After Boston College’s Parker Biele read Ski Racing Media’s initial article on the USST and NCAA relationship, she couldn’t quite wrap her head around what she had just read. As a young competitor at Burke Mountain Academy, Biele never felt like she had reached her full potential. It wasn’t until she started skiing in college that the physical, mental, and emotional factors needed to succeed aligned and she began to ski her best. Based on her experience, the NCAA made her ski racing career. Yet, her biggest takeaway from the article was that as a collegiate athlete, her choices, ability, and determination were considered inferior by the national governing body overseeing skiing in the U.S. As it turns out, her peers harbored similar sentiments.
“When this first article came out, I think it really struck a nerve in all of us,” explained Biele. “I remember getting a call from Storm (Klomhaus) and she was like, ‘Have you seen this,” and then I get a call from Maddie (Lord), saying, ‘What do we do?” Then, we started talking and thought we needed to get a group together, figure out what we wanted to do to move forward, and then try and make our voices heard.”
Fifteen women hopped on a Zoom call to discuss their reaction to the article. A few days later even more women joined the conversation. In total, 25 women who have competed or are currently competing on the NCAA and NorAm circuit have since come together to discuss next steps. There was a common consensus that, as women, and as NCAA athletes, there was a need to stand up for themselves and their community.
As a result, 12 women came forward to share their stories of growing up as competitive ski racers. Whether they have traveled through the national team pipeline or went directly to college from high school racing, each woman’s story is unique to their experience, with one common theme – the college route has played a transformative role in their career.
“Why, then, at 16, was I told that I was done? NCAA skiing isn’t going anywhere, so stop ignoring this huge pool of talented and committed athletes,” said Middlebury athlete, Madison Lord. “Why turn a blind eye to us? We’re all right here.”
As a community, the women are motivated now more than ever to come together and support each other to succeed at the NorAm and collegiate level while competing in season.
In addition, Lord’s Middlebury teammate, Erik Arvidsson, reached out to collaborate in hopes both men and women could come together and speak more loudly and cohesively. Together, both groups are working to come up with a list of actionable items to share with the federation and college teams, in hopes the conversation can become more solution-oriented on both ends of the spectrum.
“If one of us makes it, it’s a victory for all of us,” said Biele. “We support each other no matter what, and I think that’s been evident with this whole project and how fast people wanted to get involved.”
Below are their stories.
Dear ski racing community,
The women of the NCAA would like to share some of their experiences as part of the NCAA institution. We recognize that there are many paths to achieve success, and we believe that collegiate ski racing should be regarded as a viable path to help develop elite level skiers. Furthermore, as our country grapples with issues of systemic racism, the ski racing community must address them as well. We recognize that while presenting our stories may not lead to increased racial diversity in ski racing, they can lead to important conversations about skiing, socioeconomic status and access to achieving one’s true athletic potential.
Our goal is to provide current and future generations of ski racers information to understand the importance of the NCAA route to many successful alpine skiers and express the importance of the opportunity for NCAA athletes to compete on the NorAm circuit. There are many routes to achieving success in this sport – all of them involving hard work and dedication – and we hope this letter encourages skiers to view the collegiate circuit as a possible pathway to help them achieve their goals. Stay tuned for further collaboration amongst NCAA athletes and a strategic solutions proposal.
Women of the NCAA
When I was in college in the 70s, college racing was not as competitive as the World Cup circuit. Today is different. I feel that racing in college can boost an athlete’s performance and boost confidence so that a college ski racer can compete as one of the best in the world. I see college racing as a stepping stone to national teams and World Cup racing. I encourage cooperation between NCAA and FIS in developing a schedule where ski racers have an opportunity to race in Nor Ams and their university (carnival) competitions. Today college racing can be embraced as a means of identifying top ski racers.
– Barbara Ann Cochran, 1972 Olympic Gold Medalist, USST & UVM ’78
My family and I bought into Tiger Shaw’s ideal route to reaching the USST. I moved to Park City to attend the U.S. Team Academy and ski with the National Training Group. My parents did not move with me as I lived with host families, something most 16-year-olds don’t do. Those two years were mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. The way many of us athletes were treated by coaches was borderline abuse. I remember being on the phone with my parents crying almost every single day about wanting to quit skiing all together because of the things coaches were saying to me. I remember showing interest to my coaches about attending college, only to be told I would never make it by going. Before my graduation day I got the call that I was no longer on the National Training Group. I decided to take a post-grad year however, it was plagued by injury and illness. My second post-grad year I podiumed in a Nor-Am, was ranked top 100 in the world in GS, and attended World Juniors where I placed 14th in GS making me the top North American girl. Yet, I still didn’t make the team. I decided it was time to go to college. I have been at the University of Vermont for the last 3 years. UVM has been such an important part of my personal life and skiing career. I have experienced the depth of talented racers on the NCAA circuit, who like me, have been cast aside from their NGB.
