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Sustainability

U.S. Ski & Snowboard, a national and global leader in snow sports, is committed to addressing climate change and stewarding sustainability of winter sports. Millions globally are inspired by winter sports and enjoy healthy, active lifestyles in winter environments. Climate change threatens our winter environments with receding glaciers, rising sea levels, volatile weather cycles and less snowfall.

Anticipation Builds for Minneapolis World Cup 2020

By Tom Horrocks
July, 18 2019
Course Start
Members of the FIS, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, and the Loppet Foundation - organizers of the Fastenal Parallel 45 Winter Festival - view the start/finish area for the 2020 FIS Cross Country World Cup scheduled for March 17. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Tom Horrocks)

Over a pair of warm and muggy summer days, while a number of the athletes of the U.S. Cross Country Ski were enjoying summer skiing on the Eagle Glacier in Alaska, members of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and staff from U.S. Ski & Snowboard were hosted by the Loppet Foundation - organizers of the Fastenal Parallel 45 Winter Festival - for in-depth planning meetings around the first FIS Ski World Cup Cross Country event on American soil since 2001.

When the best cross country athletes gather at Theodore Wirth Park, just a few miles west of downtown Minneapolis, on March 17, 2020 (also St. Patrick’s Day) they will be greeted by thousands of fans and a challenging 1.7k freestyle sprint course for an exciting evening event that will cap a four-day festival featuring amateur races and live music.

Eight months before miles of television and timing cable is placed, the finish stadium is built and the athletes arrive, FIS Cross Country Race Director Michal Lamplot already feels the excitement of a successful event.

“What we have seen here shows that both U.S. Ski & Snowboard and the local organizing committee are well on their way to hosting a very successful event. Everyone is enthusiastic and very well prepared. It was a great meeting, these two days, and we are sure that the event will be a success and we are very optimistic about the first (cross country) World Cup event in the U.S. after a lot of years.”
 – Michal Lamplot, FIS Cross Country Race Director

“The impression I received from the FIS folks is that we’re on the right track,” said Mike Bono, chairman of the local organizing committee comprised of Loppet Foundation staff and volunteers. “We have a path to get there, and we have very competent people that will get us there.”

Already more than a year of planning has gone into hosting the World Cup event, from course design to transportation planning to facilitate the arrival of the expected 20,000 fans. But the Loppet Foundation is no stranger to big events. They host events annually that draw an excess of 25,000 participants and spectators to the 759-acre park that features not only cross country skiing but snowshoeing, tubing, sledding, fat biking, and a snowboard/freeski terrain park.

This season’s event, which organizers hope will be the first of many, comes on the heels of the FIS World Cup freestyle and classic sprints March 14-15 in Quebec City, a frequent stop on the World Cup circuit. After the Minneapolis event, a number of athletes will travel on to Canmore, Alberta, Canada, March 20-21, for the final three events of the World Cup season, including a freestyle mass start, classic pursuit, and mixed relay events.

With a jammed-packed schedule for the final week of the World Cup season, and a challenging sprint course at Wirth Park featuring a trio of short, punchy climbs, the athletes will need to be on their best form.

“I think it’s going to be a good course,” Lamplot said. “Good uphills, technical downhills, so I think it is going to be a really good sprint course for sure.”

With a late-afternoon start time, fans will have the opportunity to experience the event and all the surrounding festivities from beer gardens, to the expo village and live music. In addition, they will enjoy an up-close view for cheering on world-class athletes throughout many areas of the course with both free and paid admission ticket opportunities. In creating a festive atmosphere for spectators, the Loppet Foundation hopes the event will introduce many new fans to the sport.

“We want the spectators to have a great time, and we want to get more people interested and involved in cross country skiing,” Bono said. “There are a number of people that are not aware of the sport, and I think when they see the World Cup athletes here, they will come away with a much different idea and feeling about the sport.”

Tickets for the 2020 Fastenal Parallel 45 Winter Festival FIS Cross Country World Cup go on sale next month. For more information about the event, visit the official event website at mnworldcup.com.
 

