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Sustainability

U.S. Ski & Snowboard, a national and global leader in snow sports, is committed to addressing climate change and stewarding sustainability of winter sports. Millions globally are inspired by winter sports and enjoy healthy, active lifestyles in winter environments. Climate change threatens our winter environments with receding glaciers, rising sea levels, volatile weather cycles and less snowfall.

Former FIS President Kasper Passes Away

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
July, 12 2021
Gian Franco Kasper

U.S. Ski & Snowboard mourns the passing of FIS President Gian Franco Kasper, who will be long remembered for the extraordinary role he played in growing a small sport into one of the most impactful in the Olympics over his 46 years of service at FIS (International Ski Federation). His leadership has established a strong base for the next generation of our sport under new FIS President Johan Eliasch.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Gian Franco Kasper’s family. 

For more information please see FIS-Ski.com

Dexter Paine
FIS Council Member

Tiger Shaw
President and CEO

 

One Year of Progress; DEI Action Plan Unveiling Set for July 15

By Andrew Gauthier
July, 8 2021
OneTeam

U.S. Ski & Snowboard is excited to announce the unveiling of the organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan on July 15, 2021, as well as share a brief update as to important actions taken by the organization over the past year.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard has been working in concert with Ascent Inclusion Consulting in order to lay out clear steps for the organization to work toward a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment. The collaboration included updating the company’s DEI Statement and creating a robust DEI Action Plan to advance clear milestones and accountability. 

The DEI Statement serves as a catalyst to ongoing self-assessment and a commitment to meaningful actions to drive real, actionable change. The statement also acts as a guiding document throughout the development of the larger DEI Action Plan. The objective of the action plan is to achieve a higher-performing organization with an inclusive culture, equitable systems, and a team benefitting from a more diverse range of backgrounds, experiences, and views. 

As a result of an earlier DEI Audit performed by the Inclusion Playbook, U.S. Ski & Snowboard established a three-year action plan matching its updated DEI pillars and corresponding owning subcommittees within its DEI Committee, including pillars for leadership, governance, training, education, expanded access, representation, recognition, public-facing content, and partnerships. Each subcommittee’s development of additional specific metrics and reporting expectations will provide further guidance on an ongoing basis.

As U.S. Ski & Snowboard has worked toward its DEI objectives, it has become clear that executing the DEI Action Plan is critical to the organization’s vision and mission. Moving toward a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment is not just the right thing to do, but it will have a positive ripple effect throughout the organization and beyond. Find a link to U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s revised DEI statement below, alongside more detail related to the progress made toward creating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization. 


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Update (June 2020-June 2021)

 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement

 

Arielle Gold Announces Retirement After Fabled Career

By Gabby Tachis
July, 6 2021
Arielle
Arielle Gold following her bronze medal performance in superpipe at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

2018 Olympic bronze medalist and five-time X Games medalist Arielle Gold has announced her retirement from competitive halfpipe snowboarding. The retirement comes after nine years on the U.S. Snowboard Pro Halfpipe Team and two years on the Rookie Team.

Reflecting on her career, Gold noted one memory she will never forget. “A major career highlight for me was my first X Games medal, when I earned bronze in 2013,” Gold reflected. “I went into it as an alternate and was able to get into the event after one of my long-time inspirations, Gretchen Bleiler, unfortunately, had to drop out due to an injury. I went on to land one of the best runs of my life and earned my first X Games podium.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Arielle Gold (@arielletgold)


Defying odds became a trend for Gold. She went into the 2018 Olympics with a recurring shoulder injury and stunned the snowboarding community by winning a medal. “I went into my second Olympic Games perceived as an underdog,” said Gold. “Few people anticipated that I would even make the Olympic Team, but I think their doubts only fed into my motivation and allowed me to focus on having fun riding without any external pressure. Having dislocated my shoulder in the days leading up to the event, the support of the U.S. Snowboard Team’s incredible staff was monumental in helping me to persevere through the injury and earn an Olympic bronze medal.” Along with her Olympic and X Games medals, Gold also earned the title of FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Champion in 2013.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Arielle Gold (@arielletgold)

 

“Arielle will be greatly missed in the snowboard community,” said former U.S. Snowboard Pro Halfpipe Team Head Coach Rick Bower. “She is an incredibly talented rider with a fiercely determined work ethic. These qualities helped her earn a bronze medal at the 2018 Olympics. I know the lessons she learned from competitive snowboarding will enable her to be successful in whatever she chooses to do in life.”

