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March 2021 – National Alpine Development Update

By Chip Knight
March, 24 2021
National Alpine Development Update

World Junior Ski Championships

The 2021 World Junior Ski Championships recently concluded in Bansko, Bulgaria, where Team USA celebrated two SL medals: gold from Ben Ritchie (Green Mountain Valley School) and bronze from AJ Hurt (Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Ski Team), on the way to a 6th place finish overall in the Hodler Cup team ranking.  Other notable performances included Isaiah Nelson (Buck Hill Ski Club) finishing in the top-10 in both SG and GS, Zoe Zimmermann (Burke Mountain Academy) finishing 6th in SL, and Cooper Puckett (Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club) winning the U18 competition in SG.  This year’s WJSC event was shortened due to the pandemic, with the DH, AC, and Team events not contested and nation quotas cut in half.  Still, the organizers successfully created a COVID-safe bubble for the athletes and coaches, and they hosted exceptional races on the same venue where the men’s World Cup races were held in early March. 

College Skiing

In early March, Tiger Shaw, Jesse Hunt, and Chip Knight hosted a video-conference call with EISA and RMISA college coaches to further discuss initiatives that are being taken to build bridges between the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Ski and Snowboard and college athletes.  Among the key points was to describe how the uniquely American college skiing system fits into the national alpine program as a way for athletes to remain competitively engaged in the sport into their early 20s, and to continue to further their elite development through exposure to the NorAm and Europa Cup levels of competition.  Additional items discussed were: improving channels of communication, advance planning to avoid FIS-UNI and NorAm calendar conflicts; preparation period training opportunities; more transparent World Cup qualification pathways and support; modifications to USST criteria, and some of the notable success stories from the year of collegiate athletes achieving higher-level results in Europe: Paula Moltzan, Katie Hensien, Erik Arvidsson, Alex Leever, Jett Seymour, and Andrew Miller.

National Development Group European Trips

This month, regional coaches Kristina Revello, Rich Smith, and Fletcher McDonald each led National Development trips in Europe.  The goal was to provide junior athletes with higher-level competitive exposure to prepare them for future NorAm, World Juniors, Europa Cup and World Cup competition.  Each of the groups adhered to the U.S. Ski Team COVID policies and procedures, operating within a strict bubble to be as safe as possible.  While many of the athletes achieved podium performances during the trips, Oliver Morgan (Burke Mountain Academy), Benny Brown (Park City Ski and Snowboard), Camden Palmquist (Team Summit), and Jay Poulter (Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club) notably posted race wins on European turf. 

U.S. Alpine Championships

The 2021 U.S. Alpine Championships will be held in Aspen, CO from April 5-16.  This event will take the place of the previously scheduled NorAm Finals, which were unable to be contested due to ongoing Canadian travel restrictions.  The event will be held at 50% of traditional field sizes, and it will be staggered by gender to stay within the 100-athlete maximum COVID field size restriction.  The men will start with technical events, moving into SG and AC, before overlapping with the women for DH.  The Championships will conclude with women’s SG, AC, GS, and SL events.  Second FIS events will also be held in SG, AC, and DH to add additional race opportunities in the speed events.  On behalf of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, we are all looking forward to being in Aspen for the National Championships!

Junior National Championships

U.S. Ski & Snowboard staff worked hard to try to calendar a Junior National Championship this year.  Unfortunately, due to COVID-related concerns, we were unable to gain the necessary approvals to move forward with a viable Championship event.  Special thanks go out to our partners at Loveland and Breckenridge for being willing to host the races.  We will look forward to the 2022 Junior Nationals next year, and to seeing our best juniors from around the country competing together. 

Alpine Guide to Ski Fundamentals

The newly updated version of the Alpine Guide to Ski Fundamentals is now available!  This is a classic coaching resource that has been utilized by coaches across our country for many years. In addition to the drill progressions that coaches have grown to expect, you will also find several updated resources to help your athletes develop their technical and tactical skills. 

Purchase on the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Coaches Shop: