The article “USST, NCAA butt heads over NorAm schedule” is nothing new to me, but the arrogance surrounding Tiger Shaw is appalling. As a current NCAA athlete, my ability to compete in the NorAm circuit has been completely diminished due to race conflicts. While that is clearly an issue, what I find to be the biggest problem is Tiger Shaw’s ideal route to the U.S. Ski Team.
As someone who dedicated and sacrificed so much to follow this ideal pipeline to reach the U.S. Ski Team only to be turned down for really no apparent reason is aggravating. When I was 16 years old, I moved to Park City Utah to attend the U.S. Team Academy and train with the National Training Group. My parents and I were sold on the fact that this was a great opportunity for me to reach the USST.
The next 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 in attending college and being shut down by my coaches saying “you’ll never make it by going to college.”
Once I graduated from Team Academy and was dropped from the National Training Group, I made the decision to take a post-grad year with Team Summit over going straight to college in order to continue my pursuit of making the USST. My first post-grad year was plagued with injuries and illness so I decided to take another year with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. My second post-grad year I podiumed in a NorAm, was ranked top 100 in the world in GS, competed in World Juniors and placed 14th in GS at World Juniors making me the top North American girl.
Despite all of these achievements, I was not placed onto the USST. I felt defeated, as Shaw states I was “dedicating your life to these goals,” of reaching the ski team, yet was dismissed when I should have rightfully made it.
Bias has also been a big part of the USST. My family’s finances have limited my ability to afford everything the USST had asked of me to do, and I believe this may have played a role in not being named to the team that second post-grad year.
After not being named, I made the decision to go to college. For the last three years I have been competing for the University of Vermont. The college circuit has played such a positive impact on my skiing career and personal life. While personally I haven’t reached the skiing success I used to, I have seen others excel after coming to college. Those who believe college isn’t a viable stepping stone to reaching a national team and eventually the World Cup circuit clearly are not paying close enough attention to the NCAA circuit.
Change within the NGB needs to happen and hopefully my story goes to show that Shaw’s proposed “best route” is not the answer.
— Rachael DesRochers
University of Vermont
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