Gold’s game-time performances were just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what she brought to the sport. She was a supportive teammate and truly cared about the future of the sport, helping many young athletes as they progressed through the ranks.
 


“I’m so grateful that a portion of my career overlapped with Arielle’s,” said former teammate, snowboarding icon and three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark. “She was a great competitor, teammate and friend. She had the ability to compete at the highest level, while supporting those around her. She was always pushing herself to be her best, and by doing that, she pushed her teammates and the sport of snowboarding to progress. I’m proud of who she is and of her contribution to the sport. I am excited to see what she takes on next.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Arielle Gold (@arielletgold)

 

While the decision to retire has been among Gold’s most difficult yet, she is excited to embark on her next adventure in pursuit of a degree in veterinary medicine. “I have known that I’ve wanted to become a veterinarian long before I started snowboarding, but I wanted to completely dedicate myself to my snowboarding career first,” she said. “I’m more comfortable with the decision now because I’m excited to move on to another career that I have always been passionate about.” She has been working full-time at a local veterinary emergency room and is in the process of applying to veterinary school for the fall of 2022. Throughout her snowboarding travels, Gold has seen the discrepancies that exist in access to veterinary care in underprivileged communities. Her goal is to use her education to provide care to animals who might not otherwise receive it due to financial constraints.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Arielle Gold (@arielletgold)

 

Improving the community around her has always been a priority for Gold, especially through her involvement with nonprofits like Protect Our Winters and Animal Rescue of the Rockies. Gold adopted a dog of her own last year and aspires to implement everything she has learned through her own animal advocacy efforts into her future veterinary pursuits. Gold also plans to continue her efforts with Protect Our Winters, stating, “I will never stop working towards a more  sustainable lifestyle, and I have every intention of continuing to contribute in any way that I can.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Arielle Gold (@arielletgold)

 

Gold plans to stay connected to the sport amidst her future pursuits. “I’m definitely hoping to do whatever I can to stay involved,” she said. “I’ve grown up with most of the people in the industry, so they’ve basically become family at this point. My brother, Taylor, is still competing for the U.S. Snowboard Team on the professional circuit, so I’m anticipating that I’ll go to as many events as I can.”

“Being able to ride and compete alongside Arielle for so many years was such an amazing and rare opportunity,” said Gold’s brother and U.S. Snowboard Pro Halfpipe Team veteran Taylor Gold. “Having family to travel with provides a level of support that few are fortunate enough to experience. We endured lows, enjoyed the highs and explored so many new places along the way together. I’ll miss watching her progress and definitely riding and traveling with her.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Arielle Gold (@arielletgold)

 

Gold recognized that the bond between her and her brother as teammates and siblings is very special. Looking back on her career, she noted that having a brother in the sport helped tremendously, and she would like to continue to do the same for him as he aims for the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing. “Taylor and I have always been able to provide a degree of emotional support that only comes from familial ties. I know how emotionally demanding the competitive circuit can be, and I want to support him in any capacity that I can.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Arielle Gold (@arielletgold)

 

In addition to her brother, Gold would also like to express her gratitude to her parents, Ken and Patty Gold. Without their unconditional support throughout the peaks and valleys of her career, Gold does not feel that her career would have been possible. She would also like to thank her coach, Rick Bower, former teammate, Kelly Clark, and childhood coaches, Ashley Berger, Jo Rolls, Spencer Tamblyn and Heath Van Aken. She added, “Thank you to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard for all of the support. By no means am I leaving snowboarding forever and I am incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given throughout my career. My snowboarding career played a monumental part in growing into the person that I am today, and I am so unbelievably grateful for all of the pow turns, places and people I encountered along the way. Thank you snowboarding.”


