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David Wise on NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!"

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
June, 26 2018
David Wise 'Wait Wait'

Two-time Olympic champion David Wise was featured on NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" on June 23rd to talk risk-taking, all things PyeongChang Olympics, to play a game called "Bland is the new black" and more.

Read the full story on NPR.org

Men's Alpine Europa Cup Team in France

By Megan Harrod
June, 26 2018
Sam Morse nails the line in Les Deux Alpes
2017 World Juniors Downhill champion Sam Morse nails the line in Les Deux Alpes last week in Les Deux Alpes, France (Lucas Leufen).

Six athletes from the men's Europa Cup alpine team hit the slopes of France last week to kick off their first official prep period camp of the 2019 season.

Athletes include 2017 World Junior downhill champion Sam Morse (Sugarloaf, Maine), 2018 World Juniors bronze medalist in super-G Luke Winters (Gresham, Ore.), as well as Cooper Cornelius (Glenwood Springs, Colo.), Nick Krause (Northboro, Mass.), Kyle Negomir (Littleton, Colo.) and George Steffey (Lyme, N.H.). 

The focus of the camp was on technical disciplines, and training was evenly split between giant slalom and slalom during the eight-day camp. The purpose of early season camps such as these is to build a solid foundation in the athletes' skiing that they can build on in their New Zealand training block when they have some more challenging terrain and winter snow conditions.

"The slopes in Les Deux Alpes are very moderate, but there is good length as we have been training 50 second GS the last four days," said head Europa Cup coach Pete Anderson midway through the camp. "It has been great having almost the entire group together for the first time - we are only missing River [Radamus] - and starting to figure out how we all work together and who we are as a team. The group of athletes here are all really strong skiers and, more importantly, professionals in how they operate on a daily basis so it has been really fun and motivating so far."

Anderson recently made the move from men's World Cup assistant coach to head coach of the Europa Cup group, along with Europa Cup technical coach Martin Andersen, who recently rejoined the U.S. Ski Team staff, as the focus remains on alpine ski racing development. Anderson and Andersen were joined by newly appointed Europa Cup assistant coach Josh Benge and longstanding U.S. Ski Team coach Justin Johnson.

Based on findings from Project 26, the renewed focus on alpine development is a critical aspect of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s direction forward as they work to expose the nation’s best athletes at the development level to programming that will enable them to make the next big step to C Team, and from C Team to the podium at NorAms, Europa Cups, and eventually the World Cup podium.

"Stepping into this new role has been really exciting for me so far." reflected (Pete) Anderson. "The staff that we have been working to put in place to support these athletes really came together in a great way and I am looking forward to the culture that we will be striving to build within this team. I am still learning a lot about these athletes on an individual level, but the more I get to know the more excited I am about trying to help them reach their goals."

The men's Europa Cup team will wrap up their Les Deux Alpes, France camp up on the 27th of June, and then head back to the United States for more strength and conditioning work. In August, they'll head down to the southern hemisphere to chase snow in New Zealand, spending time at Round Hill, Ohau, and Coronet Peak in New Zealand.
 

Jessie Diggins Featured in ESPN Body Issue

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
June, 26 2018
Jessie Diggins Featured in ESPN Body Issue

Olympic Champion Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) is one of 16 athletes to grace the pages of this year's 10th edition of the ESPN Body Issue. Diggins used the feature as an opportunity to discuss body image and dispel negative perceptions the community has about baring it all. In her most recent blog post, entitled "Body Issues", she reflected on the decision to participate, which she admits was not easy. 

"Admittedly, I mostly figured I’d never get asked or have to consider it since cross country skiing isn’t a 'famous' enough sport, but times, they are a-changin’! But the biggest reason I never thought I’d do the tastefully nude shoot that shows off athlete’s muscles is because when I was younger, I struggled with a healthy body image. When I was 18-19 years old, I had everything in the world going for me, but I struggled with confidence and didn’t love myself. I suffered from an eating disorder, and eventually sought help at a treatment center, checking in for a summer program that saved my life. So when I was approached about the ESPN issue, I thought 'is this REALLY something I want to do? Will it bring back old memories? Will I be ok with everyone seeing my body exactly as it is?'

