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Patient Notes: Dichotomies

By Breezy Johnson
January, 3 2019
Breezy Johnson - Patient Notes, v.4
Breezy Johnson in the start gate at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain in November 2017. (Troy Tully)

Editor's Note:
Breezy Johnson (Victor, ID) sustained an ACL tear in September that has sidelined her for the 2019 season. Throughout Johnson's road to recovery, she'll be sharing the ups and downs of rehabilitation here in a column of her own, entitled "Patient Notes," in hopes that you will follow along for the journey to learn how challenging it is both physically and mentally to return to snow at the elite level. Being an injured athlete can be challenging and lonely, and we're hoping that by writing this column, Johnson will be able to stay connected to the community and her sponsors.

Johnson kicked off her series with a poignant pre-surgery piece with Patient Notes: Volume 2, she brought you all the post-op nitty gritty, and with Patient Notes: Volume 3, she talked about ferocity and frustration. She's thankful for your support and invites you to follow along on her Instagram. All of the words below are Johnson's thoughts, straight from her journal to your computer screen.

Enjoy the journey,

Megan Harrod 
Alpine Communications Manager


12/11/2018: 82 days post-Op, 99 days post injury


Perhaps this has been the hardest installment of this series to write. That is part of why it has taken me so long. It seems I have hit the middle stage of recovery: the in between part where I am both progressing and content and also anxious and depressed. It’s difficult to say how this could be, but as I write it I find it to be undeniably true. I have reached a point of juxtapositions, where I am both happy and unhappy, worried and calm, lost and moving toward an obvious goal. My mind is trying to make sense of these dichotomies, but like quicksand, that often just ensnares me further.

I feel good. That has been both a blessing and a curse as it did prior to surgery. My knee hardly causes me discomfort, perhaps less than some of my body’s other aches and pains. This is good - swelling and pain are never things that you want to deal with. But the relief from my body has frustrated my mind. I want to run. I want to jump. I can feel the lack of strength and I crave to banish it as soon as possible. And yet I cannot, bound as I am to a set of rules that I hardly understand and that seem to constantly tell me no. I also feel distinctly not good. My impatience and insatiability for progress is one part of this. The start of the World Cup speed tour is another part. A big part.

I thought I would be fine. I had watched previous recordings of Lake Louise and Garmisch. I watched, and even looked forward to, Levi and Killington. But watching your peers carry on without you is a whole different battle. Watching your races is something else. I didn’t watch Lake Louise live. I couldn’t. At the time I was in Beaver Creek watching the men and I quickly found watching the ladies to be more challenging than it ought to have been considering we were at a ski race. I heard the results. It stung to be sure.

I love my fellow competitors on the World Cup, but it is difficult to not feel like I could have, would have, beaten them. But when I watched the race a whole different problem occurred: I could practically feel my muscles trying to jump out of my skin and into my television screen. I physically itched to get back there. I watched Mikaela’s run in both Lake Louise and St. Moritz and it was as though I was skiing it. It was amazing for those blissful moments when I could forget that I was sitting on the couch and not rocketing off of jumps, feeling my stomach jump into my throat. And then I would come crashing back to reality, to reality that I was not in fact there, that her runs, her amazing runs, were not in fact my own. That I was at home and could not go get swiss chocolate afterwards, and I felt farther from my return to the White Circus than ever.

We ski racers are sprinters. A maximum of two minutes of pure adrenaline and we’re done. Injury perhaps is better designed for marathoners, an aerobic endeavor to be sure. Perhaps I’m just not built for a recovery that takes months; I’m more of a minute-to-minute gal. The amount of time I have taken on my recovery both reminds me of how far I have come, which I am grateful for, but also serves to tell me just how long the remainder will take. Even though I am hoping to get back on snow in a relatively short time frame, my time until I am back on a race course, until I truly get to live the feeling I saw Mikaela living in Lake Louise and St. Moritz, seems an ungodly amount of time still left ahead of me.

I wish I could write a happy-go-lucky post. I wish I could just feel that all is well because there are things that are going great and I am very excited about that. I’m moving into plyometrics and I had good strength test results, which are good signs. But I am always seeking to get better, I constantly want more, and I struggle with being content with what is. Somehow I get in front of this page and I suddenly write down my deepest struggles. I come here and my mind becomes strung between feeling as though I ought to be happy and fine and the reality which is that I feel conflicted and bitter sometimes but also pleased and fortunate. And I don’t know if that is likely to change in the near future. And I know now that “near future” is a very relative term.

Perhaps the only thing keeping these chaotic thoughts from swelling up and engulfing me whole has been the friends I have created, mostly in the PT room at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah. Almost weekly, we all meet up for dinner to laugh and joke and both forget about our injuries and discuss them. We take pictures and hang out and my friends make me feel less alone.  They distract me and comfort me and remind me that while we are not on the tour, our injuries are just a detour on our way back to the World Cup.