 

Rivers Named Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Champion Award Recipient

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
July, 2 2021
Henry Rivers
Henri Rivers is the inaugural recipient of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Award.

Henri Rivers, the president of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, has been named by U.S. Ski & Snowboard as the inaugural recipient of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Award. The award is focused on recognizing a person, group, organization, or program that has contributed significantly and sustainably to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in skiing and snowboarding.

The new award recognition was implemented by U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the national governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding, as part of its initiatives to support DEI in the sport. Rivers has engaged productively to help the organization plot its course and to raise awareness across its membership and the entire sport community.

“When Henri got involved with U.S. Ski & Snowboard, he did not hesitate to step up into a leadership role,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “He had many connections which he immediately leveraged to join his efforts surrounding DEI with us, including many hours working on our DEI Committee as well as leading two well-attended virtual roundtables.”

Rivers has been an avid skier and outdoor enthusiast for more than 45 years. He is a professional ski instructor, certified master teacher, and children’s specialist as well as a U.S. Ski & Snowboard alpine coach, jury advisor, referee, and official, coaching in the alpine race program at Windham Mountain in the Catskill region of New York.

He was selected for the award by U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s DEI Committee. Moving forward, annual recipients will be selected by the DEI Committee based on a matrixed review of various factors reflecting the nominees’ impact on advancing DEI. The criteria include leadership of DEI in ski and snowboard, advancing education, collaborative coalition-building, development of equitable systems, and implementation of effective programs.

The DEI Committee, chaired by U.S. Ski & Snowboard Club Development Manager Ellen Adams, was founded in 2017 to increase racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic diversity at all levels of skiing and snowboarding.

“Henri has shown great patience, an indomitable spirit, and quiet conviction in his engagement with those of us who have a great deal to learn,” said committee member Sheryl Barnes.

“He is really the main inspiration for the work done by our DEI Committee. He is the reason we continue to educate ourselves, evolve our strategies as an NGB, and push for a more diverse ski and snowboard community in the United States.”
 - U.S. Ski & Snowboard DEI committee member Elise Saarela

“I consider myself an ally for inclusion and equity,” said committee member Jamie Nagle. “Yet, as I listened to Henri speak recently about his experience as a black man, an athlete, and a coach, I couldn’t help but ask myself if I was really doing all I could to advance diversity, equality, and inclusion. He has taken the trials and experience of his past as a call to action to effect positive change.”

“Watching our supporters and allies awaken over the past 15 months and supporting the cause of racial equality, inclusion and diversity have been deeply felt,” said Rivers. “I believe what we are witnessing is a new era of challenge - white America is awakening and understanding our foundation was not put in place to the benefit and equality of all citizens. Our existing system needs to be dismantled and rebuilt for the betterment of society.”

Rivers cited U.S. Ski & Snowboard for adopting principles to nurture diverse communities rooted in understanding and respect, educating constituents emphasizing diverse communities, and supporting innovation to enhance retention of underrepresented groups.

“I look forward to U.S. Ski & Snowboard amply funding its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative over the next four years, leading the way to an equitable future for all sports organizations and our global community.”

An engineer and project manager by trade, Rivers is the founder of Drumriver, a New York-based renewable energy company. He first became involved with NBS in 1996. He became an NBS national team coach in 2003. Five years later, he was appointed administrator of its Olympic Scholarship Fund, growing the national team to 15 athletes. He became competition director in 2016 and was elected president in 2020.


 

Jump-Focused Moguls Timberline Camp Wraps

By Lara Carlton
July, 1 2021
Tess Johnson
Tess Johnson smiles despite the hike back up to the top of the jump site at Official Training Site Timberline Lodge & Ski Area

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Official Training Site Timberline Lodge & Ski Area played a perfect host to the U.S. Freestyle Mogul Ski Team’s first on-snow jump-focused prep camp of the 2021-22 season. 

“Our main objectives for this camp were to focus on jumping, to take the work we put in at the [Utah Olympic Park] water ramps and bring it to snow,” explained Head Moguls Coach Matt Gnoza. “We want to make sure what the athletes are doing on the ramps and on the tramps are translating to snow.”

Gnoza noted that jumping went well overall, every athlete is progressing and putting in the reps for their higher degree of difficulty tricks. “As we get prepared for this Olympic qualification season, high execution numbers and ability is important. The difference between a seven point and an eight point jump is huge.” Mogul runs often come down to the smallest of details. Are the athletes balanced? Is there good symmetry? How is the landing? “These are all questions we’re trying to answer in anticipation of increasing high executions and minimizing deductions.”

Athletes took full advantage of bringing tricks back to snow. Kai Owens worked on her cork 7 and cork grab, and was even starting to blend in some cork 10 - not seen very often on the women’s side. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kai (@_kaiowens)

 

“The first on-snow camp was awesome!” she said. “I always really enjoy our Timberline venue. I’m very thankful to our coaches for all the work they put into our jump site. Since it was our first camp back on snow it was nice to get a feel for on-snow jumping again. I’m looking forward to ramping again so I can fine tune some tricks and hopefully bring some more tricks to snow for the next on-snow camp!”

Also pushing the envelope was Olivia Giaccio. Giaccio worked a back full and a cork 7, and also dabbled with her cork 10. 

“I was pretty stoked with how awesome the jump venue was, thanks to my coaches and Timberline Lodge,” said Giaccio. “The sweet venue made it easy for me to work on some of my bigger tricks and to improve the consistency of my landing quality.”

Nick Page used the camp to run through his full jump repertoire noting his “main focus was continuing to work on my competition tricks and bring them to a very high level of execution with lots of confidence. I worked on a lot of cork 1080s, cork 1440s, and cork 7-grabs — which are all starting to feel very consistent, which is nice! I look forward to getting back onto the water ramps soon to perfect them even more.” 

An abundance of snow and the “Olympic quality jump site” Timberline provided meant sharing the training venue with other nations as training opportunities are still limited around the world due to impacts from COVID-19. Canada took advantage and had some of their top athletes training up on the Palmer Glacier. Ikuma Horishima of Japan, one of the top mogul skiers in the world, reached out to the U.S. Team and trained with the group at the UOP and Timberline in what the team described as a “sportsmanship exchange program.”

“He has been self-coached while in the U.S., so it’s not like we’re checking training plans, but his close proximity to the team has been really nice,” said Gnoza. “For our athletes to get to know him better and him us better, it’s great to have these cultural exchanges. He’s been a lot of fun for all of us to watch and contributed to a very positive training environment.”

“Having Ikuma train with us this last month was great!” said Page. “I have been close friends with him since I was 12 years old. Ikuma and I are both in the small handful of men (only other is Mikael Kingsbury) that can do a cork 1440, so being able to jump and train with him was extremely productive. I got to stack myself up against another very high-level jumper; and with that came great challenges. We each got to push each other and compete during training — which is what our sport is all about.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ikuma_horishima (@ikuma1211)

 

Casey Andringa executed his first on-snow flips in over two years, having been sidelined by injuries, surgeries and rehab since 2019. “It’s exciting to see Casey back out there on snow with a high level of energy as he progresses towards his hopeful return to competition,” said Gnoza. 

 

 

The first Timberline camp of the 2021 summer marked Bryon Wilson’s first on-snow prep camp as World Cup Coach for the moguls team since joining the staff in May. “Bryon’s been a great addition to the staff,” said Gnoza. “He worked hard to get to know everyone’s skiing and jumping during camp and has integrated himself to the staff and with the athletes. It’s been really awesome to have him.”

Moguls break for a recovery period before beginning their next summer training cycle July 6. 

“During this prep season, I’m aiming to get as consistent as possible with every aspect of my run, so focusing in on my jumps separately at this point in the prep was key,” explained Giaccio. “My mindset is pretty centered around confidence and clear, simple intent with each trick I perform; I’m looking forward to continuing that focus moving into the next block of water ramps and when we go back to Hood in July!”

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

Shiffrin and Resiliency Fund Featured in Associated Press

By Megan Harrod
June, 24 2021
Mikaela Shiffrin Family
Two-time Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin—pictured here with her mother Eileen and father Jeff in Lienz, Austria in 2019—recently caught up with the Associated Press to talk about the relaunch of the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund, the upcoming Olympics, and beyond.