The answer for Diggins was yes. In doing so, she hopes to inspire younger women "to be OK with who they are and what they look like."

"We need to open up the conversation about body image, self confidence, and disordered eating" she reflected. "It should not be a shameful thing, or a taboo topic. It’s more prevalent than people think, and perhaps making help easier to find and less difficult to ask for could save some lives."

Read the full story on ESPN.com

 

Mark Schneider Joins U.S. Ski & Snowboard as Chief Technology Officer

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
June, 21 2018
U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hires New CTO

U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the Olympic national governing body for ski and snowboard sports in the USA, has announced that Mark Schneider has joined the organization as Chief TechnologyMark Schneider Chief Technology Officer Officer (CTO).

Schneider brings a huge wealth of experience amassed to one of the largest sports bodies in the USA, including six years as Chief Information Officer with Red Bull USA. His most recent post was Chief Technology Officer with Zipscene, the Cincinnati, Ohio based company specializing in understanding and predicting consumer-dining behavior through deep learning and artificial intelligence on the Amazon (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Schneider’s range of experience, in particular with the high profile athletes and events associated with Red Bull, makes him ideally suited for the CTO role with U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “Mark’s resume speaks for itself,” said Tiger Shaw, CEO, and President of U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “He has worked in the technology field for nearly 35 years and was an integral part of the incredible growth Red Bull enjoyed in the US from 2007 through 2013. Most recently he has been working with a start-up which specializes in understanding and predicting consumer behavior, a knowledge that will prove highly valuable to the work we do with athletes and consumers at U.S. Ski & Snowboard.”

“I am delighted to have accepted the CTO role with U.S. Ski & Snowboard,” said Mark Schneider, talking about his move to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. ”The opportunity to move to Park City and work with some of the highest profile athletes in the world, a range of events broadcast globally, and blue-chip commercial partners is a huge and very exciting honor.

“Even in my initial discussions with the team at the Center of Excellence, it is clear that there are opportunities to integrate technology even more deeply with the athletes U.S. Ski & Snowboard helps become best in the world. This work will be focused on helping them increase performance levels even further, and to use technology to improve the fan experience, both in the live arena and in broadcast, and that is just the tip of the iceberg! My family and I are looking forward to relocating to Utah and I cannot wait to start work.”

2018 ESPN ESPYS Nominations Announced

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
June, 20 2018
2x Olympic Champion Mikaela Shiffrin is up for two ESPYS nominations
2x Olympic Champion Mikaela Shiffrin is up for two ESPYS nominations: Best Female Athlete and Best Female Olympian.

The 2018 ESPN ESPYS nominations have been announced, featuring eight U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes. The list is headlined by 2x Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin and Olympic champion Chloe Kim - both up for Best Female Athlete. 

The voting is up to you, so let your voice be heard and VOTE NOW (and remember, you can vote daily). 

The ESPYS, hosted by Danica Patrick, will be held on July 18 at 8pm ET. See the list of U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete nominations below, and the full list of nominees at ESPN.com

Best Female Athlete
Chloe Kim
Mikaela Shiffrin

Best Olympic Moment
Jessie Diggins & Kikkan Randall
Shaun White

Best Male Olympian
Red Gerard
David Wise
Shaun White

Best Female Olympian
Jamie Anderson
Chloe Kim
Mikaela Shiffrin

Best Male Action Sports Athlete
David Wise

Best Female Action Sports Athlete
Jamie Anderson
Chloe Kim

Read the full story on ESPN.com

Successful Season Launches Cochran-Siegle To The Next Level

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
June, 20 2018
Ryan Cochran-Siegle Birds of Prey
Vermonter Ryan Cochran-Siegle enjoyed a breakout 2018 season, including top finishes for Team USA at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.(U.S. Ski & Snowboard / Cody Downard)

The 2017-18 season was a successful one for American Ryan Cochran-Siegle as he competed injury-free and took a positive step forward in his competitive career. After he achieved a top-30 ranking in alpine combined and approached the top 30 in giant slalom as well, we asked the legacy skier some questions about the season behind him and the one that lies ahead. 