Vladimir Lebedev Named Head Aerials Coach

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
July, 17 2019
Lebedev at water ramps
U.S. Ski & Snowboard has named Vladimir Lebedev as Head Aerials Coach for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Sarah Brunson)

U.S. Ski & Snowboard has named Vladimir Lebedev as Head Aerials Coach for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. Lebedev will take over the position from Emily Cook, who has served as interim head coach since Todd Ossian left the team in May after a nine-year tenure. 

“We are excited to announce Vladimir as our head aerials coach for the U.S. Ski Team,” said Jeremy Forster, director of freestyle for U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “Vlad is widely respected within the aerials community and brings a history of coaching success with him to this team. His passion for the sport and clear vision sets a high standard for his athletes. I look forward to working with him in his new position.”

Born and raised in Uzbekistan, Lebedev was introduced to the sport of aerials skiing when he was five by his uncle who was president of the Uzbekistan Ski Association. Lebedev worked his way through the ranks and eventually moved to Moscow to compete for the Russian National Ski Team for 10 years, from 2000 - 2010. He earned a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, the crowning achievement of his professional aerials skiing career. In 2011, Lebedev made the tough decision to move from competing to coaching, after sustaining a second injury to his right knee. 

Lebedev coached the Russian development team for four years, until the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. From 2014 - 2017, Lebedev served as a World Cup coach. His athletes earned an impressive 12 medals at the Junior World Championships during his tenure, four of which were gold. He found success with Kristina Spiridoniva, who finished third in the Aerials Grand Prix in 2018, as well as with Ilya Burov, who earned a bronze medal at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. 

Prior to being named head aerials coach for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Lebedev served as a World Cup coach for the U.S. Moguls Team. Because of his expertise in aerial maneuvers, Lebedev was instrumental in helping many U.S. athletes improve their air executions on the moguls field. 

Eric Bergoust will remain on staff as World Cup Coach along with continuing his efforts in Development. He looks forward to working with Lebedev in his new position. “I’m excited to continue as World Cup Aerial Coach, working with Vladimir,” said Bergoust. “Vlad and I have been friends for over fifteen years and we work well together because we are both committed to doing whatever it takes to help our team succeed.”

Lebedev enjoys coaching because of the challenge. “All the athletes on the team are different. It’s up to me and my staff to find specific goals for each of them. We have a lot of conversations in the gym, on the ramps, on snow, etc, to come up with a strategy that works for each person. Coaching, especially in a discipline like aerials, is not like a regular nine to five job. Every day is a new and different day. I have to be in tune with each athlete, with how they’re feeling, etc, to make adjustments.”

One of Lebedev’s biggest goals moving into the 2019-2020 competition season is to create a cohesive team culture. With the end of the Ossian era, Lebedev knows it is important to get the athletes and staff all on the same page so that there is continuity and progression moving forward. 

Beyond the immediate, Lebedev has his sights set high for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing which will include the new Team Aerials event. “I am working on developing specific athlete plans through the 2022 Olympics. I break these down from yearly, to seasonal, to monthly, to daily goals. A lot of it is general because we are constantly making changes depending on how the day-to-day goes.”

Lebedev transitioned from the moguls to the aerials coaching staff this spring and the aerials athletes are already responding positively to him as a leader for their team. “After knowing Vlad for over a decade and working with him for the past couple months in Park City, it is obvious to me and my teammates that he is going to lead this team in a phenomenal fashion,” reflected three-time Olympian and 2017 Aerials World Champion Ashley Caldwell (Asburn, Va.). “The experience he brings from being an athlete, a coach for Russia, and a coach for the U.S. Moguls team, coupled with his enthusiasm and character are going to make for an unstoppable leader and head coach.”

U.S. Athletes Find Training Paradise on Mt. Hood

By Andrew Gauthier
July, 16 2019
Hunter Henderson and Mac Forehand
Mac Forehand and Hunter Henderson taking full advantage of the sunset shoot at Mt. Hood. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Ryan Wyble)

Over a week of U.S. freeski and snowboard summer training camp is in the books and it’s been anything but boring for U.S Team athletes. Thanks to U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s official training partners Timberline Lodge and Ski Area, Windells Camp, and High Cascade Snowboard Camp, skiers and riders were not only able to get multiple repetitions on the amazing terrain at Mt Hood, but athletes also had a chance to unwind, build team comradery, and experience the mountain in a very unique way. From an overnight team BBQ at 7,000 feet to a sunset photo and video shoot, athletes took full advantage of their time on the Palmer Glacier. 