Two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin caught up with the Associated Press' Pat Graham ahead of Father's Day to discuss the relaunch of the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund, the challenges of the 2020-21 season, and the upcoming Olympic Winter Games. 

Graham wrote, 

Mikaela Shiffrin’s tentative plans on Father’s Day: Dinner with family. Perhaps a board game or a movie. Definitely some Jimmy Buffet or Paul Simon music.

Because that’s the sort of celebration Jeff Shiffrin would’ve wanted.

Rarely a day goes by when some image, moment or song doesn’t remind the American skiing great of her dad, who died on Feb. 2, 2020, after an accident at his home in Edwards, Colorado.

The two-time Olympic champion can still hear his calming words of advice (a simple “focus” was a biggie). Or see him drumming on the steering wheel to whatever tune was on the radio. Or envision those family dinners followed by a lively board game.

“It’s not like this day, Father’s Day, is really anymore emotional,” Shiffrin said. “Because I can’t miss him more than I already do on a daily basis.”

Jeff Shiffrin's legacy lives on through the recently relaunched Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund. In the original campaign, launched in 2020, U.S. Ski & Snowboard raised more than $3 million to help offset training and competition expenses through the pandemic. This season, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team and the Shiffrin family are hoping to raise $250,000 for a direct-to-athlete fund.

Through the money raised on behalf of Jeff Shiffrin—and support from the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund—U.S. Ski & Snowboard was able to make a COVID-19 hardship payment of $1,300 each to its ’20-21 national team members. Take moguls skier Tess Johnson for instance: She put the money toward her summer lodging expenses in Park City, Utah, while she trains.

Shiffrin reflected, 

“My dad loved all sports,” Shiffrin said. “He just loved to see the work that athletes put into it, and the success they have from that work. He found it inspiring.”

After winning four medals in four events at the Cortina 2021 World Championships, the burning question everyone has of Shiffrin is just how many events she will compete in at the upcoming Olympics in Beijing. 

After all, it’s a big upcoming season with the Winter Olympics in Beijing around the corner. She’s thinking big, too — possibly competing in four or five events. The one up for discussion may be the downhill.

“I just want to see how things are going as we get closer, because the last thing I want to do is compete just for the sake of competing when I know that I have teammates who are dying for that spot,” said Shiffrin, who captured slalom gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the giant slalom title during the 2018 Pyeongchang Games along with silver in the Alpine combined. “I’m not going to take that unless I really, really have a positive feeling about what I can do.”

Read the full article on APNews.com
Learn more/donate to the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund.

 

U.S. Ski Team Alumna Ludlow Launches Second Children’s Book, ‘Goodnight Chairlift’

By Megan Harrod
June, 22 2021
Goodnight Chairlift

On the tail of her wildly successful children’s book A-B-Skis, Olympic skier Libby Ludlow is launching a Kickstarter for her follow-up book, Goodnight Chairlift. The perfect bedtime story for young skiers, Goodnight Chairlift is a playful journey across a ski area as the sun sets on an epic day. Readers wish ‘goodnight’ to the chairlift, the terrain park, and more. After all, everything at the ski area must go to sleep at night—except, of course, the snowcats. Internationally known illustrator and Park City ski instructor Nathan Jarvis, who also illustrated A-B-Skis, brings various ski area icons to life through his beautiful illustrations, silly scenes, and hidden items to search and find.

Goodnight Chairlift

Goodnight Chairlift is leveled-up from A-B-Skis, Ludlow explains, “It will appeal to more advanced readers and mountain-goers because it features quirky insider terminology, but the book is still inclusive of all levels through its fun glossary in the back.” She also points out that she didn’t write Goodnight Chairlift just for skiers, “my snowboarder friends will enjoy the book just as much as skiers.”

Considering A-B-Skis won four book awards in 2020 and has sold over 5,000 copies, Libby’s standards for this follow-up project are anything but low, “A-B-Skis was so well- received, it’s not an easy act to follow.” But despite the pressure, Ludlow couldn’t be happier to bring a second book to market. She’s been through the entire process before—from the crowdfunding campaign to printing the book overseas. “Self-publishing isn’t easy, but I know what it takes to be successful. I can’t wait for Goodnight Chairlift to make it into kids’ bedtime story rotation. I know they’ll love it just as much, if not more, than A-B-Skis.”