L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships Start Thursday at Craftsbury Outdoor Center

By Reese Brown
January, 2 2019
Craftsbury Outdoor Center
The 2019 L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships begin Thursday at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Reese Brown)

The 2019 L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships begin Thursday at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vermont. The event runs through January 8 and will attract the nation’s top junior and senior athletes, including many coming back from World Cup competition as the event is a qualifier for the upcoming World Championships in Seefeld, Austria, as well as several Junior championships.

“We are excited to have Craftsbury Outdoor Center host the 2019 L.L. Bean U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Cross Country Sport Development Manager Bryan Fish. “Craftsbury has shown time and again that they are willing to go the extra mile to plan and prepare even when adverse weather conditions potentially strike by making and stockpiling snow. We are confident that Craftsbury will host a great championships.”

Events at the L.L. Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships will include for the men: 15k classic, sprint classic, 30k freestyle mass start, sprint freestyle, and for the women: 10k classic, sprint classic, 20k freestyle mass start, sprint freestyle. The full event schedule is available here and all race results will be posted here.

Senior athletes will be competing for World Championship and World Cup berths. U.S. National Championships are weighted as double Super Tour points, and therefore have a significant impact on who represented the United States at 2019 World Championships in Seefeld, Austria.

The L.L. Bean U.S. National Championships are also the selection events for the World Under 23 Team and Junior World Team in Lahti, Finland, Under-18 Nordic Nation’s Championships in Otepaa, Estonia, as well as 2020 Youth Olympic Games on Lausanne, Switzerland.

The 2019 U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships will be Pay-Per-View. The overall goal of live-streaming is to increase exposure to our sport, strengthen the fan base and target future support to our Super Tour hosts with the intent to help offset a portion of the athlete prize money. Please tune and spread the word that US Nationals can be viewed here:


Thursday, January 3
10/15k classic individual start

Friday, January 4
Classic sprint

Sunday, January 6
20/30k freestyle mass start for seniors, 5/10k classic for juniors

Tuesday, January 8
Freestyle sprint

All times EST

Thursday, Jan. 3
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships classic individual start - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Friday, Jan. 4
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships classic sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Sunday, Jan. 6
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle mass start - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Tuesday, Jan. 8
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming


One Month Out: 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships

By Andrew Gauthier
January, 2 2019
Capacity Crowd at Deer Valley
A crowd of over 5,000 packed the finish area at the freestyle World Cup aerials at the 2010 Visa Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard -Tom Kelly)

With only one month to go, athletes, officials and fans from around the world are into their final preparations for the kick-off of the 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships, presented by Toyota taking place at Utah's Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain, both in Park City, and Solitude Mountain Resort, February 1-10, 2019.

Hosted by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and U.S. Ski & Snowboard and in partnership with the Utah Sports Commission, the event will attract approximately 1,400 athletes from 40 countries to Utah, the state of sport, for the biggest winter sports event to take place in the state since the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

The next three weeks are critical, as each nation will select their 2019 FIS World Championship Teams. FIS has established that a maximum of 36 athletes representing any one nation may compete in the 2019 World Championships in freestyle/freeski as well as in snowboarding. The maximum quota for a nation in any one event will be four per gender up to the max total per gender of 20 athletes and max total team size of 36 athletes. Athletes named to the team will start in the event from which they qualified.

The U.S. will select up to three athletes per discipline per gender based on objective criteria, which varies by sport. After the allocation of objective criteria between all World Championship disciplines, any remaining nation quota positions for U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes in each discipline will be filled by selection from the head coaches and sport director based on the discipline/gender with the highest medal potential.

U.S. athletes are coming into 2019 with strong results in early selection events. In freeski, defending FIS Halfpipe World Champion Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, Colo.) and double-Olympic gold medalist David Wise, finished in first and third place respectively at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado. For the women, PyeongChang Olympic bronze medalist Brita Sigourney (Carmel, Calif.) also made the podium with a third-place finish.

For the U.S. Snowboard Team, PyeongChang Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim kicked off the 2018-19 competition season at the U.S. Grand Prix with a victory, while teammate Maddie Mastro (Wrightwood, Calif.) finished just behind Kim in second-place. For the men, Toby Miller (Mammoth, Calif.) and Chase Josey (Sun Valley, Idaho) finished second and third respectively.

On similar note in the snowboardcross world, defending FIS World Champion Lindsey Jacobellis (Stratton Mountain, Vt.) as well as 2018 Junior World Champion Jake Vedder (Pinckney, Mich.) started strong at the first World Cup of the season. Jacobellis claimed a first and second place across a two race program at the Cervinia, Italy FIS World Cup as well as earned her 30th career World Cup victory. In addition, Vedder claimed his his first ever World Cup podium.

“To get my first ever World Cup podium at a World Championship qualifying event makes it that much more special,” said Vedder. “The whole team is riding at such a high level and it really helps me push myself to be better everyday we are on snow. I really look forward to coming back to the US and compete for our hometown crowd.”

In freestyle, Jaelin Kauf (Alta, Wyo.) is also setting herself up for World Championships success. She won back-to-back FIS Freestyle World Cup moguls and dual moguls events in Thaiwoo, China Dec. 15-16. Kauf is currently ranked as the top female moguls skier in the world and leads the World Cup tour. As the reigning World Champion in aerials, Jon Lillis (Rochester, N.Y.) has an automatic competition spot outside of the U.S. Team and will be a force to watch. The aerials FIS World Cup season kicks off in Lake Placid, N.Y. Jan. 18-19.

It’s not only the athletes preparing for the World Championships, but also the host venues getting ready for a robust competition schedule (see below). However, there are no resorts better prepared to put on an event of this magnitude as Solitude Mountain Resort, Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort. In fact, Olympians Alex Deibold (Manchester, Vt), Devin Logan (West Dover, Vt.) and Brad Wilson (Butte, Mont.) had tremendous comments of praise for these world class venues.

Image removed.

With 10 days of world class competition be sure to tune-in and watch as history is made. NBC Sports will showcase more than 25 hours of 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championship programming, including more than 10 hours of live coverage, on NBC and the NBC Sports networks.

Additional coverage will also be available on NBC Sports Gold – NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer live streaming product – and the digital platform. A full broadcast schedule will be available on both and

All times EST
Preliminary broadcast schedule, subject to change
Streaming schedule TBA
*Same-day broadcast
**Next-day broadcast

Friday, Feb. 1
1:00 p.m. - Men and women's snowboardcross finals - NBCSN

Saturday, Feb. 2
3:00 p.m. - Men and women’s skicross finals - Olympic Channel
8:30 p.m. - Men and women’s skicross finals - NBCSN*

Sunday, Feb. 3
1:00 a.m. - Men and women’s freeski big air finals - NBCSN**
1:00 p.m. - Team snowboardcross - Olympic Channel
4:00 p.m.-  Team snowboardcross - NBCSN*

Monday, Feb. 4

3:00 p.m. - Parallel snowboard giant slalom - Olympic Channel
7:00 p.m. - Parallel snowboard giant slalom - NBCSN*

Tuesday, Feb. 5
3:00 p.m. - Parallel snowboard slalom - NBCSN
9:00 p.m. - Men and women’s snowboard big air - NBCSN

Wednesday, Feb. 6
3:00 p.m. - Men and women’s freeski slopestyle finals - NBCSN
9:00 p.m. - Men and women’s aerials - Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. - Men and women’s aerials - NBCSN*

Thursday, Feb. 7
9:00 p.m. - Team aerials - NBCSN

Friday, Feb. 8
1:00 p.m. - Men and women’s snowboard  halfpipe - NBCSN
9:00 p.m. - Men and women’s moguls - NBCSN

Sunday, Feb. 10
2:00 a.m. - Men and women’s dual moguls - NBCSN**
1:00 p.m. - Men and women’s snowboard slopestyle - Olympic Channel
3:00 p.m. - Men and women’s snowboard slopestyle - NBC*

Monday, Feb. 11
10:30 p.m. - Women’s freeski halfpipe finals - NBCSN**

Elite Athletes to Compete at the 2019 FIS Lake Placid Freestyle Cup

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 2 2019
2018 FIS Lake Placid Freestyle Cup
2018 FIS Lake Placid Freestyle Cup (Reese Brown - U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

For the 38th year, the world’s best elite freestyle skiers will descend on New York state for the 2019 FIS Lake Placid Freestyle Cup, January 17-19, 2019. Catch all of the high-flying action with moguls at Whiteface on Thursday and Friday and aerials under the lights at the Olympic Jumping Complex on Saturday.

“Lake Placid is one of the most exciting events of the season-long World Cup, showcasing moguls and aerials at one of the tour’s highest-quality competition arenas, and with some of the greatest spectators on the tour. Lake Placid has been the site of many breakout performances from U.S. athletes, who’ve gone on to establish themselves at the top of the sport, and on many occasions has helped the U.S. Team to generate the momentum to go on to win medals at the World Championships and Olympic Games. This year’s event will be no different, with the World Championships beginning just two weeks later in Utah. The events in Lake Placid will determine the World Championship team in aerials and will be a key selection event in moguls. Our team has its sights set on best in the world performances at the World Championships in Utah, and their performance at the World Cup in Lake Placid will set the tone for what they aim to achieve,” said Chief of Sport for U.S. Ski & Snowboard Luke Bodensteiner.

There will be more than 150 athletes competing across 15 nations. The 2019 Lake Placid Freestyle Cup is an important stop on the FIS Freestyle World Cup circuit for American athletes, as results from this event will impact the 2019 World Championship Freestyle Team nominations. Aerials athletes will be named to the team based on results from this World Cup event, in addition to U.S. Nationals, taking place at Lake Placid on January 26. Moguls athletes will be named to the team based on World Cup standings through January 28, 2019. The Lake Placid Freestyle Cup is the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team’s only domestic stop before the 2019 FIS World Championships in Utah in February.