On the evening of Friday, July 12th, 17 athletes across the U.S. Snowboard slopestyle and the  U.S. Freeski slopestyle and halfpipe teams enjoyed a night at the famed Silcox Hut. The Silcox Hut at Timberline Lodge and Ski Area is the ultimate bed & breakfast experience at elevation and is open all year for overnight stays for groups of 12 to 24 people. 

“Once we saw the amazing set up at the Silcox Hut, we decided we had to set up a BBQ and overnight for the athletes in 2019,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Head Freeski and Snowboard Coach Mike Jankowski. “It was truly an awesome experience that we definitely plan to do in the coming years with more of the teams.”

The BBQ wasn’t just burgers and dogs, but also offered learning opportunities for athletes. During the BBQ, Wade Gilbert from the USOPC (United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee) Apollo Project shared some ideas and information with athletes and coaches in regards to the National Team Coach Education Program. In addition, athletes had the chance to pick the brains of the top former athletes including U.S. Snowboard Team alumnus and Olympian Louie Vito as well as former U.S. Snowboard Team member and Olympic snowboard halfpipe coach Elijah Teter - who recently took on a new role as Director of Snowboarding for Wy’East Mountain Academy and High Cascade Snowboard Camp - in a Q&A format. After the Q&A, athletes were then shuttled via snowcats to a freshly groomed and salted park setup complete with two rope tows and three hours of sunset riding.

“The overnight at Silcox Hut was an incredible experience for the athletes,” said U.S. Snowboard Slopestyle and Big Air National Development Coach Nichole Mason. “The stoke was indescribable on the top of a mountain while the sun was setting. To have all the rookie kids intermixed from the freeski and snowboard teams interacting in such a positive way was amazing to witness. It was a priceless experience to see friendships blossom that will last throughout their careers.”

The sunset shoot has been a tradition for seven years at U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Mt. Hood training camp. Some might not consider a photo and video shoot part of an athlete’s training, but it is very much an important part of what makes them a true and well-rounded freeski and snowboard athlete. A recent report conducted by U.S. Ski & Snowboard called the Athlete Project unveiled the fact that athletes desire additional resources when it comes to capturing and producing content, especially at training camps. Access to more quality content allows athletes to take the lead in building their own brand and audience, which benefits the entire sport as a whole. Not to mention, their busy competition schedules often don’t allow them to collect as much content as they would like, so filming at a training camp is a major benefit for freeskiers and riders who are constantly trying to balance these two worlds. 

“Filming is really important to me and my career as a freeskier,“ said U.S. Freeski Pro Team member Colby Stevenson (Park City, Utah). “Content is what can build your audience, set you apart from other skiers, and also keeps you motivated as competition can sometimes be frustrating. It’s really cool that the U.S. Team and Timberline invested in the opportunity for athletes to capture some great content in a beautiful environment in the midst of an official training camp.”

After the sunset shoot, athletes returned to Silcox Hut. Some of the team woke up for sunrise followed by a delicious waffle and fruit breakfast. After they refueled from their busy night at the park, the team booted up and walked right over to the Palmer chair for another busy day of training at Timberline’s Pro Park. It was on-snow convenience at its finest.

There is something special about breaking out of the box and adding these unique elements to U.S. Ski & Snowboard training camps and it would not be possible without the support of Timberline Lodge & Ski Area, which provided amazing terrain, facilities, and went above and beyond by offering access to the Silcox Hut for the athletes. Stay tuned for more content coming out of U.S. freeski and snowboard summer training camp at Mt. Hood.
 

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Ted Ligety Scales Back Race Schedule to Focus on GS

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
July, 16 2019
Ted Ligety Scales Back Race Schedule
Two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety has announced that he will only be racing in giant slalom World Cup events this season. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

Double Olympic champion Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) has announced that he will be scaling back his race schedule for the 2019-20 season. 

Ligety, who will turn 35 this summer, has struggled with various back and knee injuries since his last FIS Ski World Cup victory in 2015. He announced in a recent interview with KPCW radio that he will only be racing in giant slalom World Cup events this season, which kicks off Oct. 27 in Soelden, Austria. 

