U.S. Ski & Snowboard has announced the pending resignation of its President and CEO Tiger Shaw effective March 1, 2022 following the Beijing Winter Olympics. Shaw will be named CEO emeritus upon his resignation and will join the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Foundation board as a trustee focusing on several key fundraising priorities including athlete funding. The board will begin a search for its next CEO immediately with the objective of having a new CEO in place in time to overlap with Shaw prior to his departure next March.
In an interview with Ski Racing Media Wednesday, Shaw said he doesn’t have any immediate plans for the next chapter after his departure in less than 12 months. He is focused on running the organization and facilitating a smooth transition.
“I’m focused on … getting through this moment and communicating to everybody that I plan to move on but stay very involved as a board member,” Shaw said. “I don’t know what I’m doing next yet, but I was thinking if there was ever a good time to go for another trick in my career … to do something else before I retire, this is the right timing and with great advance warning to everybody so I can orchestrate a great transition.”
The 59-year-old Shaw joined U.S. Ski & Snowboard in October of 2013. During his tenure, he will have served through three Olympic Games and 12 world championships. He replaced Bill Marolt as president and CEO after the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.
Both Shaw and U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chairman of the Board Kipp Nelson said the Olympic cycle was a factor in the decision, whether or not Shaw would end his tenure after Beijing or pursue another four-year stretch.
“I work in quads,” said Shaw. “That got me reflecting, if I’m going to do something else, then I really need to tee that up now. Kipp and I started discussing it, and this is where we landed.”
Among the accomplishments during his tenure, Shaw points to improvements in athlete funding (but acknowledges there’s still a need for growth in that area), support for professional development in coaches, and improvement in the athlete experience. During his time, the Foundation endowment grew from $36M to nearly $60M, enabling $3M in annual athlete funding, and organizational debt has declined by more than $10M, according to the organization.
But that’s not to say the job didn’t come without a few surprises.
“I never thought (the role) would be as diverse as it is — the number of different types of things this person, the CEO of this organization, deals with on a given day is stunning,” Shaw told SRM.
“We’re a sports-marketing property, trying to generate as much commercial revenue as possible. We have one of the world’s greatest foundation boards that supports us incredibly, but there’s a lot of donor stewardship and communicating that is a big part of my job,” Shaw said. “Then, there are the sports-team challenges, trying to get better, trying to make the right decisions, having the right people, get the results that you need to be an attractive team and company. Then, of course, we have large constituencies that are passionate about how we run, from our clubs to our officials to our administrators, the media, you name it … all coupled with seven completely different sports, all married together. I didn’t realize the breadth and depth of the role.”
Shaw said he has loved the job and is proud of where he is leaving the organization. The state of athlete funding is at the top of his list of achievements, compared to where it was six years ago. But he says he wishes he could have closed the gap earlier.
“There’s nothing I could be more proud of,” he said. “It should be a merit-based situation where the better you get, the more you get picked up and the less expensive it is. Granted, a lot of our sports are fabulously expensive until you make the national team … and that’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Among the top issues Shaw faces over the remaining months are closing the funding gap in snowboard and freeski, continuing to improve the culture of being on the national teams, and renewing the commitment to all athletes with Olympic dreams, he said.
“We need a major commitment. You can’t beat the world’s best without being as committed as the world’s best,” he said. “It’s a wonderful trip, but it ain’t easy. … It’s been an emotional day with my staff. They became informed today, and we’re going to work through that in the coming days and help everybody feel really good about the future, standing behind a future leader yet to be chosen.”
For the board and its chair, Nelson, the search for a replacement begins immediately, although a formal search committee has not yet been formed. He expects the committee will look within the snow-sports industry, but they are also open to the possibility that the next CEO may come from another industry entirely.
“There are great examples of people coming into sports that came from other places,” Nelson told SRM. “If we did end up with someone from outside the snow-sports industry, then it’s on us to augment the management to make sure that we don’t have a blind eye over the athletic component.
“We have had great leadership under Tiger during his tenure, guiding the organization through both good and difficult times. He leaves a legacy of achievement and change with permanent benefit,” said Nelson. “While we are saddened by his future departure, we understand his desire to pursue other endeavors and wish him the very best. We are so pleased Tiger will continue his close involvement with U.S. Ski & Snowboard as CEO Emeritus and as a Foundation Trustee undoubtedly championing many of the key initiatives he launched as CEO.”
Nelson told SRM Wednesday, Shaw’s role as CEO Emeritus will be unpaid.
The U.S. Ski & Snowboard press office contributed to this report.