“We are thrilled that this World Cup event continues to come back to Lake Placid year after year,” added New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) President/CEO Mike Pratt. “Whether it’s moguls at Whiteface or the aerials at the Olympic Jumping Complex, these athletes provide breathtaking excitement that’s hard to match.”

A complete schedule of events can be found at Spectators and competitors are encouraged to join in the conversation on social media with #LPWorldCup.

New this year is a VIP experience for Saturday night’s aerials event. Tickets are $75 and will include premier indoor and outdoor viewing areas, dinner and two drinks. A cash bar will also be available. Must be 21 and older to purchase. For all ticketing information, please visit

For more information on the 2019 FIS Lake Placid Freestyle Cup, please contact Lara Carlton at

Members of the media may apply for an event press credential at

Salko and Silas: The Dynamic Duo

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 2 2019
Lauren Salko at the Pitztaler-Gletscher is Austria
Lauren Salko at the Pitztaler-Gletscher is Austria

The life of a winter sport athlete is busy, chaotic and simply tiring. Between training, eating properly, packing the right equipment, competing and traveling all over the world, these athletes have to put in 100-percent to making their dreams a reality.

But Lauren Salko (Larchmont, N.Y.) seems to defy all odds by putting in 110-percent into her ski career. Salko is a 27-year-old skicross athlete with dreams of making the U.S. Freeski Team. Unlike her teammates, Lauren has to think about packing, eating and training a lot more when she is on her way to the mountain.

When Salko was young, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a form of diabetes where your body doesn’t produce insulin and in turn causes low energy. For a skicross athlete, having Type 1 diabetes can be a major set-back and force an athlete to stop training or competing.  

“It may seem like it’s not a big deal because I don’t talk about it, but when we are packing for the hill everyone is like ‘Okay do I have my helmet, my boots, my goggles, and my skis.’ and I am like ‘Okay do I have my helmet, boots, goggles, skis, extra insulin, extra snacks, and extra everything,’” says Lauren, “and there have definitely been some training struggles too.”

Luckily, Lauren has supportive teammates and coaches that will help her carry extra things and be there if she needs help. Her top supporter, however, is not someone you’d typically expect.    

Meet Silas, a four-year-old lab designated as Lauren’s personal diabetes alert dog. He has been trained to smell Lauren’s blood sugar levels and alert her when they get too low or too high at any point in the day. “Before I had him, I was checking my blood sugar three or four times in the middle of the night so that I could make sure it was in a good place before I woke up for training and competing to be optimal.”  

Silas is nothing short of extraordinary. He is accurate in smelling Lauren’s levels, making him a necessity during her training and competing.  “I have a continuous glucose monitor on my phone and he normally alerts me 10 to 15 minutes before that goes off. He is pretty amazing.”

Since Lauren travels all over the world for training, Silas has also learned to be an easy travel companion. When flying, Silas sits under the seat in front of Lauren and stays there until the flight is over, no sleeping drugs required. “He doesn’t even go to the bathroom on the plane. I even give him the option to on a potty pad but he has never taken me up on the offer,” remarks Lauren.

Getting onto the plane is a different story. According to the Air Carriers Act, which is the law that governs service dogs on airplanes, it is not legally required to have any documentation for service dogs. However, airlines have started to request more information, which has led Lauren to preparing a lot more than she is used to. She typically needs to send a form to the vet to get it signed, as well as declare Silas trained prior to flying. When traveling to Europe specifically, there is a health certificate required every time.  

The airport security is also a challenge. “He walks through with all his stuff on and sets the alarm off every time,” says Lauren, “Sometimes they pat him down and scan my hands for explosives and sometimes they won’t.”

Despite these few traveling struggles, Lauren is beyond thankful for having Silas in her life. “It is nice just having a constant companion,” Lauren says, “Even when he isn’t working and doesn’t have his vest on, he is fun because he is just a normal puppy and has a lot of energy.”  

Salko gives a lot credit to Silas for her advancement as a skicross athlete and is able to further improve her skiing skills because of him. Her main goal for this upcoming season is to compete in the 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships presented by Toyota in Park City, Utah.

“It’s going to be challenging to make the team, but if I am not able to race I want to forerun so that I can get some time on the track,” she says. Lauren also hopes to get more comfortable in the air and improve on her placement in the Europa Cup.  

In addition to skiing, Salko is a Life in Full Color speaker for Tandem Diabetes Care. She has spoken at a multitude of summer camps for kids with diabetes, as well as events for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDFR), which is a major research funding organization for Type I diabetes. Salko loves to talk to the kids at these events and inspire them to be who they want to be. “I was really lucky because when I was diagnosed with Type 1 as a kid, nobody told ‘me you can’t do this, you can’t do that,’ but I am kind of in the minority in that,” says Lauren. “I really enjoy talking to the kids and showing them that you can do whatever you want you just have to plan it out and want it.”