The Kickstarter will run for thirty days, during which people can pre-order discounted and signed copies of the book. Orders are scheduled to be delivered to backers just in time for the ski season in early December 2021. Access to the Kickstarter campaign can be found at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/abskis/goodnight-chairlift.

 

Learn more about Goodnight Chairlift on Kickstarter

––

Libby Ludlow is a former 10-year member of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, a 2006 Olympian, mother of two little skiers, and lifelong writer. Nathan Jarvis is a PSIA certified children’s specialist ski instructor whose illustrations have appeared in Highlights Magazine and scores of children’s books. Together, Libby and Nathan published A-B-Skis: An alphabet book about the magical world of skiing in 2019. The book won four book awards in 2020, including Best Book in the American Book Fest. A-B-Skis is available online on Amazon and sold at shops and ski resorts across the country. Goodnight Chairlift: A bedtime story for little rippers by the creators of A-B- Skis, is Nathan and Libby’s second collaboration. Goodnight Chairlift was written for readers age 4-10 years old.

Flinn Named Alpine Head Men's Development Coach

By Megan Harrod
June, 22 2021
Graham Flinn Head Men's Development Coach
Graham Flinn, pictured here on the job at Official Training Site Timberline Lodge, has been named the new head men's alpine development coach.

In addition to the recent staffing changes, the U.S. Alpine Ski Team has announced that Graham Flinn has been named the new head men's development coach, and has already kicked off his work on the mountain at Official Training Site Timberline Lodge and Ski Area. 

Flinn rejoins U.S. Ski & Snowboard with a strong background from both working at the club and the U.S. Ski Team levels over the last ten years. "During his prior work with the USST’s Development Team, Graham was instrumental in our men’s program winning four medals at the World Junior Championships, as well as helping to advance many individual athletes to the upper levels of the National Team," said Alpine Development Director Chip Knight. 

Flinn will oversee all of men's development, a role formerly occupied by 19-year U.S. Ski & Snowboard veteran Sasha Rearick. Most recently, Flinn has been leading the FIS program at Rowmark Ski Academy, where he recently earned Intermountain Division's Coach of the Year honors. While at Rowmark, Flinn also coached newly-named U.S. Ski team development team athlete Mary Bocock, whose dream to make the national team has come true. 

Flinn lives close to the Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah, and his official start date was June 14.

 

Gold, Silver Awards Honor Those Who Have Given Back To Sport

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
June, 21 2021
Hailey and Sadie
Peers of retiring national team member Sadie Maubet Bjornsen (right) presented her successful nomination for the Buddy Werner Award, honoring the true spirit of sportsmanship she exhibited throughout her career. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

U.S. Ski & Snowboard continued its annual awards presentations recognizing competition officials, volunteers, and event organizers for their extraordinary contribution to the success of the organization. The gold and silver-level awards, recognizing volunteers and organizations around the country for their service to athletes in a variety of categories, follow the acknowledgment of athletes, coaches, and clubs of the year.

PAUL BACON AWARD
(event organization)

Aspen Organizing Committee

The Aspen Organizing Committee, notably Aspen Skiing Company and Aspen Ski & Snowboard Club, was honored with U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Paul Bacon Award for event organization. The Aspen organizers were lauded for their dedication in a pandemic season for stepping in to host the FIS Freeski & Snowboard World Championships, Land Rover U. S. Grand Prix and U.S. Alpine Championships at short notice. 

The Paul Bacon Award, which was first awarded in 1969, is given annually to recognize contributions in event organization, which is a vital component of an athletic organization. It is named in honor of Paul Bacon, a New England native working in Vail, Colo., who in 1963 crafted one of the sport’s first operational manuals for event organization. Shortly thereafter, Bacon was tragically killed in a summer construction accident.