“So it’ll be a little bit easier schedule on my body,” Ligety said. “I’ll be able to be home a little bit more as well, and then we see. I mean, I would like to keep going as long as I feel like I can win races and feel healthy. That’s really the biggest part, and nowadays I have a 2-year-old son, and there’s more factors than there was when I was 25 years old.”

Ligety, nicknamed “Mr. GS” for his giant slalom prowess, has a 2014 Olympic gold medal and three world titles in that event. He also has an Olympic alpine combined gold medal from 2006, and world titles in the super-G and alpine combined from 2013. 

“There’s a lot of hard miles on my body up to this point, but I’m still enjoying it,” said Ligety, whose 321 World Cup starts are the most among active Olympic medalists now that Lindsey Vonn (Vail, Colo.) and Aksel Lund Svindal have retired. “Right now, I feel really healthy and trying to get to a point where I feel I can win races. That’s the goal right now.”

Check out the full article on olympics.nbcsports.com. 

Women's Alpine Development Hits Snow with All-Female Staff

By Megan Harrod
July, 16 2019
Women's Development Camp Staff
A portion of the all-female coaching staff for the Mammoth women's alpine development camp poses for a picture, including Head Women's Development Coach Marjan Cernigoj and Alpine Development Director Chip Knight (middle) and newly-hired women's C Team coach Katie Twible (far right).

The second women’s development camp of the 2019-20 prep period at U.S. Ski & Snowboard official training site Mammoth Ski Area in California wrapped on June 28, led by head women’s development coach Marjan Cernigoj and highlighted by an all-female coaching staff from across the nation. 

Cernigoj, who has been with U.S. Ski & Snowboard in the alpine development role for just over one year now, said the first camp was in late April, early May and Mammoth served up excellent training conditions and hospitality for both camps. 

“Everything was amazing,” reflected Cernigoj. “We got lucky with the weather - ninety percent of the success of the camp came from our luck with the weather, with the ability to have daily situations for good training. Mammoth gave us pretty much everything we asked for on the hill - space, very accommodating. Both camps at Mammoth were incredible. We’ll return here. We had great service.” 

This second camp was slightly different in nature, as Cernigoj and Alpine Development Director Chip Knight invited U16 girls from across the nation, for a total of 21 athletes, eight women staff members and Cernigoj as the leader of the camp. “We had eight days on snow, four days of giant slalom and four days of slalom each,” Cernigoj said. “It was quite a big span of skills and ages, from 2003 birth years all the way to C Team member Abi Jewett (Ripton, Vt.), who joined us for the beginning of the camp.” 

But that’s not all that was different about the second women’s development camp - what was most unique about the camp was that, apart from Cernigoj, the entire coaching staff was composed of women. One of the few female coaches on the FIS Ski World Cup circuit, women’s speed coach Karin Harjo made history when she became the first woman in World Cup history to set a slalom course. This year Katie Twible joins Harjo on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team coaching staff as an assistant coach for the women’s C Team. However, at the U16 level, Cernigoj realized there are many female coaches, and saw an opportunity to create something special for the June Mammoth camp. The results? “It was awesome,” beamed Cernigoj. “It worked so much better than even what I had envisioned or anticipated from the beginning.”

The concept all began at Athletic Summit while in Park City, Utah this spring, noted Cernigoj.  “We were planning this second camp of the season together with the U16s, which is the age group I’m not really used to coaching,” admitted Cernigoj. “When I was looking through the coaching staff who could help me out, I noticed that a lot of female coaches are coaching at the U16 level. So, that was kind of the first hint that I had to create this project. Then, at U.S. Ski & Snowboard Congress, there was a lot of talk about female empowerment in coaching and in sports and in general, so that made me realize this is what I needed to be doing to show these younger athletes that there are females on all levels of sports preparation. If you look through the eight female coaches that were here, they come from all sorts of backgrounds.” 