How satisfied are you with your season?  
I am very happy with how my skiing came together to close out my season. That being said, I know I am still a world away from where the top skiers are at the moment, so the satisfaction comes with a grain of salt for me. In the words of the late, great Robert Frost, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” 

Read the Full story at FIS-Ski.com

Welcome to #OneTeam Rookie Camp

By Megan Harrod
June, 14 2018
Rookie Camp Trail Work
Jade Thurgood (Snowboard Halfpipe/Slopestyle), Zoe Zimmermann (Alpine), Ainsley Proffit (Alpine) participated in #OneTeam Rookie Camp.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard recently reintroduced “Rookie Camp,” where newly nominated U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes from across sports collide into #OneTeam to learn about the ins and outs of their new team.

In this year’s edition - held Sunday, June 10 through Tuesday, June 12 - 28 athletes and a number of parents from across multiple sports arrived at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Center of Excellence and were greeted by a full schedule, planned by Julie Glusker, head of Athlete Career & Education (ACE) and Kate Anderson, Athletics Manager. On the docket for this two-and-a-half-day program were sessions to teach athletes about their teams, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s programs and services and their responsibility as a national team member.

In-classroom sessions were chock-full of information that had young athletes’ brains full to the brim with knowledge on topics like marketing and sponsorships, communications, social media best practices, SafeSport, team building, sports psychology and more. In addition to the classroom, outdoor activities and workouts with top-notch strength and conditioning coaches like Michael Bingaman were woven into the schedule. Athletes broke free from the office to head outside and play team games like kickball, as well as a community service opportunity with Park City's Mountain Trails Foundation for a trail clean-up.

Athletes ranged from 14 to 25 years old and came from a variety of sports, backgrounds and clubs – from Idaho’s Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation to Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy and beyond. Response by athletes and parents was positive as U.S. Ski & Snowboard hopes to make this an annual orientation for athletes.

Glusker noted that the focus for this year’s Rookie Camp was “One Team.” Though Rookie Camp had been restructured the last few years, with the introduction of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s #OneTeam unified brand, the organization noted the importance of bringing it back.

“Rookie camp provided a great opportunity for new athletes to meet and share their stories with each other, learn about all the different aspects and departments of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, meet and hear from team managers, coaches, Olympians and many people from across the organization,” Glusker said, “and find out about the support services available to them as they enter the team.”

Zoe Zimmermann (Gilford, N.H.; Burke Mountain Academy), granddaughter of former two-time Olympic medalist Penny Pitou – the first American to win an Olympic downhill medal – accomplished her goal of being nominated to the U.S. Ski Team for the upcoming season. As a new member of the alpine development team, she enjoyed her time at Rookie Camp meeting athletes from across sports.

“I thought it was really fun and super cool to meet a lot of athletes from other disciplines,” Zimmermann reflected. “Now I understand how serious and important it is to be part of the national team. I also now understand that what I put in my body can really affect my career and my performance. It was a lot of information, but it was all really informative.”

Lucas Foster (Telluride, Colo; Jim Smith Club) from the snowboard halfpipe rookie team echoed Zimmermann’s enthusiasm: “I had an amazing time at Rookie Camp. I did not realize how much the COE and the team have to offer. I’m so stoked to be a part of the crew and to have all this support!”

The eight alpine athletes who attended Rookie Camp also experienced their first dose of media and lived up to the challenge. While each of the athletes answered questions like, “If you could be on any other national team, which team would it be?” (the Norwegian Team was a frequent answer) and “What’s your spirit animal?” (answer by Abi Jewett (Ripton, Vt.; Green Mountain Valley School) included a catamount, fox or hippopotamus), their new teammates looked on, laughed, provided support and learned from each other.

 

Newly named Development Team member Nicola Rountree-Williams reflects on her Rookie Camp experience.

 

Madison Varmette (Park City, Utah; Elite Aerial Development Program), an aerials C team member thought it was productive as well. “My Rookie Camp experience was informative but also fun,” said Varmette. “Knowing that the staff and my new friends are supporting me makes it exciting. I’m looking forward to using these tools and relationships to make the next four years filled with possibilities!”

Andrew Miller (Park City, Utah; Park City Ski Team), named to the alpine development team, walked away with new friends and looks forward to what it will bring. “I left Rookie Camp with a new group of friends and I’m excited for the future of U.S. Ski and Snowboard! The camp gives me the motivation to take advantage of this opportunity I have.”

With the #OneTeam Rookie Camp, U.S. Ski & Snowboard hopes to bring back a holistic approach to orientating our new athletes for years to come.

Athletes Trade Ski Boots for Gym Shoes to Raise Awareness

By Megan Harrod
June, 7 2018
Gym Shoes
Mikaela Shiffrin put on her gym shoes and joined professional break dancers from New York City and Philadelphia to raise awareness about their careers on the mountain. (Jana Bannan Photography)

U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes from across sports joined professional break dancers from New York City and Philadelphia who compete on the Pro Breaking Tour to learn some new “breaking” moves and raise awareness about their careers on the mountain.

The event, hosted by donor Steve Graham – who is a Burke Mountain Academy alumnus and a longtime supporter of U.S. Ski & Snowboard – was an example of a regional reception organized by U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Foundation team. Olympic champion and alumna Dianne Roffe, two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin, Olympians Liz Stephen, Breezy Johnson, Tommy Biesemeyer and Ryan Cochran-Siegle, World Juniors downhill champion Alice Merryweather, and three-time national champion Nina O’Brien were on site to raise awareness, along with CEO & President Tiger Shaw.

Trisha Worthington, executive vice president and chief development officer for the Foundation, says the magic of these smaller gatherings is that athletes and prospective donors can be introduced in small gatherings that allow for more personal, one-on-one interactions.

“There is nothing more meaningful,” she said, “than hearing directly from our athletes about their needs and the impact of donor support on their ability to compete and succeed. These events provide guests with a unique opportunity to have personal conversations with athletes regarding their sport endeavors, training schedules, competition experiences and other topics. Additionally, each reception has its own theme or tone, set by the host.”

The theme for Graham’s reception? Breakdancing, known as “breaking” by the pros. Word on the street is that Shiffrin, Cochran-Siegle, Biesemeyer, and Stephen even gave it a shot and showed off their best moves…or at least attempted to do so.

One of my favorite parts of the night was watching the breakers perform in Steve’s basement and then getting to meet and chat with them afterward,” reflected Cochran-Siegle. “They all had a lot of cool stories that they shared with us, and it was just really interesting to compare and contrast each of our lifestyles and experiences with one another.”

Steve and Christina Graham did an amazing job accommodating us the entire time, between flying us private, providing great food and entertainment, and putting us up in their cozy country-style guest houses,” Cochran-Siegle reflected. “Having the event in the springtime was also a good time of year personally because it fits right in with my scheduled downtime at home in April and May. For whatever reason, this made it easier to relax and reflect on my past season with other guests rather than other fundraisers that I’ve been to in the fall where a higher anticipation and pressure seems to lie on the upcoming race season.”  