Salko is a true inspiration to aspiring skicross athletes and to all who have been diagnosed with diabetes. With the help of her teammates, her loved ones, and her companion Silas, there is no doubt she will go far.

Follow Lauren and Silas on social media to follow along with their adventures:

Icing Skis Knock Diggins Out of Tour de Ski Lead

By Reese Brown
January, 2 2019
Women's TdS start in Oberstdorf, Germany
The women faced wet snow and sticky conditions in Wednesday's stage 4 classic race at the FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany. (Getty Images - Karl-Josef Hildenbrand)

Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) and Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) battled through an incredibly challenging classic 10k Wednesday to finish 11th and 15th respectively in the fourth stage of the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany. Unfortunately, the U.S. Team and many other teams missed the kick wax selection and were forced to fight with icing skis.

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway took the win by 0.1 seconds over Russia's Natalia Nepryaeva in second, and Anastasia Sedova in third.

“We missed the boat on the wax today, but I fought as hard as I could and I know I’m in great shape right now,” said Diggins. “I did everything I could with what I had today.  And now the pressure of the leader's bib is 100 percent off, and I'm just going to ski as hard as I can tomorrow and recover as smart as I can.”

Diggins now sits fourth in the Tour overall with Bjornsen sitting in 10th. The women’s Tour de Ski is now led by Oestberg.

“It’s a bummer to have a day like today because my body felt really good, and I really like this course for classic skiing, but that’s life,” said Bjornsen. “Sometimes you have to just laugh it off and hope you can learn something as a team from the experience. Thursday will be the last race of my tour, as I have planned to not complete the full tour this year and try to do a training block without too much-accumulated race fatigue.”

On the men’s side, Ben Lustgarten was the lone American in the 15k classic race and skied a gutsy fight in a very tight field to 57th in an event won by Emil Iversen of Norway. In second was Italian Francesco De Fabiani with Sergey Usitiugov of Russia third. The men’s tour is led by Norwegian Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo who finished ninth for the day.

The Tour de Ski stays in Oberstdorf for Thursday’s pursuit stage and will then head to Val di Fiemme, Italy, for the final two stages.

Men’s 15k Classic
Women’s 10k Classic

Men’s Overall (through 4 stages)
Women’s Overall (through 4 stages)

All times EST

Thursday, Jan. 3
7:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage 5 men’s 15k pursuit - Oberstdorf, GER - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships classic individual start - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming
9:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage 5 women’s 10k pursuit - Oberstdorf, GER - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold

Friday, Jan. 4
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships classic sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Saturday, Jan. 5
8:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 6 women’s 10k mass start - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold
9:10 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 6 men’s 15k mass start - Val di Fiemme, ITA - &NBC Sports Gold
2:00 p.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 6 men’s 15k mass start - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV*

Sunday, Jan. 6
7:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 women’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold 
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming
8:45 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 men’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - & NBC Sports Gold
2:00 p.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 men’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV

Tuesday, Jan. 8
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle mass start - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Vlhova Powers Past Shiffrin For City Event Win

By Tom Horrocks
January, 1 2019
Shiffrin Oslo 1-1-19
Mikaela Shiffrin finished second in Tuesday's FIS Ski World Cup city event in Oslo Norway. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom - Millo Moravski)

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova simple bashed her way to victory over Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) in Tuesday’s FIS Ski World Cup city event in Oslo, Norway.

In the big finals of the parallel slalom race, Vlhova used the two-handed cross-blocking technique to come away with her second victory in five days, defeating Shiffrin in both runs to deny the defending overall World Cup champion her third-straight city event victory. Shiffrin won the past two city events she participated in - Stockholm, Sweden, in 2017 and Oslo in 2018.

“Finally, I did it,” Vlhova said. “I beat Mikaela.”

Shiffrin, who entered the event as the top-ranked skier, advanced to the finals by defeating Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel in the opening round, then Canada’s Erin Mielzynski in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, she defeated Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener to advance into the big final against Vlhova.

The second-ranked Vlhova defeated Switzerland’s Aline Danioth in the opening round, Italy’s Irene Curtoni in the second round, and Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson in the semifinals to advance to the finals against Shiffrin.

"I have pretty mixed thoughts about today...I felt pretty off when the race started and in warm-up run we took," reflected Shiffrin after her race. "I barged in the start, and then preceded to barge about 50% of my runs in the race. My feeling in the first few runs was really wasn't quite 'on'. On one hand, I'm a little bit relieved, surprised, and pretty psyched to be on the podium, but by the time I got to the big final, I was feeling a lot more myself. I was still not timing my starts very well, but I was pushing on my skis the way I know that I can, so that was better. Petra skied disciplined, fast, and she skied smart. She took the risk in the first run when she needed to, and she was smart in the second run when she needed to be."