Mammoth Women’s Development Camp Coaching Staff:
Marjan Cernigoj – U.S. Alpine Ski Team, Head Women’s Development Coach
Katie Twible – U.S. Alpine Ski Team, Women’s C Team Assistant Coach
Brandy Barna – Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, ATC
Mary Joyce – Rowmark Ski Academy Coach
Katharina Golik – Mammoth Ski & Snowboard Team, Conditioning Coach
Kathy Okoniewski – Eastern Region Youth Development Coach
Lisa Perricone – Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Coach
Kristina Revello – Rocky/Central Region Development Coach
Lisa Segal – Park City, PSIA Examiner/Specialist 

Cernigoj said that this well-rounded staff, with expertise from the entire spectrum of coaching, gave the athletes a chance to see that opportunity exists at all levels - for both men and women. He added that having Twible join the crew for what was her first on-snow camp, was exceptional. “It was so awesome to have Katie on snow with us,” Cernigoj said. “She’s extremely knowledgeable. She helped on the snow, she helped the girls a lot with her knowledge of setting up the boots, so that’s definitely where her expertise came into this camp.”

Formerly a U16 coach at Craigleith Ski Club, and an elite ski racer herself, competing for the University of Colorado, Twible had never been a part of an all-female coaching group, but was blown away by how amazing the camp was. “Growing up I never really had female coaches myself...so it was really cool to be a part of that and be a part of a group of women who were all so different, with such different backgrounds,” Twible commented. “To be there and help build the next generation of U.S. Ski Team athletes was really rewarding.”

Newly-hired rocky/Central Region Development Coach Kristina Revello echoed Twible’s sentiments, “It was an incredible project; I look forward to creating more environments like this one in the future. The athletes made gains on snow and felt support from our staff in ways I think many of them never have before. It was a refreshing way for the staff to work with such a great group of young women!”

The camp was not only empowering for the athletes, but it was empowering for the staff, too. “The staff was exceptional, super positive, and worked really hard.” Twible continued. “Working together was so gratifying; everyone was really committed. These girls had questions and the coaching staff handled it super well. It was an open environment with no holding back. I think the girls learned so much from it. On and off the hill, we promoted that message of strength.”

The purpose for Twible’s involvement with the development camp was twofold: first, it was an opportunity to get her feet wet and get on snow for her first U.S. Ski & Snowboard camp, but second - and perhaps most important - Cernigoj’s goal was to bridge the gap between World Cup, Europa Cup and NorAm levels. The first step in doing so was involving Twible so she and Marjan could get to know each other, get their communications down and speak the same language - as they’ll be working closely together this winter. Since the alpine development program is project-based and Cernigoj and his men’s counterpart Sasha Rearick are often solo, integrating new coaching staff in with each project, Twible said it’s important for her to show more support and open communication with Cernigoj down to the D-Team level. 

Twible is beyond excited for the opportunity to work with the Team and feels she can learn a lot from fellow Europa Cup/NorAm coaches Magnus Andersson and Kris Shampeny in more of a support role. “Since I started coaching, I have only been a head coach and have only run teams, so I was excited to take this role because I think it’s actually a lot harder to be an assistant than a head coach,” she said. “I wanted to work with Magnus and Kris and get more experience, and I really wanted to work with this group of girls who have excelled, and help bring them a different dynamic. A lot of them haven’t had a female coach. In my role, I feel like it’s so much more than coach - it’s also sports psych, trainer, etc. I really like the strength and conditioning aspect, and I like a holistic approach. I told Magnus I can help with that and am super-invested in. I felt like I could really help fill in the gaps.”

Cernigoj feels positive about the progression the women’s alpine development program has made during the last 12 months, and believes that U.S. Ski & Snowboard is getting a bigger pool of athletes at a higher skill level from across the nation. Now one year in, he’s had the chance to meet almost every athlete from the 2003 birth year and up. 

“I thought we had quite a good first season last year with moving Keely Cashman (Strawberry, Calif.) up to B Team, and some other athletes skiing very strong,” reflected Cernigoj. “This year again I have five girls on the D-Team and then everything else is invitation-based. The experiences have been great, and the coaches that come to join us during these projects see that we are tackling a really, really big issue - all the way from the athletes just joining us at the FIS level with no points all the way up to the ladies that we have to help connect to our C Team. I believe this team has the biggest span of skills than any other team, so it’s challenging. The young athletes have many issues, from growth to conditioning to ski levels to growing up. It’s challenging.” A challenge that Cernigoj is tackling with passion and creativity. 