– Rachael DesRochers, University of Vermont ’21
My story is nothing extraordinary, but it is an example of the NCAA circuit creating faster, successful skiing, compared to the conventional post-grad (PG) path endorsed by national teams. I was a weekend skier until I was 14 and went to a public high school. I have always loved skiing, and I want to succeed simply to have the opportunity to continue doing it because it’s so much fun. After 2 years as a PG chasing the NorAm circuit, I felt stuck and knew I needed to make a change if I wanted to continue improving in the sport, so I chose to attend the University of Vermont.
I am so thankful for the opportunity UVM has given me because it has allowed me to shift my focus from attaining certain results to developing my skiing. I felt supported as a human and an athlete, rather than judged and assessed as a number. I do not like to read too deep into points and rankings anymore, nor brag about my accomplishments, but my progress throughout my time at UVM shows the magnitude of improvement NCAA skiing has given me.
Going into my freshman year, I was nothing special on paper, ranked at 278th in the world and 38th in the country in slalom, but by the end of my first season, I was ranked 159th in the world and 12th in the country, named EISA rookie of the year, was 3rd at the NCAA championships, and 12th in the overall NorAm slalom standings. In GS, I was ranked 423rd in the world and 62nd in the country before coming to UVM, and after my second year, I was ranked 89th in the world and 8th in the country. This past season I was sidelined with an injury, but I can still say for certain I would not have been at that level without the support from my team.
I am not saying my path is better than that of the US Ski Team, but it should be considered as a legitimate option. As mentioned in multiple articles, there are numerous athletes who have made their way to National Teams and the World Cup both after and while competing in college, despite the discredited reputation division 1 NCAA skiing has. However, collegiate athletes should not have to fight harder to prove their commitment. Personally, skiing in college has increased my dedication to the sport. That is not to say those on national teams are not committed – of course they are. I am simply stating that a variety of obligations does not equate to a lack of dedication. As NCAA athletes, we compete on the NorAm circuit despite our other responsibilities. It would be much easier to stay at school, study, get enough sleep, and only focus on the next college race, but we choose to show up. We still love to ski and want to succeed at a high level. During the season, we are training or racing during the day and studying at night, which is why it’s confusing to see that labeled as a lack of commitment.
We are at those high-level races because we truly want to be. On national teams, there is no choice but to compete in Europe and Nor Ams, which is still a viable path to success, but in college, there are so many other options, yet we still prioritize skiing. Therefore, to be told we are not fully committed is disconcerting to me. We should not be disregarded because we found a way to fund ourselves and get an education while still competing. There are multiple paths to the same destination, and the unconventional path deserves an equal opportunity.
– Francesca English, University of Vermont ’21 (’22 Redshirt)
Attending school and racing on the NCAA circuit has done a lot for me as a person and as a ski racer. One of the biggest factors is that it has opened my eyes to new interests I’m passionate about. Having these new ideas on my mind has made me evaluate my motivation and desire to keep ski racing. When I compare skiing to other interests I realize how much love I have for ski racing. This helps me to see past the bad days and amplify the fact that ski racing and skiing, in general, is unbeatable and I’m privileged to partake.
Evaluating my desire to keep skiing may seem as if I’m not dedicated, but for me making these comparisons has strengthened my desire and motivation to continue skiing and become the best athlete I can be. Sometimes I feel like I can get sucked into the ski racing “vacuum” and control over my own skiing gets sucked away. This is extremely overwhelming and it happened to me a lot before I came to college and it still happens to me while in college. However, it has diminished while I’ve been at school because on a college team you have tremendous support and it engenders ownership of your training, races, goals…etc. There’s schoolwork, classes, training, and racing to balance so I really had to learn to dedicate myself to the task at hand. I also have college coaches who completely understand and support any decision I make, creating an environment in which I have the final say towards what is best for me. I think there is something to be said about standing in the start gate and feeling complete ownership over the run you’re about to take. This feeling helps me take away some of the external pressures and loosen the “vacuum’s” force.