With zero government funding, athletes at U.S. Ski & Snowboard understand the importance of spreading the word about their passions, which have turned into careers they love dearly. Though three-time Olympic medalist, three-time World Championships medalist, five-time slalom World Cup champion and back-to-back overall World Cup champion Shiffrin juggles a busy schedule as one of the few remaining multi-event skiers on the World Cup circuit, and between media and sponsor obligations, she often makes time to attend events hosted by Foundation. Shiffrin, Cochran-Siegle, and fellow teammates want to see their sport survive and thrive, and understand that – as Voltaire (or, more recently Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in Spiderman) – says with great power, comes great responsibility.  

The best way you can get that as an athlete is to go to that and be involved,” noted Shiffrin. “I think it’s important that athletes attend in order for potential donors to get a heart-to-heart, face-to-face connection and understand us as humans, and what we do/why we’re so passionate about it…in order for them to want to support us. I loved this event, hugely because of the added element of breakdancing – it’s one of Steve Graham’s many passions. It ended up being a sort of fun little get-together/gathering/party that was fairly intimate with a bunch of people who he knows from the area but spreading the word about U.S. Ski & Snowboard and the fact that we don’t receive government support. So many people are completely shocked by that, especially when they figure out that most of our competitor nations have support from their governments.”

Not only did athletes enjoy mixing and mingling with fans and potential donors in a relaxed environment, they also enjoyed hitting the gym floor with guys from another niche sport in a completely different world than their own. Shiffrin had gotten some intel prior to the event, and she and coach Jeff Lackie had been incorporating some moves into her conditioning because she wanted to be a part of it.

For Shiffrin, this activity made the event unique and different. “It was super cool,” Shiffrin said with a giggle. “We saw these professional breakers doing their thing, and then they had some of us come in and try the moves. We all got to talk and compare notes between sports. We were able to meet personalities that I might not have met otherwise, and these are people that we’ll be keeping in touch with for years to come – they were funny and down-to-earth. Their sport has a totally different lifestyle than ours, but there’s a lot of similarity and overlap. Ski racing is a male and white male-dominated sport, so it was really good to break out of our little bubble.”

Shiffrin said there may have even been a little bit of heckling out on the gym floor. “A lot of those guys are sponsored by energy drink companies, and we got some trash-talking going – between Red Bull for me and their energy drink sponsor. It was funny because here I am…I’m a total dingus, and I’m talking with people about sport who I would never expect would even hear what I have to say. That was super cool.”

U.S. Cross Country Team Kicks Off Training Season With Bend Camp

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
June, 4 2018
Cross Country Training Camp
Members of the 2018-19 U.S. Cross Country Ski Team kicked off the training season with a camp in Bend, Ore. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

Thirteen of the 16 athletes from the recently nominated U.S. Cross Country Ski Team attended the season kick-off training camp in Bend, Ore. May 19 through June 1.

Those attending were a mix of veterans and rookies excited to start the training season with some fantastic spring skiing. Although Bend had been challenged by an unusually low snow year, the staff at Mt. Bachelor worked their magic to create great classic and skate skiing for the group.

“It has been an incredibly fun and unique Bend Camp,” said Sadie Bjornsen (Anchorage, Alaska). “The team feels really different with a combination of losing some of our teammates to retirement and gaining some new ones. The young boys and girls on our team are so much further ahead than where I was at that age; it is just so fun to watch them dream big!”

Head Coach Chris Grover added, “We’ve had excellent skiing at Mt. Bachelor every morning, with great spring klister conditions. In the afternoons, we’ve been running, mountain biking, lifting, and roller skiing. The staff at the Athletic Club of Bend has been graciously hosting the team for strength training, while the crew at Rebound Physical Therapy has been taking care of all our recovery treatment and injury prevention needs.”

Four rookies attended their first Bend Camp as nominated members of the U.S. Ski Team: Hailey Swirbul (Anchorage, Alaska), Gus Schumacher (Anchorage, Alaska), Ian Torchia (Marquette, Mich.) and Ben Ogden (Landgrove, Vt.).  

“Training with the national team has been a really exciting step for me,” said Swirbul, who won two Junior World Championships medals last season. “I feel welcomed and included on this team and it truly is a great dynamic to be part of. I’m lucky to spend time living and training with this remarkable group of athletes and people.”

