provide care and support.

As Eva’s baseline recalibrates, so too does her ambition. Her recovery milestones, still hard-won, are progressively satisfying and visible: swimming in the ocean, riding a bike, surfing, skiing, getting a driver’s license, traveling solo.

Over the next few days, as her confidence grew, so did her on-snow tribe. They included Stella Robinson, the oldest daughter of our teammate Tori Pillinger Robinson; Doug Lewis, fellow 1985 bronze medalist; and Kristi’s husband John Cumming, a stalwart U.S. Ski Team supporter and an even bigger Eva supporter. Erik Schlopy came for an apres-ski visit, while teammates, coaches, and friends tuned in by phone and on social media, to share this victory lap.

On the final day, as Eva cruised down Birdseye, the run we’d trained on during the Park City World Cups, a conspicuously hot ski racer interrupted his photoshoot to ski over. Steve Nyman introduced himself, said he was watching, and that he was impressed. Once again, the ski tribe had spoken. Eva summed it up well: “Skiing through this…this is my Olympic medal.”

Just a few of the many US Ski & Snowboard alumni who have been part of Eva’s recovery: 
Anouk Patty
Kristi Terzian
Heidi Voelker
Edie Thys
Barry Thys
Polly Reiss
Juli Furtado
Tamara McKinney
Hilary Lindh
Ernst Hager
All kinds of Standteiners
Kirsten and Andreas Rickenbach
Amy Livran
Daron Rahlves
Bill Hudson
John and Lynda Walsh
Doug Lewis
Erik Schlopy
Steve Nyman

Skiing and Tennis Collide: Shiffrin Talks Psychology, Pressure, and Legacy with Swiatek

By Megan Harrod
April, 20 2021
Mikaela Shiffrin Cortina
Recently, on Instagram Live, two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin—pictured here in Cortina after her super-G bronze—caught up with Polish professional tennis player and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek. (Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Recently, on Instagram Live, two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin caught up with Polish professional tennis player and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek. The two, who are 2021 Laureus Sport Award nominees—Swiatek for Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year and Shiffrin for Laureus World Comeback of the Year—talked about everything from psychology to pressure and the topic of legacy. 

Back in February, 19-year-old Swiatek had told Tennis Channel that Shiffrin was a role model for her in terms of competitive resilience, so this interview proved an opportunity to learn even more from the 26-year-old. Since then, the two have been in touch on social media. The IG Live conversation turned the heads of many in the sport world, including the Women's Tennis Association (WTA)

The article shared, 

Shiffrin has also experienced the unique feeling of being a teenage champion. The American remains the youngest slalom champion in Olympic alpine skiing history, having won gold in the discipline at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics when she was 18 years old. She was thus in the perfect position to dole out wise words as Swiatek's Roland Garros title defence approaches.

"I don't know how I'm going to react," Swiatek said. "I've never been in a situation like that, even at a normal tournament, so I think we're going to be prepared for anything and we're just going to adjust. Everybody's going to have expectations so you just have to be in your own world."

Shiffrin's advice was to focus on the positives.

"The way people talk about it is like almost as if it's some negative thing," she said. "That it's like a big thunderstorm that's coming and it's going to be so difficult to handle. I said, I don't know, why don't we just be happy about it? Because it's a really great position to be in. Any question you get, if it's positive, then just go with it. But if it's ever trying to put pressure on you... change it in your mind, just to think what a cool position I'm in to be a defending champion already in my career."
 

Laureus World Sports Award winners will be announced on May 6th. A specialist panel of over 1,000 sports journalists is invited to select Laureus nominees each year, with the winners selected by the legendary Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy.

Read the full article on WTATennis.com. 

Injury Protection For Your National or FIS points

By Sam Damon
April, 16 2021
Injury Protection

There is no such thing as a "Points Freeze." Points will either go down (through performance) or they will go up (through performance, inactivity, or injury). Applying for injury protection limits the amount your points will go up, but they do not freeze.

Athletes must maintain appropriate USSA and FIS memberships to maintain points.

For FIS, any application that is submitted to FIS after April 30 will not be considered, there are no exceptions to this rule. I have the date for submittal to USSA as April 15 to give time to apply, review and finalize applications.