Racing on an NCAA team has the magical ability to take an individual sport and turning it into a team sport. Every race we have teammates taking clothes to the bottom, staying with you at the start, giving you course reports, and just all-round making sure that you are ready for your run. This happens at every race and by every team, it’s an innate aspect of the college circuit to be completely there to support your teammates, and it’s absolutely amazing.
Not only is there a high level of support on the college circuit, but there is also a high level of competition. My University of Denver team had four girls out of six start in the Killington World Cup this year. We have such a high level of competition in our training environment but it’s refreshingly free of personal competition because we genuinely want each other to succeed. Maybe because we have been told that our pathway isn’t ideal so anyone that proves otherwise is a win for us all.
I also believe that going to school has helped me see the bigger picture that is my life. I have found things that I want to do after I finish skiing and so I believe it’s like the saying that once you recognize the finite and impermanent aspect of life you’re more inclined to live every day fully… well, skiing racing will not always be in my life so I better take every chance I have to relish ski racing and become the best skier I can be. In essence, I don’t think I would be the skier I am today and have earned two NorAm slalom titles, two World Cup top 30’s and a top 20 if I hadn’t gone to college. This is not to say that I don’t subscribe to the national team and see the benefits, I’m currently on my national team. But for me taking the college pathway has given me so much, more than I can articulate in this paragraph.
– Amelia Smart, University of Denver ’21
The world is in a very fragile place; we are supposed to be coming together, embracing our differences, yet, we continue to create a divide. Obviously, there are more severe problems in the world that everyone is facing, but to make changes at such a large level, we need to make changes in smaller communities and build on them first.
The US Ski Team has shown consistently they want to be in total control of their destiny, everything outside of their plan is neither acceptable nor applicable in terms of overall success. I always accepted the path as I saw it on the surface but with the subjectivity of the selection process, I have become disheartened by the severity of the broken system. The USST claims to want to provide American athletes the chance to do well on The World Cup, but they ignore the fact that the NCAA continually provides some of their most successful athletes.
I wasn’t a particularly fast U-14 or even U-16 and due to my late physical maturation wasn’t really a competitor until I began competing on the Collegiate Circuit. Due to my work ethic and determination to ski fast, I was able to join the Collegiate Circuit and learn how to race against some of the fastest girls in the country. The excitement of racing NCAA Division 1 continued to fuel my competitive fire, but the idea that I could continue to follow my dreams of racing at the very highest level at the same time pushed me to new heights. I drove on my own to almost every NorAm this past season to continue the pursuit of my ski racing career because I believed I wasn’t limited to collegiate races. I learned at those races I am a competitor along with the handful of my ‘unofficial teammates’ who travel from their college to the NorAms regularly.
From my college experience, I learned the value of a community and team. Both these entities make you stronger and a better competitor. With a support system and a group of people who are collectively striving for the same goals and dreams, you can push each other to be better. You also create a healthier and happier atmosphere amongst the athletes. The USST is missing the “community” part entirely and instead of growing together with those who want to pursue the same goals, they are excluding them. The very leadership of the USST, whether deliberately or not, just extinguished the dream, not just mine – all of ours.
– Parker Biele, Boston College ’21
This past year was my first season competing on the NCAA circuit for Middlebury College, as well as my second season back after tearing both my ACLs. As many athletes know, returning from injury is a challenging journey consisting of both mental and physical demands. For me, the mental aspect was particularly hard at the beginning of this season. After missing a second run in five consecutive World Cups, I was extremely disappointed in myself, however I noticed my ability to mentally bounce back better than the previous year. Instead of continuously beating down on myself, I was able to reflect and move forward quicker. I finished the season with two top 20 World Cups results, scoring my first ever World Cup points. I believe the NCAA track played a substantial role in achieving these results as it allowed me an additional outlet to take some pressure off performing. I was able to reset and focus solely on my skiing rather than just results. I could race with more confidence knowing I had my Middlebury team and academics to welcome me home whether I came fifth or fiftieth. My commitment to skiing and my goals in the sport have remained unchanged since starting at Middlebury but instead of using my free time to binge watch Netflix, I spent time on my studies and with friends and teammates, allowing me to decompress from the overwhelming challenges of this sport. I truly believe that this dual path is one that has and will continue to better prepare me for my present and future ski racing career.