While there were no major events scheduled in Aspen to start the year, that all changed with the pandemic. Following the cancelation of the 2021 FIS Snowboard & Freeski World Championships in China, Aspen stepped in to run the event at its X-Games venue with halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air. In addition, Aspen provided a platform for the U. S. Grand Prix event following the World Championships.

In addition, with the cancelation of the U.S. Alpine Championships in New England due to pandemic protocols, Aspen once again stepped in to hold the event at Aspen Highlands.

The dedication of longstanding event partners in Aspen provided a platform to ensure that these top international and domestic championship events were able to be held this past season, with a strong partnership between the resort and the local club. The events were produced at the highest level and managed safely for participants and host organizers.


JOHN J. CLAIR AWARD
(service to national teams)

Jeff Byrne, Lake Placid, N.Y.

Jeff Byrne, who recently retired as vice president of events for the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) in Lake Placid, N.Y., was honored with U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s John Clair Award for a lifetime of service that benefited national teams. The award is named in honor of John J. Clair of the Long Island Ski Club, who was an active supporter of the U.S. Ski Team in the 1950s and ‘60s, being inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1970.

In his long tenure with ORDA, Byrne helped elevate the level of skiing in America through his pursuit of national and international events in Lake Placid. He remained active within sport at the national and international levels during his entire career.


BUD & MARY LITTLE AWARD
(service to USOPC or FIS)

Melinda Roalstad, Cedaredge, Colo.

Former U.S. Ski & Snowboard medical director Melinda Roalstad was recognized for her service to athlete safety internationally with the Bud & Mary Little Award for service to the International Ski Federation. The award memorializes longtime FIS vice president Bud Little.

Today, athlete safety and medical support is an integral part of our organization and major events around the world. But it wasn’t always that way. As secretary of the FIS Medical Committee in the ‘00s, her influence and direct work led to numerous upgrades to athlete safety that are still in place today.

Roalstad was the principal writer for the first FIS concussion protocol, created a pivotal update to the FIS Medical Guide, successfully lobbied the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to use U.S. Ski & Snowboard doctors at the Olympics, pioneered FIS Emergency Action Plans that are now required of all organizers and pushed to put a FIS medical director on the organizing committee of each World Championship.

Roalstad was the first full-time medical director of the U.S. Ski Association, serving until 2007. Since her retirement, she has worked in private concussion management.


J. LELAND SOSMAN AWARD
(service to physician’s pool)
Dr. David Kuppersmith, Vail, Colo.

Dr. David Kuppersmith, an internist with The Steadman Clinic, was recognized with the J. Leland Sosman Award for his service to the volunteer physician’s pool. This past year Dr. Kuppersmith took an enhanced role in managing the health and wellness of athletes during the pandemic.

The J. Leland Sosman Award is presented annually in recognition of service to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard volunteer physician’s pool. It is named in honor of Dr. Sosman, affectionately known as ‘Sos,’ who was a volunteer leader and competition official known for his energy, persistence, and passion for U.S. Ski & Snowboard sports. This award recognizes an individual from the medical community who best exemplifies these traits.

Dr. Kuppersmith played a central role in U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s COVID-19 medical panel that met weekly throughout the season. It reviewed the ever-evolving best practices to keep athletes, staff, and officials safe and healthy, as well as providing personal telehealth calls with athletes from every corner of the world. In his hometown of Vail, he engaged to provide personal attention to regional athletes to ensure they had access to testing and vaccinations. His work was lauded by U.S. Ski & Snowboard as a key element in the team’s ability to continue competition and training safely in the past year.


TEAM ATHLETES GIVING BACK
(national team athletes supporting causes)
Nicola Rountree-Williams, Tryon, N.C.

U.S. Alpine Ski Team member Nicola Rountree-Williams was awarded the Team Athletes Giving Back award, which she will share with the nonprofit cause she supports, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. The Team Athletes Giving Back award is presented annually to a national team athlete to recognize their advocacy for outside causes. U.S. Ski & Snowboard will present a $5,000 donation to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network in her name.