What’s next for the women’s development crew? Next up: Ushuaia, Argentina, where four D-Team athletes and four invitees will travel July 23rd for a three-week slalom, giant slalom and super-G camp.

 

Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season Coming to HBO This Fall

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
July, 15 2019
Lindsey Vonn on HBO Exclusive
Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season will debut on Tuesday, Nov. 26. (Getty Images - Christophe Pallot)

HBO announced Monday that Lindsey Vonn's (Vail, Colo.) documentary, entitled "Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season" will debut on Tuesday, Nov. 26 exclusively on HBO. The announcement was made by Peter Nelson, executive vice president, HBO Sports. 

Known as the most decorated female alpine skier of all time, Vonn intimately recounts her final season in this feature-length documentary, with a look back at her transcendent career, from child prodigy with humble beginnings at Buck Hill, Minn. to the Olympic champion and winningest female alpine ski racer. 

Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season traces Vonn’s exhilarating story from her childhood in Minnesota, all the way to the World Championships in Are, Sweden this past February, for what proved to be the epilogue of her fabled career, as she earned bronze in her final event. Teton Gravity Research, widely recognized as one of the premier documentary production companies in the outdoor action, adventure, and exploration space, had a camera crew embedded with Vonn throughout the winter months, capturing the final, intimate moments of her skiing journey.

“Lindsey Vonn is a global icon of transformative force,” said Peter Nelson. “No skier, woman or man, has ever exerted her influence in sport and culture — ever transcended to her stature. There are a lot of athlete documentaries today, but this film, at once heartbreaking and inspiring, takes us places unseen with an elite athlete like Lindsey, revealing the sacrifice demanded of a champion confronting her human limits to end an unparalleled career.”

Lindsey Vonn says, “I am thrilled to partner with HBO to give viewers an inside look into my career and to share my story with the world.”

The film will debut Tuesday, Nov. 26 10-11:30pm ET, exclusively on HBO and will also be available on HBO on Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and partners’ streaming platforms.

Read the full article on medium.com.

Shiffrin Doesn’t Skip Leg Day in LA

By Megan Harrod
July, 14 2019
Mikaela Shiffrin LA
Mikaela Shiffrin and Joel McHale presented the ESPY for Best Comeback to the St. Louis Blues. (Getty Images - Rich Fury)

After a productive and fun week in Los Angeles, Calif., Mikaela Shiffrin (Edwards, Colo.) has returned home to Colorado to finish her final strength and conditioning block before heading to the Southern Hemisphere - first Argentina, then Chile - to return to on-snow training. In case you were curious, busy schedule or not, she would never miss a leg day while in LA. 

Juggling a strenuous on and off snow schedule, Shiffrin - who was up for the Best Female Athlete ESPY Award in a stacked category that included soccer star Alex Morgan, gymnast Simon Biles and basketball player Breanne Stewart - has little time to devote to red carpet events. However, after being nominated in 2014 and 2018 in two categories each year - Best Female Athlete and Best Female U.S. Olympian, and again in 2019 for Best Female Athlete, Shiffrin has found the sweet spot in balancing a busy schedule featuring double sessions in the gym, sponsor obligations, media interviews and cover shoots, and more. Hearing all of that might make you tired - and it should, considering Shiffrin’s schedule is planned down to the minute. As an athlete first and foremost, it even includes precious time for refueling with snacks, rest and recovery. 

The week is not all fun and games, but it is both fun and extremely productive. On the outside, it may appear that it’s all rubbing shoulders with the brightest stars in sport and Hollywood both - sitting in between NFL stars Odell Beckham Jr. (aka “OBJ”) and Patrick Mahomes, presenting on stage with comedian/actor Joel McHale and first round NBA draft pick Zion Williamson, dancing with musician Ciara at the afterparty and hanging with the newly-minted world champion U.S. Women’s National Team before heading to LeBron James' Uninterrupted party to meet the king himself - but it’s much more than that. There’s still work to be done. And by “work,” we mean work in the gym, of course. While other attendees may not be in their strength and conditioning season and may be able to take a break for a day or two, Shiffrin knows you can’t take time off if you want to be the best in the world. 

Shiffrin in the gym
Shiffrin trains at Equinox in downtown Los Angeles, the morning of the ESPYS.