– Ali Nullmeyer, Middlebury College ’23
I put off writing my part of this letter because it opens a wound in my heart. Typically, I’m not one to place blame on anyone but myself – often becoming my own worst enemy as the saying goes. When I don’t get the results I want, I think I should try even harder, but we all know where that rabbit hole can take you in ski racing. I’ve reflected a lot on my ski career as I embark on my senior year of collegiate skiing. When I think about what I could have done differently, those “if” scenarios swarm in my head and I picture how I could have been catapulted to where I wanted to go. After looking for what I was missing, it certainly wasn’t (for lack of a better word) commitment. Rather, I have settled on a lack of belief. It wasn’t a lousy work ethic, it wasn’t not logging enough hours in the gym, hours watching video, hours journaling about my skiing, hours training on the hill or hours of goal making, visualizing, affirmations, etc. I look back and I know I checked those boxes with all of the efforts I could muster. What I never checked off was standing in the start gate and thinking to myself, truly, honestly, deeply thinking to my core, “I can win this race. I can beat these girls. I am better than these girls.” That’s what I never believed. And for a while, I simply thought that I had only myself to blame for this fatal flaw.
Now I wonder if I would have believed in myself more if I felt that belief beaming from the ski racing community around me when I was growing up. Maybe if I wasn’t told that when you graduate from high school without the national team logo slapped on your back at 17, you’re entering retirement. Maybe if I wasn’t told that I’m not committed to ski racing for deciding to join a college team (where I feel so much more of that magical belief in my teammates and in myself). I’m writing this for all of the future “maybe” athletes – in the hopes that kids can stop being told their dreams are over because they didn’t make the criteria that most members of the USST themselves didn’t make and in the hopes that “data” generated by the current fractured system may be abandoned so that we can create an American skiing culture that facilitates the achievement of an athlete’s true potential. You can’t measure the fire in someone’s heart and if the goal is more Americans on the World Cup (which is what we are all striving for), please stop putting it out.
– Madison Lord, Middlebury College ’21
Not American, but Canada is going through a similar problem. As a current athlete on the NCAA and NorAm circuit, I personally didn’t go through the hard decisions of having to miss NCAA races for international races but I think as long as NorAm Finals don’t interfere with the Championships, overlaps should be manageable. Choosing between the NCAA championships/ World Juniors/ World Cup finals is a different story however and a very hard decision for a young athlete with a career in front of them to make. The development in Canada for the past couple years has been weak and unsupportive on the women’s side mostly, so in response to that I chose to go to the championships and represent the university and my teammates that have given me an education and endless support. It seemed like a clear and obvious decision for me to make at the time but it ended up making me lose some sponsors and respect from people in the community which is ironic after having my best season to date. The way I viewed it was that I was going to stay loyal to the system that was currently supporting me and helped me qualify. In the end, I wish I could’ve done both and I wish it had never come down to making this decision so I hope the schedules of both systems find a way to overlap less. That’s the past however and I know Canada is working really hard to turn things around.
– Marina Vilanova, University of Vermont ’23
As a former full-time NCAA and Nor-Am circuit athlete who raced for Dartmouth from 2015-2018, I’m truly disheartened by the latest remarks coming out of the USST regarding pathways and pipelines. Prior to going to Dartmouth, I was on the U.S. Development team for 4 years – the first two during my junior and senior years of high school, and the latter two during the two gap years I took. Being on the team was a dream come true, but it was only a stepping stone to what I ultimately wanted to accomplish. I had all of the lofty goals – and was determined to achieve them. As soon as I was named, I bought into the standards, the culture, and the pipeline. I put on the 15 pounds asked of me, I lived in Park City from summer to fall to train at the COE, I utilized the resources at hand, and I did everything else I was told would help make me one of the best in the world. For four years, I worked my butt off and did all the ‘right’ things. I got way stronger, and my skiing improved, but I had no results to show for it. I was constantly stressed and lived in fear over what my coaches would think of me every race and every training session. After four years, I was burnt out and unhappy.
