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Ex-alpiner Shepherd to coach U.S. ski-cross team

The U.S. Ski Team took another big step to support the newest Olympic sport, naming its first ski-cross head coach. Tyler Shepherd, who competed for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team when ski cross was introduced at the World Championships in 2005, was named U.S. ski-cross head coach.
PARK CITY, Utah — The U.S. Ski Team took another big step to support the newest Olympic sport, naming its first ski-cross head coach. Tyler Shepherd, who competed for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team when ski cross was introduced at the World Championships in 2005, was named U.S. ski-cross head coach.
    The event is poised to become the newest Olympic event in 2010 at Vancouver. The U.S. will hold its first ski-cross World Cup in February as a part of the Visa Freestyle International, Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
    U.S. Freestyle Director Polly-Jo Clark announced the appointment of Shepherd, a former U.S. Ski Team alpine racer who turned to ski cross after completing his All-America ski racing career for the University of Colorado.
    Shepherd will oversee the team’s ski-cross program heading to Vancouver. According to Clark, one of his key responsibilities will be working with her on developing an athlete identification system and ultimately a selection process for 2010.
    “With ski cross becoming an Olympic event, it’s vital that we enhance our program and help build the sport,” Clark said. “Ski cross is an exciting addition to the Olympic schedule because of the anything-can-happen nature of the event. Tyler’s a natural choice as coach. He understands the USSA development pipeline and we’re pleased to have him as our point man as we move toward the 2010 Games.”
    “I couldn’t be more excited to be in this position and get a program together,” Shepherd said. “My first priority will be educating the ski-cross community on our direction and the procedures to enter World Cup competitions and ultimately qualify for the Olympics.
    “Ski cross is unique in that you literally learn on the fly,” he added. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to begin putting a program and system in place so that we can make that happen and allow athletes to develop and excel in ski cross.”
    Shepherd was All-American in slalom during the 2002 NCAA Ski Championships in Alaska and left alpine racing in 2004. “After my NCAA eligibility expired, I decided to try ski cross. I had some early success, qualifying for the X Games, and was hooked,” Shepherd said.
    He grew up in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, racing for the Afton Alps Alpine Club before heading west to the heralded Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, developing further before reaching the U.S. Ski Team as an alpine racer. As a ski-cross competitor, he has competed at the highest levels, including not only the World Championships but the X Games, King of the Mountain series and the Salomon Crossmax Tour. All of them are high-level series, attracting the world’s best ski-cross athletes.
    Shepherd, a newlywed (as of a month ago), and his wife, Amanda, live in Denver.

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