FIS uses an online application. To begin the process, send an email to Jeff Weinman (jeff.weinman@usskiandsnowboard.org) and include the following information.

- Athlete name
- Email address for athlete
- FIS ID
- Date of injury
- Time of injury (approximate time of day)

You will then need a letter from the athlete's doctor that includes their name, a description of the injury, and the actual date of injury, to complete the process. The date of injury should match between the letter and the form. The only exception to this would be if say you had an original date of injury that caused you tried to work through and later cause removal from competition - include both those dates if this is the case.

If you are injured for more than one year in a row, you must apply for injury protection each year - the protection does not carry over.

 

NATIONAL RULES (from the Competition Guide):

Single Penalization Situations

(sickness, injury, other obligations)

Competitors who are unable to compete in sufficient scored events to maintain their seed points because of injury or illness, studies, military obligations, or church commitments may protect their points through single penalization. Single penalization cannot be requested for lack of calendar opportunities.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard and FIS membership must be renewed every year to maintain points, even when an athlete has single penalty protection. FIS membership must be renewed by June 15 to appear on the first FIS list and maintain FIS points.

Application forms and medical certificates must be submitted by the dates listed earlier in this book under Alpine Important Dates - there are no exceptions to the deadlines.

Injury or Illness

Single penalization is determined at the end of the season. Documentation of injury with inability to compete information should be submitted immediately to U.S. Ski & Snowboard Competition Services staff.

For a competitor to obtain a single penalty, he or she must submit the FIS and/or the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Single Penalty Request forms, which include:

1. Name, FIS or national ID, and address of the athlete,

2. Time/Date and place of the accident,

3. Type of injury,

4. Athletes signature with date.

A separate Medical Certificate from the athlete’s physician detailing the injury and length of inability to compete is also required. This letter must include the date of the injury.

Inability to compete for more than one year, due to injury or illness, will result in a single penalty each year if requested by the athlete. Single penalization will be in addition to any general zeroing adders or other adjustments to the total list.

Professional, Educational, Military, or Religious Obligations

Applications for single penalization due to professional obligations must be submitted prior to the beginning of the period indicated. Later applications will not be considered.

Approval of Single Penalty Requests - national points

Single penalty applications are not automatically approved. Approval depends on the timing of injury or illness, duration of inability to compete, and the number of starts and/or results made (three starts or two finishes in DH or SG, or five starts in SL or GS normally disqualify single penalty requests).

Consideration and approval of national single penalty requests and forwarding of FIS requests is the responsibility of the Competition Services staff, whose decisions are subject to appeal in writing to the chairman of the Alpine Classification Working Group.

There is no such thing as a "Points Freeze". Points will either go down (through performance) or they will go up (through performance, inactivity, or injury). Applying for injury protection limits the amount your points will go up, but they do not freeze.

Athletes must maintain appropriate USSA and FIS memberships to maintain points.

For FIS, any application that is submitted to FIS after April 30 will not be considered, there are no exceptions to this rule. I have the date for submittal to USSA as April 15 to give time to apply, review and finalize applications.

FIS uses an online application - see the tab FIS Process. A letter from the athlete's doctor that includes their name, a description of the injury, and the actual date of injury, must be included. The date of injury should match between the letter and the form. The only exception to this would be if say you had an original date of injury that caused you tried to work through and later cause removal from competition - include both those dates if this is the case.

If you are injured for more than one year in a row, you must apply for injury protection each year - the protection does not carry over.

 

FIS RULES (from the FIS Rules of the Points book)

4.6Injury Status

4.6.1Registration

When a competitor injures himself and applies for the single penalty, the National Ski Association must apply to the FIS as soon as possible or latest 30th April for the approval using the official form and submitting a medical certificate. This official form and medical certificate are only valid for one season. (World Cup: see World Cup Rules art 21.2)

4.6.1.1Conditions

- At least 8 months must have been passed between the time of the injury and the competitors 1st start.

- Competitors must remain registered as active with the FIS to maintain injury protection.

- A competitor has not started more than five (5) times (FIS and COC level competitions) + four (4) times (World Cup competitions) in one event and/or more than fifteen (15) times (FIS and COC level competitions + eight (8) times (World Cup competitions) across all events during the valid season.

