USSA Congress solidifies coming changes to junior Alpine racing
“Our vision doesn’t change - best in the world,” said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt in his keynote address in the middle of the 2012 USSA Congress last week in Park City, Utah. While the organization’s vision won’t change, the sports it governs will undergo some scheduling, equipment and divisional revolutions in the coming season.
The four-day gathering of USSA staff, club leadership and sport officials was jam packed with meetings, votes and presentations, all aimed to improve snow sport in the US following one of American snow sport’s best seasons ever
Chief issues raised on the alpine side of the organization ranged from how to best adopt several changes mandated by the FIS including a transition the U (U18, U16) system from the current J (J1, J5) age groupings, and a proposed early move to the approaching ski dimension regulations.
“There was a lot of attention on the development working group in terms of equipment rules, course setting rules and qualification and development plans for the national team,” said USSA sport education director Jon Nolting of the alpine meetings during the congress. “From a course setting stand point, the age appropriate rules needed to be adjusted from the J classes to the U classes.There was a better understanding expressed about why those rules came about, to establish age-appropriate standards that are going to prepare kids for the demands that they’re going to have as they are older, particularly with the equipment changes.”
According to Nolting, during the congress meetings the alpine development committee also moved to adopt the coming ski length regulations for all USSA races as soon as the regulations become mandatory at the regional FIS level.
“The other piece that stood out was a move for U18 athletes to get more head-to-head competition as a focus of selection,” said Nolting. “That’s definitely a change in philosophy and part of the objective there is to create a meaningful series for those athletes so that they don’t need to chance all over the country for points and they can focus their training and efforts into one established set of high quality races.”
A special session was held to focus on venue development, with the goal of bringing the USSA, local clubs, resorts and safely developers together to bolster the nation’s quiver of established competitions sites with the latest in safety equipment and race infrastructure.
As Marolt made clear to the organization in his keynote speech, the entire USSA is focused on reaching the “best in the world” mark, not only at the elite level but at the developing level as well.
“Development is and has always been one of our bigger challenges. We have never really put into place a development program that we can say is best in the world,” said Marolt, who plans to reach that goal in part by opening the USSA academy this fall. “We are excited because we have an athletic development pipeline and now we are going to have an academic pipeline that lays right over the top of the athletic pipeline. At the end of the day a young person that gets into our program is going to have a great athletic experience and at the same time, when they are finished with their skiing careers they are going to have a degree and a great future.”