USSA wraps up successful 2012 Partner Summit

It was a record turnout at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s Partner Summit in Park City, Utah Thursday with nearly 200 industry professionals in attendance.

Chief marketing officer Mike Jaquet led the discussion before a standing-room-only audience at the Center of Excellence — the focus being on digital strategy, such as the use of social media, and the prospects for Sochi in 2014 with a heavy dose of Vancouver nostalgia.

The day’s big news was the announcement of 10 confirmed nationally televised USSA events for this upcoming season, something Janquet called the organization’s “top priority.”

“The first project out of the gate was the NBC schedule,” said Jaquet, who was named to the marketing post in April. “This is the fastest by far that we’ve ever locked down our minutes on NBC. That’s significant.”

USSA said details of the schedule will be made public in the near future, but fans can expect a wide array of domestic events to be televised throughout the winter.

Jaquet also announced a new YouTube channel that will produce a weekly, multi-sport program. It will allow USSA to track its fans and better deliver content to them.

“This is unprecedented for us to put this amount of content out there and put these resources into a digital space,” Jaquet said. “It will help get people to know our athletes on and off the slopes.”

Jaquet went on to unveil the organization’s 18-month plan, which included better communication with partners, more live, relevant and marketable TV, continued and improved athlete development aided, in part, by the founding of the USSA academy, development of a stronger digital strategy and, finally, getting to Sochi and dominating the Games.

Among the event’s other speakers were Dexter Paine, chairman of the Board of Directors, who called USSA the most successful governing body in the country, UFC chief marketing officer Bryan Johnston (formally of Burton) and Path co-founder and CEO Dave Morin, who recently became a USSA trustee.

Executive vice president of athletics Luke Bodensteiner delivered the day’s state-of-the-athlete address with an emphasis on preparations for Sochi. He said Russia is a “very different place,” compared to Vancouver, which was essentially a home game for the Americans.

Bodensteiner detailed some of the measures being put into place, saying the priority is “performance on the day. We’ve got one shot. … We were fortunate in Vancouver. We had a relatively young team. The immediate challenge for us was to make sure those athletes continued for another four years.”

Bodensteiner also emphasized the significance of adding five new Olympic sports — ski and snowboard slopestyle, women’s ski jumping, ski halfpipe and parallel slalom snowboard. The new events have lit a fire within a whole new sector of ski and snowboard competitors, and USSA has made a commitment to develop those athletes, he said.

“It’s really a golden opportunity for us,” Bodensteiner said. “It’s important during the last 18 months — or now until Sochi — that (the athletes) get a real sense of confidence for what’s going to happen in March of 2014.”

The program continued with discussion panels including athletes Tom Wallisch, Ted Ligety, Chas Guldemond, Elena Hight, Tucker Perkins, Grete Eliassen, Sarah Hendrickson, as well as U.S. Freeskiing and Snowboarding director Jeremy Forster and VP of events Calum Clark. –Geoff Mintz



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