The following fall, I took my “Plan B” route and enrolled in Dartmouth, where I raced the next 4 years. In my junior year, I got my first-ever Nor-Am podiums, first-ever (what then were) single-digit point results, and finished the year 3rd in the Nor-Am GS standings – 16 points away from a World Cup spot, all while racing a full EISA/NCAA circuit. In my senior year, I raced my first World Cup in Soelden, and my second later that season in Kranjska Gora. I have no intention of glorifying what I did while racing in college – as I don’t hold a candle to what the Roni’s, Paula’s, Laurence’s, etc. have done/are continuing to show what is possible – but the point I want to make is that I am one example for which the U.S. Ski Team pipeline did not work. As much as I hoped and wanted it to, it didn’t.
In the NGB’s leaders’ minds, the argument can be made that neither did the NCAA since I didn’t come close to placing in the top 10 in the four World Cups I started. By continuing to pursue my ski racing goals for the next six years after the U.S. Team, during and post-college, however, I achieved far more than what I ever did while a product of the USST pipeline, and earned a college degree in the process.
I do not wish to bash on the U.S. Ski Team here, but I feel compelled to stand up for the next generation of ski racers – male and female – who are in a similar boat as I was: those who are attending and skiing for college with goals of competing at the top level in the sport. Having had my time to shoot my shot on the NCAA and Nor-Am stage, it wouldn’t be right to see my former teammates and competitors be neglected of the same opportunities I had. The U.S. Ski Team has and will continue to be the primary viable pipeline for producing top-10 World Cup athletes. But my question is why close the door to other paths like the NCAA if it is 1) proven to work time and time again, and 2) the pathway the athletes want to pursue to reach their goals? Failure to accommodate the NCAA path will only lead to untapped potential and lost opportunities.
– Foreste Peterson, Dartmouth College ’18, Team X Alpine 2018-20
Some could argue it takes a unique athlete to make it through the college pipeline. I don’t disagree. However, I argue that it takes a unique athlete to make it through the National Team pipeline too. It takes a unique athlete to make it to an elite level of any sport. That’s why not everybody does it.
The national team doesn’t have the funding to support the development of every single athlete with potential, but schools do. College provides a pathway for a much larger number of athletes who may be developing later, have sustained an injury, or don’t have the money to pay their national team fees. There has to be a better way to work with non-national team athletes to produce an actual future World Cup team by developing a larger pool of athletes through whatever pathway is available; this is a job for the NCAA, clubs, and the national team. No pathway to the top of any sport is easy, and the level of collegiate skiing should not be called into question because good skiing is good skiing wherever you go.
In a recent post by the U.S. Ski Team, an excerpt reads, “While there is often negative commentary that pits the U.S. Ski Team against NCAA skiing, as well as a real difference between the level of collegiate and international competition, the two circuits have a long history of successfully working together for the benefit of the athletes.” In one sentence while claiming that there is cooperation, the level of collegiate skiing is put down when compared to “international competition” (whatever that is referring to).
In the 2019-2020 Noram season, 44% of women who stood on an SL or GS podium were current collegiate skiers or alum. At the Killington World Cup this past season, four out of six of the current University of Denver alpine women raced. Qualifying for NCAA Championships in my opinion was harder than winning a NorAm, given that only three women qualify and four of the options had earned World Cup starts that year. In addition, as many people know, there are a number of current or past collegiate skiers who win Europa Cups or consistently score World Cup top 30s.
To me, it seems like there is not a discrepancy in the level of collegiate skiing. But that is not what it is really about. It is about the athlete and producing the best ski racers, regardless of their unique pathway or what jacket they wear. The pathway you take doesn’t matter if you are the fastest. Inferring that going to school means a lower level of commitment or dedication is a mistake, as is inferring that people can’t reach their goals by a certain age based on a set of statistics.
Life happens; injuries, funding difficulties, and lack of equal opportunities don’t mean that you can’t achieve the results you want in time. Personally, that notion simply made me work harder. Having never made the national team, I would have quit ski racing four years ago without college because I didn’t have another viable choice. The extremely high ability level of my women’s team at DU pushed me to become the best skier I have ever been, both mentally and physically, as well as achieving a college education at 21-years-old, and I don’t think it would have been possible anywhere else. As a country, we could miss out on some of the unique athletes by being so hyper-focused on a pathway they are not a part of.