4.6.1.2WCSL Top 30

Athletes who are ranked in the top 30 of the WCSL at the time of their injury and who will be ranked outside top 30 of the WCSL after applying the single penalty according to art. 21.4 of the World Cup rules, will get the better of their normally calculated FIS points for the BL or the points of the rank in the BL FIS point list which equates to their rank in the WCSL.

Notes on the above section

Once you are over the start limit count in one discipline, you are ineligible for protection in all disciplines.

Point Calculations

4.2FIS Points

4.2.1Base FIS Points list (BL) (*)

The Base FIS Points List (BL) will be published middle of June.

4.2.1.1The average of the best two results in each event during the past season will be used for the calculation of the BL list.

4.2.1.2For a competitor who has obtained only one result in any of the alpine events (Downhill, Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G or Alpine Combined), during the past season period, 20% (+) of his result will be added to the result.

4.2.1.3For a competitor who has not obtained results in any of the alpine events (Downhill, Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G or Alpine Combined), during the past season period, a 50% (>) will be added to his previous BL points. These competitors must remain registered as active with the FIS.

4.2.1.4If the status as injured is approved, and a competitor has not started more than five (5) times (FIS and COC level competitions) plus four (4) times (World Cup competitions) in one event and/or more than fifteen (15) times (FIS and COC level competitions) plus eight (8) times (World Cup competitions) across all events during the valid season 10% (#) will be added to the competitor’s BL if the current points are not better than the protected points.

Stiegler Caps Off 19-Year Career with National Title and Big Smile

By Megan Harrod
April, 16 2021
Resi Stiegler Victorious in Final Race
For U.S. Ski Team alumna and three-time Olympian Resi Stiegler (pictured above, celebrating with her teammates and friends in the finish area), Friday’s slalom victory at U.S. Alpine Championships at Aspen Highlands, Colo. was the cherry on top of a storied 19-year career. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

For U.S. Ski Team alumna and three-time Olympian Resi Stiegler, Friday’s slalom victory at U.S. Alpine Championships at Aspen Highlands, Colo. was the cherry on top of a storied 19-year career. Team X Alpine and University of Utah’s Madi Hoffman was second, .30 seconds back, and Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team and University of Denver athlete Katie Hensien rounded out the podium in third. 

After almost two weeks of sun-splashed days at Aspen Highlands, a late-season snowstorm dumped about eight inches of snow on the track for the final day of racing at the 2021 U.S. Alpine Championships. Organizers, athletes, and coaches descended upon the track early Friday morning to slip the excess snow down to a surface they could race on, then organizers poured water and salt on the track in an effort to salvage the surface. It wasn’t pretty, but the hard work paid off, and athletes and staff alike were stoked to pull off the final day of racing successfully with the slalom after a long season, challenged by COVID-19. 

Hoffman, who was in 14th-place after the first run, 1.2 seconds out, took advantage of a solid start spot and put the foot on the gas to cruise to the fastest second run, .68 seconds ahead of Stiegler’s second-fastest second run. Hensien, who was sitting in 10th after the first run, skyrocketed to third place, with the third-fastest second run time, to claim her spot on the podium. Canada's Stefanie Fleckenstein was sitting in second after first run but did not finish the second run, and Klomhaus straddled just before the finish and was disqualified. Hoffman was the top junior on the day, followed by Canada’s Sarah Bennett in second, and Kiara “Kiki” Alexander in third. 

When Stiegler realized she had won (her first national title since 2017 in Sugarloaf, ME), her current and former teammates and competitors Hoffman, Hensien, Allie Resnick, Emma Resnick, Tricia Mangan, AJ Hurt, and more, rushed to her to congratulate her and give her hugs. No one does a finish area celebration like Stiegler, and she will be remembered for her absolute pure love—which is unmatched and palpable even through a TV screen—for the sport of skiing. 

Stiegler was overjoyed to cap her career with a victory on home soil. “It feels so good...this was the absolute best way to go out,” Stiegler beamed. To be honest, I kind of had to stay focused to the very end, because I’m a fighter and I’ve always wanted to win everything. I know in these days you want to celebrate everything and be ready to retire, but for me, I wanted to win so badly and go out with the fight I’ve always had and the best skiing I’ve always had.” 

