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Future Look at Ski Racing Development

By Tom Kelly
November, 17 2017
Future Look at Ski Racing Development

PARK CITY, Utah (Nov. 16, 2017) - Alpine ski racing has a long history of success in America. But how is it positioned for the future? U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding in America, is initiating evolutionary changes in how it will approach alpine ski racing with an eye on results at the 2022 and 2026 Olympics. The recommendations come after a nearly two-year analysis resulting in a program direction that will bring changes to team selection and development philosophy.

Beginning in the spring of 2016, U.S. Ski & Snowboard undertook a comprehensive, in-depth analysis to better understand and learn both from its own alpine development system and those of other major nations in the sport. The Project 26 study represented an evolutionary change in how U.S. Ski & Snowboard, along with its regional and club network, will approach national team selection and development programming in the future - specifically with an eye on results at the 2026 Olympics and beyond.

The result of these studies will be a new foundation of criteria for naming annual A-B-C Teams, as well as an innovative new methodology for inviting and managing athletes into the alpine development program. Key changes that will include:

  • Refine U.S. Ski Team programming to focus on winning medals with selection criteria specifically focused on athletes who are on track to win medals.
  • Shift from a national-managed D team to a shared elite development model between U.S. Ski & Snowboard and clubs.
  • U.S. Ski & Snowboard will work more closely with regions and clubs to create a deeper pool of elite developing athletes from 12 to 20 years old.
  • Direct resources towards high-level coaching expertise as well as club and coach education.

"Our success as a nation in alpine ski racing is predicated on our club and regional programs to work in concert with U.S. Ski & Snowboard with an eye on our Best in the World vision," said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw. "The development phase of Project 26 took a deep look into what has worked for both the USA and top foreign nations in our sport. Its implementation will help us to be competitive as we head into the next two Olympic cycles  and beyond."

U.S. Ski & Snowboard will begin implementation of Project 26 immediately. With the onset of the 2017-18 competition season this month, selection criteria for the 2018-19 U.S. Ski Team have now been announced and are reflective of the recommended direction.

The Project 26 working group was comprised of leaders from U.S. Ski & Snowboard's board and the alpine racing community. Their work in surveying domestic and international program leaders was reviewed extensively by our alpine staff to come to a final direction.