Vlhova, using her height to her advantage, and therefore the more aggressive double-blocking technique, opened a quarter-second advantage over Shiffrin in the first run. The technique allowed Vlhova to find valuable hundredths on the top and bottom of the course when it was straight and not turny. She applied the same technique in the second run to ski away with her sixth career World Cup win, and first city event victory. Holdener defeated Swenn Larsson in the small final for third.

Shiffrin also weighed in with thoughts about the cross-blocking technique Vlhova used, "I don't think that's why she won. I think it can be an advantage, and especially because she's tall, but that's not why she won. She won because she skied more disciplined and smarter on the two turns in the course where it counted the most. Sometimes you nail it and sometimes you don't. It's a learning experience either way." 

In the men’s event, Austria’s Marco Schwarz defeated Great Britain’s Dave Ryding for the victory. In the small final, Switzerland’s Ramon Zenhaeusern defeated Sweden’s Andre Myhrer for third.

With the victory, Vlhova took back 20 points from Shiffrin’s overall World Cup lead. However, Shiffrin still holds a commanding lead with 1,114 points to Vlhova’s 668 points in second.

Up next, the World Cup continues in Zagreb, Croatia, as the men and women will compete in a pair of night slaloms Saturday and Sunday for the coveted “Snow Queen Trophy“ 2019.

Men’s city event slalom
Women’s city event slalom

Men’s World Cup overall
Women’s World Cup overall

All times EST

Saturday, Jan. 5
7:00 a.m. - Women’s slalom run 1 - Zagreb, CRO - & NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. - Women’s slalom run 2 - Zagreb, CRO - Olympic Channel-TV, NBC Sports Gold

Sunday, Jan. 6
6:15 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 1 - Zagreb, CRO - & NBC Sports Gold
9:30 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 2 - Zagreb, CRO - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold

Caldwell, Diggins 2-3 In Val Mustair Sprint

By Reese Brown
January, 1 2019
Sophie and Jessie
Sophie Caldwell and Jessie Diggins celebrate in the finish going 2-3 in a photo finish in the stage 3 sprint Tuesday. (Getty Images - Trond Tandberg)

Sophie Caldwell (Stratton Mountain, Vt.) and Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) both landed on the podium Tuesday at the FIS Cross Country World Cup Tour de Ski freestyle sprint in Val Mustair, Switzerland. Diggins finished third and took the overall lead in the Tour de Ski through three stages. Caldwell skied a smart race and edged out Diggins at the line for second.

Diggins becomes only the second U.S. women to lead the Tour de Ski in its 13-year history. Kikkan Randall led after the 3k prologue in 2012.

The race was won by Sweden’s Stina Nilsson, her second sprint victory of the Tour. Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.) qualified sixth and narrowly missed advancing to the quarterfinals by .05 seconds.

“It’s so exciting to be putting on that blue leader's bib after today,” said Diggins. “We had great skis thanks to our team and it was so cool skiing with Sophie in the final! The course was tough as it’s at altitude and a longer course, with a really steep hill in the middle, so positioning was pretty important today. I was happy with how I skied the corners and rollers today and happy to be feeling good at this stage of the tour!”

“Today was an amazing day for our team,” said Caldwell. “It was a long, hard course at altitude, so it was pretty different from some of the shorter sprints we’ve been doing. My strategy in the final was to conserve as much energy as possible while maintaining good position and then give it everything I had up and over the top of the second hill while still saving a bit of legs for the downhills and sprint finish. It was so much fun to share the podium with Jessie and crazy how close of a photo finish it was. I think it must have come down to my Salomon boots being one size bigger than hers! We both had great skis and this course had some new downhill features like a jump and rollers that were fun to work through. I’m finished with the tour now, but I’m psyched to cheer my teammates on for the rest of it and its pretty awesome Jessie is the leader after today!”

Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Colo.) was the lone U.S. qualifier and ended up 13th for the day.  The men’s sprint was won by Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo of Norway, second was Italian Federico Pellegrino and Sergey Ustiugov of Russia complete the podium in third.

Stage 4 of the Tour de Ski takes place Wednesday in Oberstdorf, Germany with a women’s 10k mass start and a men’s 15k mass start.