 

What does that mean, exactly? A double session on the day you walk the red carpet with a sponsor shoot in the middle during her smoothie break with U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s digital team, plus time allotted for hair, makeup, the final fitting with the stylist, media on the red carpet, a photo shoot in the green room for the 2019 ESPY Collection (a photo series dedicated to the greatest athletes and sports figures of our time), and preparation for presenting the Best Comeback ESPY to the St. Louis Blues NHL team with McHale onstage. Imagine that schedule for a moment. As Shiffrin's notoriety is building with each spectacular season - there's always more...more requests for her time, more autograph signings, more media, more sponsor obligations, more training on and off snow - every second counts. 

Shiffrin’s week in Los Angeles has evolved quite drastically since her first foray into red carpet-land in 2014 as a wide-eyed 19-year-old. In 2018, Shiffrin worked with a stylist for her red carpet look for the first time, and in 2019 she worked with Jasmine Caccamo, who also happens to style Morgan and fencing star Ibtihaj Muhammad, among others. 

“I remember when I went to the ESPYS the first time, after winning Olympic gold in Sochi (2014), I had no clue what I was doing,” Shiffrin said with a giggle in an exclusive behind-the-scenes piece with Glamour Magazine. “I had just turned 19, and I was wide-eyed and, well, basically the gif/emoji for awkward. I wore a simple black dress and bought a part of YSL strappy heels which I still use to this day, they are AMAZING. I even did my own hair and makeup. I live in Colorado in the mountains (not in a place like LA where it’s more common to work with stylists and get dressed up for big events), and with my race schedule, I don’t get to walk the red carpet often, so I quickly learned to take advantage of those opportunities when they arise.”

Working with a stylist who understands athletic bodies was important for Shiffrin. “Last year was the first year I worked with a stylist, at the ESPYS and Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sport Awards, and it was great. I feel like I’m at the point in my career now where media and sponsor opportunities are increasing more and more, and it is important to find and create my own unique style as I continue to build and refine my brand. Alex Morgan is a good example of an athlete peer who also works with a stylist, and I had been following her look and really liking it. That’s the main reason I was drawn to Jasmine, actually, because she knows how to style an athletic body and she, too, was an athlete.”

More goes into choosing a “look” for an athletic body than one may consider. “As an athlete, I’m very aware of my body type and what works/what does not work. Skiers have powerful quads, and I know that if the dress is too short, it won’t look great, like my quads will overtake the dress. Similarly, I’m also big on accentuating my shoulders in a feminine way. I have always derived a lot of inspiration from style magazines and Instagram...some styles I follow are Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Taylor Swift, Blake Lively, Karlie Kloss, (and I already mentioned Alex Morgan) etc. I love looks that are feminine and fresh, edgy in a classy way and not over-the-top - nothing forced (at least I hope not!). I make an effort to look natural but add a bit of uniqueness to the look at the same time. So, it was really important for me this year to build on the look I established last year on the red carpet, and - I was really happy with the final look.”

Coming off the best season of her career, breaking a new record almost every time she crossed the finish line - at a mere 24-years-old - Shiffrin was nominated for Best Female athlete for good reason. She had a record-setting 2019 season including 17 FIS Ski World Cup victories, four World Cup titles and three World Championship medals - two golds and one bronze - including becoming the only athlete in the history of ski racing to win four successive World Championship gold medals in a single discipline (slalom). This season, she established herself among the upper echelon of athletes as arguably the most dominant athlete in the world. 

An ESPY Award, short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award, is presented by ESPN to honor individual and team athletic achievement and other sports-related performance during the previous year. Winners are chosen through voting by fans and sports writers, broadcasters, sports executives and sportspersons. 

However, the night belonged to Morgan of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, who took home the award. With the ESPYS following close behind the U.S. Women’s National Team World Cup victory, the sports world was still buzzing at the 27th Annual ESPY Awards ceremony. Morgan and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team also won the Best Team Award after an unforgettable performance over the course of the last month of World Cup competition.

Critics of the Awards show took to social media, commenting that Shiffrin was “robbed," arguing that she didn’t just have the best performance for a female, but the best for any athlete - male or female. Many fans also said it was highly unlikely that Shiffrin’s 2019 season will ever be topped by another skier. Of course, the ever-humble Shiffrin acted with her usual class and sophistication, congratulating Morgan for the honor, noting the mere importance of the nomination for a skier in a non-Olympic year in the first place. 

