The United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) held its annual Summer Conference on Saturday June 13, with over 30 coaches, athletes, coordinators and board members connecting to review the 2019-20 season and discuss plans for 2020-21. While the Summer Conference recognized the successes of the past season – notably, the 2020 Collegiate Ski and Snowboard National Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., and the expansion of USCSA Nordic into the Midwest – it also reckoned with the challenges posed by a tumultuous spring and summer.
USCSA President Adam Stark’s opening remarks set the tone for the day’s proceedings, calling attention to both the physical changes demanded by COVID-19 and the national issues of race and racism amplified by the murder of George Floyd. While he emphasized that the coming season will undoubtedly be one of adaptation and evolution for the USCSA, it will also give the league “an opportunity to lead […] snowsport organizations” in cultural, public health, and competitive innovations and best practices.
“The engagement in our virtual format of our annual summit due to the current travel restrictions was a welcome success for the USCSA,” said USCSA Executive Director Alec Tandara-Kuhns. “We were able to perform the necessary business functions of the organization, host reflective sessions from our action committees and collaborate on initiatives for next season. The future of the USCSA is still very bright in these turbulent times.”
Race, Racism, and Snowsport
Echoing earlier statements by the Board of Directors, Stark was unequivocal in articulating the USCSA’s position that racism “will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form by any athlete, coach or official”. In order to foster a snowsport culture that is open and inclusive, and that seeks to actively educate itself on issues of race and social justice, the USCSA announced a partnership with the Wyoming-based community organization SNOW. The USCSA plans to pursue further organizational and institutional partnerships and learning opportunities in preparation for the 2020-21 season.
New Executives, Student Representatives
In advance of the Summer Conference, the USCSA elected Chris Shumeyko as the new President of the USCSA Board of Directors and Bo Bigelow as Executive Vice President, with their tenure beginning July 1st. “It’s an absolute honor to become the next President of the USCSA,” President-elect Shumeyko said. “Adam, along with the Board of Directors made critical decisions over the past three years to stabilize the organization and set us up for successful growth in the near-future. Despite these challenging times, I’m excited to watch the USCSA continue to provide an avenue to snowsports competitions for college athletes across the country.” Also recognized at the conference were the incoming class of National Student Representatives, including Luke Dykowski (Nordic, University of Minnesota ‘22), Lili Bauer (Snowboard/Freeski, Lees-McRae College ‘21), Katie Brust (Alpine, University of South Dakota ‘22), and Charlie Naples (Alpine, Syracuse University ‘22).
Continuing Successes in All Disciplines
The USCSA indicated continued, national-level commitment to expanding and strengthening Nordic skiing, particularly in the Midwest. In summarizing the progress in the region, Dykowski noted that attentiveness to student athletes’ active “desire and capacity to create and shape their competitive environments” had been, and would remain, critical to ensuring the success of Nordic in the Midwest. In an additional prong of this campaign, the USCSA is also exploring plans to revive its Nordic programs in the Pacific Northwest. The example set by the Midwest will be useful in guiding this endeavor.
Alpine skiing had a strong season, and USCSA Sport Committee has continued to put an emphasis on safety precautions at all races nationwide. A key part of this effort is ensuring that USCSA has a strong core group of officials, and developing this will remain a focus of the committee during the 2020-21 season.
The 2019-20 season also marked the introduction of a berth system for snowboard and freeski teams to qualify to the Collegiate Ski and Snowboard National Championships. The system worked well, and the Sport Committee is continuing to have discussions about how to use lessons learned to continuously approve the berth system while growing snowboard and freeski competition throughout the nation.
Nationals 2021 Venue Announced
Public health conditions permitting, the 2021 US Collegiate Ski and Snowboard National Championships will be held at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., from March 7-13. Nordic events will be held at the Tamarack Nordic Center.
In addition to noting their continued dedication to hosting world-class competitions, Conference attendees discussed the importance of establishing an experienced core of Nordic volunteers at National Championship events.
The Conference concluded with a wide-ranging discussion on the challenges to recruiting, registration, and competition created by COVID-19. To address these challenges, the USCSA will be forming a COVID-19 task force, which will advise the Board of Directors, Coordinators, and appropriate action committees on best practices to ensure athletes remain engaged and safe throughout the 2020-21 season. The recommendations of the task force will be discussed further at the USCSA’s tentatively scheduled Fall Conference.
The USCSA is the sports federation for collegiate team ski racing and snowboarding in America. The USCSA believes that student-athletes of all levels and abilities should have access to quality and exciting venues of competition. USCSA athletes agree that our team orientation fosters a collaborative approach across their collegiate athletic and academic careers, and often this mentality proves indispensable in their adult lives and careers. The organization includes 162 colleges from coast to coast, fielding 4,954 male and female, alpine, freestyle, cross-country, snowboarding and nordic ski jumping athletes in over 300 events annually.
Release courtesy of USCSA.