Women’s sprint 
Men’s sprint 

Women’s overall 
Men’s overall

All times EST

Wednesday, Jan. 2
6:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage 4 women’s 10k mass start - Oberstdorf, GER - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage 4 men’s 15k mass start - Oberstdorf, GER - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold

Thursday, Jan. 3
7:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage 5 men’s 15k pursuit - Oberstdorf, GER - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships classic individual start - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming
9:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage 5 women’s 10k pursuit - Oberstdorf, GER - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold

Friday, Jan. 4
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships classic sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

Saturday, Jan. 5
8:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 6 women’s 10k mass start - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold
9:10 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 6 men’s 15k mass start - Val di Fiemme, ITA - &NBC Sports Gold
2:00 p.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 6 men’s 15k mass start - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV*

Sunday, Jan. 6
7:00 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 women’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold
9:15 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle sprint - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming
8:45 a.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 men’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - & NBC Sports Gold
2:00 p.m. - Tour de Ski Stage Stage 7 men’s hill climb - Val di Fiemme, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV

Tuesday, Jan. 8
8:45 a.m. - U.S. Cross Country Championships freestyle mass start - Craftsbury, Vt. - U.S. Ski & Snowboard Streaming

High Performance Center Program Adds Two New Clubs

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
January, 1 2019
Proctor Academy
New Hampshire's Proctor Academy ski area is the world’s finest high school-owned, private FIS homologated ski training facility featuring top to bottom lighting and snowmaking. (Proctor Academy)

U.S. Ski & Snowboard prides itself in having some of the most elite winter sport athletes in the world. Without the help of top-tier training centers and development clubs, however, the goal of being the best in the world would be nearly impossible for U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes.

The High Performance Center program, which was initiated in 2017, is the main way for the organization to connect with the growing training facilities across the country, as well as identify aspiring athletes that have the potential for the national team. This program encourages certified gold and silver clubs, who have excellence in athletic development, sports science, and sports medicine, to become a designated High Performance Center (otherwise known as HPC) with U.S. Ski & Snowboard, in hopes to improve the national system and developmental pathway for athletes.

“The whole process is to help elevate everyone,” says High Performance Coordinator for U.S. Ski and Snowboard Calin Butterfield. “We try to approach areas where we feel we can add value to bring everyone up to the same level, as well as learn from these centers to internally improve.” Butterfield, along with his team, has the goal of implementing consistent communication and collaboration with these clubs to elevate the nation as a whole in preparing athletes for snow sports competition.

The process for becoming an HPC for U.S. Ski & Snowboard starts with registering as a U.S. Ski & Snowboard club. Any U.S. Ski & Snowboard club has the opportunity to become certified as a bronze, silver, or gold status training facility by proving organizational, administrative, sports programming, and financial stability. Once a club is considered silver or gold status, they have the option to apply for HPC status and be reviewed for the program. According to Butterfield, the club must have “a fully functioning performance team,” which includes sports medicine staff, performance training or athletic development coaches on site, medical directors or strong relationships with a medical clinic, a facility to train, and some access to nutrition for athletes.  

Once a club becomes a High Performance Center, U.S. Ski & Snowboard provides consistent structured programming throughout the year. “We do multiple education workshops, where we go to them, try to bring them together as regions, or bring them all here to the Center of Excellence. Both HPC staff and our own staff benefit by learning in a collective, unified way,” says Butterfield. In addition to workshops, the staff of each HPC is encouraged to visit the Center of Excellence (COE) in Park City, Utah to spend time with national team coaches/sports development staff and create a proper communication network. “I also make visits to each HPC at least twice a year to observe, talk shop, and form that deeper connection,” says Butterfield.

Although it is only in its second year, the HPC program is rapidly growing to include some of the best training facilities and clubs in the country. In the first year, eight Gold-level clubs opted in to become an HPC: Burke Mountain Academy, Killington Mountain School, Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS), Stratton Mountain, Carrabassett Valley Academy, Squaw Valley Mountain, Sugarbowl Mountain, and Sun Valley Ski Academy. Almost 13 national alpine team athletes came from these clubs prior to their HPC designation, proving how worthy and valuable they are to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.  

Starting in the summer of 2018, two new developmental clubs, Proctor Academy ski area in New Hampshire and Mammoth Mountain in California, received the HPC title. These two clubs were reviewed and quickly accepted after it was decided that a partnership would be mutually beneficial. With many athletes training at both these facilities, as well as having long-standing relationships with U.S. Ski & Snowboard, there is much excitement for these partnerships.

"The impact from Proctor's HPC status has been immediate for our athletes and for our coaching staff. Collaboration with peer HPC clubs and talented U.S. Ski and Snowboard staff has provided real-time access to information, training, and collaboration to keep our program at the forefront of new developments in the sport of alpine skiing. From the weight room to on hill training environment, the partnership validates our commitment to keep our program advancing, and never allowing us to get complacent."

- David Salathe, Proctor Academy’s Alpine Program Director

“Our longstanding commitment to athletic excellence has been a Mammoth Mountain value since its inception. Becoming an official High Performance Center with US Ski and Snowboard was an integral step in our ongoing tradition of supporting the Olympic movement. We look forward to our continued partnership with U.S. Ski & Snowboard. Their Sport Science program, staff, and resources are truly world class. The Mammoth Mountain Ski & Snowboard Team is excited to see the development of our athletes and staff. Additionally, we are honored to play a part in the large-scale strategy of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s quest to further build upon the strength of the country’s winter sports programs.”     