With her brother Seppi coaching her, and her best friend and U.S. Ski Team alumna Sarah Schleper there to cheer her on, Stiegler felt supported and loved for her final show, and was stoked for it to happen on home turf. “So I just had to stay super focused, and today I was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been, but I had my brother (Seppi) here on the hill and my best friend (Sarah Schleper) went up on the hill and got me fired up...so that always helps a little bit,” she giggled. “And obviously racing in Aspen again, it’s like our home hill, we race World Cups here, it’s close to Jackson, and it’s in the U.S. They put on a great show for the last race of the season for all of us.” 

Resi Stiegler’s Career At-A-Glance

  • World Cup Starts: 178
  • World Cup Podiums: 1
    • SL, 2nd, Ofterschwang, GER, 2012
  • World Cup Top-Fives: 7
  • World Cup Top-10s: 25
  • World Championship Teams: 8 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
    • Best result: sixth, SL, Santa Caterina, ITA, 2005
  • 3x Olympian
  • 4x National Champion 
  • 1 set of tiger ears that stood the test of time and the biggest heart and passion one could drum up 

Stiegler rounded up all of the athletes for a little pep talk following her victory, in which she congratulated them for making it through what was such a challenging season for everyone due to the pandemic. Athletes clapped, cheered for her, and even shed some tears as Stiegler encouraged everyone to keep believing in themselves and thanked everyone for being there for her final last race…“as Resi Stiegler anyway,” she laughed. Of course, Stiegler will be marrying German fiance David Ketterer, so the comment was a nod to potentially racing with a new last name. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by U.S. Ski Team (@usskiteam)

In the final Tom Garner Regions’ Cup results, Rocky/Central prevailed, with 2,045 points, followed by West with 1,713 points, and East with 1,384 points. 

Friday’s slalom caps the two-week-long U.S. Alpine Championships series at Aspen Highlands, and the long 2020-21 season, which has felt like an eternity to many. U.S. Ski & Snowboard would like to thank Aspen on behalf of all of the athletes and coaches for working tirelessly to make the event a reality. 

Until next year, cheers! 

RESULTS
Women’s slalom

Media:
Virtual Media Hub
 

Lundstam Rejoins U.S. Ski & Snowboard as Director of Alpine Sport Science

By Megan Harrod
April, 16 2021
Lundstam Rejoins U.S. Ski & Snowboard
U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced that Per Lundstam—pictured here with Steven Nyman at Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek, Colo. in 2007—has rejoined the organization as Director of Alpine Sport Science. (Doug Haney)

U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced that Per Lundstam has rejoined the organization as Director of Alpine Sport Science. 

Lundstam rejoins the organization after an 11-year stint with Red Bull, where he served as the High Performance Manager. Prior to Red Bull, Lundstam worked with U.S. Ski & Snowboard from 1994 to 2010 as Head Strength Coach, working with the likes of Olympic champions Tommy Moe, Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, Lindsey Vonn, and Julia Mancuso. 

High Performance Director Troy Taylor is eager to bring Lundstam back into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard fold heading into the 2021-22 season, highlighted by the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. "There are very few (if any) people in the world that can match Per’s knowledge and experience of alpine sport science support, from being a former; World Cup level athlete, coach and sport science manager at U.S. Ski & Snowboard and most recently the Director of Athlete Performance at Red Bull," commented Taylor. "Per’s re-hiring clearly demonstrates U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s continued commitment to providing “Best in the World” support to our athletes and I’m excited for the role that Per will play in driving us forward as we help athletes to fulfill their dreams”.

Lundstam echoes Taylor's sentiments and is ready to hit the ground running. "I am thrilled to join the U.S. Ski & Snowboard organization again," exclaimed Lundstam. "I have always felt the pull to return to alpine skiing with a focus on high performance. I'm very honored to be a part of such a great and driven organization with clear goals and actions in place to achieve those goals. It will be inspiring to learn from all my new colleagues and the athletes as to where the sport has developed over the last 10 years and where the sport is going forward. I'm very excited to jump in with the team and work with all the stakeholders to push the energy and momentum further."

Lundstam is already at work with athletes at the Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah, effective April 12.