“I wanted to take a moment, one more time, to reiterate how completely honored I am to have been recognized in the same category as such incredible/dominant athletes like Alex Morgan, Simone Biles and Breanna Stewart,” commented Shiffrin. “For the little sport of ski racing (we have some work to do!) to be represented in a non-Olympic year is truly an honor in and of itself. From double sessions in the gym to the red and orange carpets, media and photo/video shoots - it was a very productive and fun week.”

Mikaela Shiffrin LA

 

Mikaela in L.A.

Vonn Wins ESPY and Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
July, 12 2019
Lindsey Vonn Best Moment ESPY
Lindsey Vonn took home the "Best Moment" ESPY Award, along with sports legends Dwyane Wade and Rob Gronkowski - who both recently retired as well. (Getty Images - Kevin Winter)

It was a big week in Los Angeles featuring both the 2019 ESPY Awards and the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sport Awards on Wednesday and Thursday nights, respectively, and U.S. Ski & Snowboard alumna and winningest female alpine ski racer in history Lindsey Vonn (Vail, Colo.) took home the ESPY for Best Moment and the Nickelodeon "blimp" in the Need for Speed category. 

The ESPYS were hosted by former Saturday Night Live comedian Tracy Morgan at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Calif. The ESPYS Awards show highlights the most significant moments over the past year in athletics and attracts some of the top personalities in sports and entertainment. The event celebrates athletes overcoming challenges, breaking barriers and pushing their sports. 

Vonn didn't just have one moment, rather she capped off her career with 82 World Cup victories; eight World Championship medals, including two gold in downhill and super-G at the 2009 World Champs in Val d’Isere, France; three Olympic medals, including the downhill gold at the 2010 Games in Whistler, Canada; and a record 20 FIS Ski World Cup titles. 

The Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sport Awards were hosted by former NFL star Michael Strahan at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. The show, which honors athletes for their incredible work in the sports world over the last year, is a lighthearted, playful and fun show where kids and athletes get to hang out in a laid-back environment and enjoy entertainment by athletes and musicians both. This year, Vonn took home the Need for Speed award. 

After winning the Best Female Action Sports Athlete ESPY, U.S. Ski & Snowboard star Chloe Kim (Torrance, Calif.) backed that up with a Nickelodeon blimp for Famous Action Sports Star.

It was a big night, once again, for Co-Captain of the U.S. Women's National Team and two-time World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe received the Generation Change Award for 2019 at tonight’s ceremony. The award, presented by 13-year-old pro soccer player Olivia Moultrie, honors Megan’s passion to create positive changes, build social movements, and make sports and the world a more equal playing field when it comes gender, race and LGBTQ+ rights.

Make sure to catch the 2019 Kids’ Choice Sports awards on Aug. 10 at 8/7central on Nickelodeon to see Vonn and the "Team Slime Slammers" get slimed as two star-studded teams went head to head in the first-ever Kids' Choice Sports Championship - a mega-competition made up of sports-themed challenges.

 

Bjørnstad, Kruuser Rejoin U.S. Cross Country Team Staff

By Tom Horrocks
July, 12 2019
XC Staff

The U.S. Cross Country Team welcomes two familiar faces back to the support staff for the 2019-20 season. Per-Erik Bjørnstad and Karel Kruuser bring a wealth of technical ski preparation knowledge and skill to the team.

“We are very excited to have both these guys come back on with the team,” said U.S. Cross Country Team Head Coach Chris Grover. 

Bjørnstad, who lives in Norway, worked for U.S. Cross Country team during the 2006-07 season. Since then he has been a steady presence on the Norwegian service team, working for some big names, and teaching the younger techs the meaning of the post-World Cup race cool-down ski. 

Kruuser is from Estonia and assisted the U.S. team during the early part of the World Cup last season, specifically providing service for Rosie Brennan (Park City, Utah), and he has experience working with Estonian biathlon, cross country, and most recently with the SAS & TG Hütten Team FIS Marathon Team. 

Bjørnstad and Kruuser will begin working with the team prior to the opening event of the 2019-20 FIS Cross Country World Cup kickoff in Ruka, Finland, Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.