– Storm Klomhaus, University of Denver ’20
My path to NCAA skiing was similar to many others… I was on the Canadian Development Team for two years, the second year I was out of high school skiing full-time, and that was the first time I began to have doubts about my childhood dream of becoming an Olympic athlete. I was watching my teammates have success and began to wonder why I was different. I was doing the same training, I wanted it just as bad, I have always been at least as fast as them… but the whole season I felt as though something was missing. Perhaps I felt this way because I was a multi-sport athlete for so much of my life and now suddenly without any other sports or the distraction of school there were too many hours in the day to put all of my attention on skiing. I was only 18-years-old but I believe what I started to feel was “burnout,” this is what led me on my search to find a healthier environment for me to continue chasing my ski racing dreams, an environment that encouraged me to expand my mind, learn how to be a better person and teammate, but ultimately still provide an elite program to move my ski racing development along. I ended up at the University of Utah.
It may not be the case that the NCAA system fosters the development of all ski racers or that all skiers racing in the NCAA will improve and reach national team criteria, but can’t the same be said about the national development systems? I didn’t leave the national team to “spite” them, I made the difficult decision to take a different path because it was better for my mental well-being and emotional health. Becoming a student-athlete and being part of an NCAA ski team made me happier, more confident, and it taught me a lot about who I am as a person. The stress management skills I’ve learned as a student-athlete have without a doubt contributed to who I am now as a ski racer. I have stood in the start gate at the Olympics, at World Champs, and I have even stood in the start gate for second run knowing that a World Cup podium is within reach if I can put that perfect run together… but none of those moments compare to the stress you feel while standing in the start gate at NCAA National Champs, when your whole team is down there counting on you to cross the finish and hit a podium position. Our road is less traveled but the skills necessary to navigate an NCAA career should not be discredited, we are not giving up or losing focus of our goals, we know what it takes and we are as committed as ever to becoming the best ski racers we can be. We are simply asking to be given the same respect and opportunity as any other ski racers striving to be the best they can, without NCAA skiers at Nor-Am races the level of competition will drop, that’s a fact. There are still changes we need to make in Canada too about cooperation between the traditional path and NCAA path but if you’re looking for some hard facts: there were 15 skiers named to the Canadian World Cup team this year, 6 of them are current or former NCAA skiers. In other words, 40% of the World Cup team in Canada have a link to NCAA skiing. So maybe the “real difference between the level of collegiate and international competition” isn’t as real as some think…
– Roni Remme, University of Utah ’20
Like most national sports organizations, the USST has a monopoly over alpine skiing in the US. The USST team administration decides the who, what, where, when, why and how, and there is no other organization to challenge it. As you can imagine, several apparent issues arise as a result. The voices of the athletes and community are muted, there is no incentive to innovate, and no one is held accountable — the classic behaviors of a monopoly. On the other hand, the NCAA Collegiate circuit has broken up this behavior and shown the benefits of competition. If you have skied at the D1 level in college, you understand that collegiate skiing is a highly competitive atmosphere fueled by infamous school rivalries. There are no rewards. No cash prizes and no international fame. Just pride and validation. Yet, college athletes are still willing to work just as hard as professional athletes. Where does this drive come from?
To be a successful team on the collegiate circuit, your results rely on the results of your teammates, and therefore you must work together as a team. Consider the success of the Norwegian alpine ski team. The Norwegians believe “team dynamics are the priority above individual ability, good team dynamics lead to good individual results, and team support is essential” (Taylor, 2018). The success of the Norwegians proves that this approach is effective. This kind of positive team culture is replicated on the collegiate circuit and stands as another example of its effectiveness. In my personal experiences at Middlebury, we prioritize team culture. A part of the recruiting process considers the character of potential recruits and their ability to “blend with the team” and foster “a good dynamic”. Throughout the year, we hold each other to a clear standard and we make sure this is upheld throughout the year, but we also make sure everyone is enjoying themselves. When I decided to go to college, I was burnt out and had no plans of further developing as a skier. But when I was in college, I felt my improvement was inevitable. I was so inspired by the people around me and how dedicated everyone was to help each other and this made me fall in love with the sport again. Based on the distressing accounts of female athletes previously on the national team, it is evident that positive team culture does not exist on the USST. For example, the NTG program was infamous for the mistreatment of female athletes and overall lack of support. The reason the USST is the way it is is because of the monopoly it holds. Without any institution to challenge the USST, change is unlikely to happen on its own. In all fairness, I’m sure they believe they are doing everything in the best interest to develop skiers, but they have not been as successful as they could have been. As we constantly compare ourselves to the ways of the Europeans, the USST has criticized the very institution that most accurately replicates the European approach. We continue to use Europe as the standard path to success when we should be developing our own culture based on the strengths of our country.