The cause is important personally to Rountree-Williams, who was diagnosed with autism. Despite that, she has parlayed her passion for ski racing into a burgeoning career as a young ski racer. Growing up in North Carolina, she fell in love with racing through NASTAR during a family trip to Aspen. She kept at it and eventually found her way to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and the Loveland Ski Club. In her young career, she has already competed in two Junior World Championships and the 2020 Youth Olympic Games. She is presently second in the world in her age class.

“It means a lot to me to have our voices out there on autism,” she said. “And I would love to donate this money to ASAN."


BUDDY WERNER AWARD
(sportsmanship)

Sadie Maubet Bjornsen, Winthrop, Wash.

Peers of retiring national team member Sadie Maubet Bjornsen presented her successful nomination for the Buddy Werner Award, honoring the true spirit of sportsmanship she exhibited throughout her career. The award is named in honor of the great Buddy Werner, a great downhill ski racer from the 1950s and ‘60s who was known for his great caring attitude towards his teammates.

Maubet Bjornsen was well known for her interaction with teammates, always putting them above herself. In particular, she served as a respected mentor for young athletes just making their way onto the national team, acclaimed by her teammates for giving more than she receives.

She recently retired after a career that took her to six World Championships and two Olympics. She was a mainstay of what was arguably the best U.S. women’s team in history, where she played a vital role as both an athlete herself and as a key teammate. In addition to a team sprint bronze medal from the 2017 World Championships, she earned 17 World Cup or stage World Cup podiums - including five with her colleagues in team events.


WEST FAMILY CUP
(event officials)

Jim Tervo, Houghton, Mich.

One of the nation’s longest-serving volunteer competition officials, Jim Tervo was honored for his lifetime of service to the cross country skiing community with the West Family Cup. Named in memory of noted volunteer Fraser West and his wife Teddy, the West Family Cup is presented to recognize a long-serving official.

Tervo has been the soul of the Michigan Tech University organizing committee in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for decades. He was recognized for his being a loyal, reliable, and selflessly compassionate official and nordic community member. He is known for his sound decision-making on behalf of athletes, his vast background of knowledge, and his pep talks on the starting line about the importance of sportsmanship and fair play.

In his career, he has served in myriad roles including race official, chief of competition, event organizer and technical delegate. He has led the organizing committee for the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships five times in the last 15 years.


WESTHAVEN AWARD
(service as technical delegate)

Karen Ghent, Vail, Colo.

Former U.S. Ski Team athlete Karen Ghent has taken her knowledge and crafted it into a long career both as a coach and a competition official. Her peers acknowledged her with the gold-level Westhaven Award for longtime service as a technical delegate.

The Westhaven Award is presented annually in memory of longtime TD Fraser West. It dates back to 1991.

Her career in sport spans over four decades. After retirement, she continued in the sport as a coach and program administrator, becoming one of the few women to hold the title of alpine director for a major club - serving at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. While in that role she personally earned both Alpine Domestic Coach of the Year honors, as well as the overall Development Coach of the Year. She also led her Alpine Club of the Year honors in 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

After retiring from those professional roles, she became a FIS technical delegate, filling myriad assignments at all levels of competition. This past year, Ghent took on a vital leadership role as the head of the Health of Sport Task Force, looking at ways to help reform alpine ski racing to attract new participants.


RUSSELL WILDER AWARD
(service to youth)

Gordon Lange, Park City, Utah

Gordon Lange, retiring cross country coach of Park City Ski & Snowboard, was recognized with the Russell Wilder Award for his service to youth. The award is the second oldest from U.S. Ski & Snowboard, dating back to 1955. 

Lange has been a legendary and inspirational leader through a career that spanned 43 years of coaching at the local, regional, national, international, and collegiate levels. In the early part of his career, he coached the Wyoming Cowboys to an NCAA skiing title. He went on to coach the U.S. Ski Team at three Olympics before settling in for a long career at the club level.

His work touched on every level of the sport, gaining a high level of respect from his athletes and fellow coaches. His contribution beyond his club across the division has helped lead the Intermountain Division to become one of the strongest in the country. In recent years, athletes from his program have had increasing impact in the sport internationally, including Rosie Brennan, who led the FIS World Cup this past season, and NCAA ski champion Sydney Palmer-Leger.