-  Pete Korfiatis, Mammoth Mountain’s Director of Athletics

The potential impact of these HPCs is crucial for further success in winter sports. Not only will HPCs provide athletes to U.S. Ski & Snowboard Teams, but they will assist in creating a more cohesive, consolidated system for teaching and training.

“We are going to need to lean on the HPC clubs to further drive education at local and regional clubs,” says Butterfield. With the natural sharing of personnel, methods, techniques, and even athletes, the HPC program has a goal of unifying the snowsport community. “We are trying to systemize so that a) everyone is speaking the same language and b) we as a national governing body (NGB) are doing what we need to be doing to support the growth of the system outside of just the central location here at the Center of Excellence,” says Butterfield.

Troy Taylor, High Performance Director for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, agrees with this goal. “This is a 2 to 3-way education process. Yes, it’s about our systems and processes being implemented into these clubs, but it’s also about us learning techniques from them and about clubs collaborating between themselves and sharing the best practices,” he remarks. “From our perspective, we really value these partnerships and the motivation towards driving these programs towards success.”

With consistent collaboration, a clear vision for improvement, and the dedication to creating a more unified system, the HPC program has the potential to have a lot of impact on the success of the United States in snowsport competition. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is nothing short of proud to able to partner with these powerful centers and continue the work to become the best in the world.

Men’s Alpine Team Finds New European Home Base in Italy

By Megan Harrod
December, 31 2018

The men’s U.S. Alpine Ski Team has established a long-term partnership with Alpe Cimbra, Trentino as a European home base for training through the Olympic cycle, leading up to Beijing 2022.  

In a recent press conference hosted by Alpe Cimbra, Trentino, John McBride - head coach of the men’s speed team - spoke fondly of the partnership, and the first meeting in 2006 when Marco Dallapiccola, owner of IconWise LLC, worked on the first partnership between the U.S. Ski Team and Trentino Paganella Ski. Conversations between the two entities about the return of the U.S. Ski Team to Trentino, Italy, began again in summer of 2018.

"Marco Dallapiccola has been helping the team since 2006 and we are happy for this new partnership,” said McBride. Alpine Director Jesse Hunt echoed McBride’s sentiments about the partnership and its significance for the men’s alpine team.

“The men’s alpine team has forged a long-term relationship with Alpe Cimbra, Trentino, featuring world-class training and hospitality,” said Hunt. “This partnership will be an integral part of equipping our men’s alpine team with necessary resources and training as we head through the Olympic cycle en route to Beijing. For our athletes, who spend a majority of the winter in Europe away from home, the partnership with Alpe Cimbra, Trentino is a huge benefit.”

Prior to the Alta Badia, Italy, FIS Alpine Ski World Cup races in December, Alpe Cimbra hosted the men’s tech team, including Olympic Champion Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) and two-time Olympian Tommy Ford (Bend, Ore.), who followed that up with a career-best fifth place at Alta Badia. Following the Val Gardena, Italy, World Cup, where Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, Calif.) had a career-best fourth place, leading three into the top six - Steven Nyman (Sundance, Utah) and Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, Calif.) respectively - the men’s speed team enjoyed a week of training on the slopes of Alpe Cimbra. From there, they went to Bormio, Italy, and Bennett matched his career-best with another fourth place - just 15 hundredths of a second from the podium.

Michael Rech, President of the Tourism Board of Alpe Cimbra, said that the partnership has been successful since day one. “The team’s feeling with the destination has been positive since the beginning, with great training since the first day,” Rech said. “The U.S. Ski Team has admired the enormous efforts of the Folgaria Ski in preparing in few days the perfect slopes. Moreover, they have appreciated also the Ski Team Alpe Cimbra, in particular the trainers and volunteers who were working in creating the optimal conditions. They have been amazed by the sun that kisses our slopes, and for this reason it could be said that Alpe Cimbra looks like California!”

“We are honored,” Maurizio Rossini, CEO of Trentino Marketing, reflected, “to have the U.S. Ski Team back on the snow of Trentino after the great experience we had with Paganella ski area, a partnership that has never stopped. The agreement with Alpe Cimbra is particularly important as it will last for the next four agonistic seasons until 2022. For the Trentino region, it represents a unique opportunity of international visibility and promotion. I would like to recall that during these weeks in Trentino, not only the Norwegian and American teams, but also other important national teams are training for the forthcoming appointments of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. It represents an outstanding award for the quality of our slopes, infrastructures and the ability of our colleagues.”

Nyman speaks for the entire group when he says: “They’ve opened their doors to us like it was home. They treat us like Kings. We eat incredibly well at many of their great restaurants and they are preparing the slopes how we specify, allowing us to prepare for the World Cups as best we can. It’s a great partnership that I’m really excited about...the Trentino region has treated us well in the past and I am excited to reignite this relationship once again!”

The men look forward to their next stop in Alpe Cimbra, Trentino - their new home away from home.

WATCH: Alpe Cimbra, Trentino Press Conference - Men's Alpine Speed Team