When asked about the vibe of the camp, rookie Gus Schumacher stated, “It’s a super fun and focused atmosphere and I'm very excited to be a part of it. I've had some interaction with these guys at other camps and events in the past, but really getting to know them here has shown how this is truly a team.”

“Bend was an awesome camp!” Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) said. “I was so thankful and impressed with the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center for keeping the trails open and groomed for us under some quickly melting conditions. The start of the year is looking good and I’m especially excited about our awesome group of junior athletes that are coming up fast.”

Team members now head back to their home programs to continue training before the July U.S. Ski Team training block in France for the men and Lake Placid for the women.

New Hires Announced for Alpine Development

By Megan Harrod
May, 31 2018
New Hires for Alpine Development Program

PARK CITY, Utah (May 31, 2018) - U.S. Ski & Snowboard has announced three new hires today that will impact the organization’s renewed focus on alpine ski racing development. Marjan Cernigoj has been named head women’s development coach, while Martin Andersen will assume the role of Europa Cup technical coach and Sam Damon the role of Eastern region director.  

These three new hires are a critical aspect of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s direction forward as they work to expose the nation’s best athletes at the development level to programming that will enable them to make the next big step to C Team, the podium at NorAms, and – down the road – the World Cup podium.

Cernigoj will be head men’s development coach Sasha Rearick’s counterpart on the women’s side. He is returning to the organization after 15 years of work with Canada, Slovenia, and Russia at the World Cup level. Cernigoj previously served as women’s World Cup technical head coach and women’s head coach from 1998 to 2003 and has experience working in both the club and regional levels in the United States.

Cernigoj’s experience, in addition to Rearick’s, is something alpine development director Chip Knight is very optimistic about. “With a wealth of World Cup and Olympic experience, in addition to having worked domestically at both the regional and club level,” said Knight, “Marjan knows what it takes for an athlete to go to the top of our sport. As we work to impact both individual athlete development and broader coaches’ education, our young women will benefit tremendously from Marjan’s knowledge and our club coaches will reap the rewards of being able to work closely with someone of his experience and stature.”

Hailing from Norway, Andersen started his coaching career with the Aamodt - as in Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt - family. He also returns to the organization to take the lead with the Europa Cup tech team, after previously serving as both men’s World Cup tech head coach and men’s World Cup assistant speed coach for U.S. Ski & Snowboard. He has worked with U.S. Ski Team alumni Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves as well as Norway’s Aamodt, Lasse Kjus, and Aksel Lund Svindal, and Finland’s Kalle Pallandar.

With more than 25 years of coaching experience in Norway, the United States and Finland from the club level to the top of the World Cup podium, Andersen brings vast knowledge to the development program, which will be vital in our quest for athletes to make the leap from the NorAm circuit to the World Cup. “As a seasoned coach with years of experience at the international level in both Norway and the United States,” noted Knight, “I am excited to welcome Martin back to our team and I look forward to having him guide our young athletes from NorAms to the World Cup stage.”

Finally, U.S. Ski & Snowboard welcomes Damon, where he most recently served as U16 women’s head coach at Burke Mountain Academy. Knight is looking forward to seeing Damon translate his skills both as an athlete – he skied for Dartmouth College – and a coach, to this new role with the Team. “His broad range of athletic experiences in the Eastern Region – between skiing and coaching in various programs at multiple levels – will serve him well as he seeks to move the Region forward and includes more athletes and clubs in the development pipeline,” Knight commented.  

Cernigoj, Andersen, and Damon will officially start on June 1st. Rearick hit the slopes with the men’s development crew for their initial camp in April to kick off the season and the new initiative, and Cernigoj will hit the ground running with the women’s development group’s first on-snow camp at Timberline Lodge Ski & Snowboard area in Mt. Hood, Oregon shortly thereafter.