Pipelines have been a cornerstone in Alpine program design for over a decade, with the ultimate destination being a member of the U.S. Ski Team. During that time, pipelines were developed to illustrate how an athlete moves through the U.S. Ski & Snowboard competition system, and who is primarily responsible for the development of athletes at those different stages (clubs, divisions, U.S. Ski & Snowboard).
The alpine pipeline is intended to define the pace of development, to lead program design both at the club and national level, and to educate stakeholders such as parents and athletes about program design at the local level, through the national team.
Athlete Pipeline Philosophy And Implementation
- Win at every level of international competition.
- Design a clear path for achievement in the sport of alpine ski racing.
- Raise the level of achievement in our sport by doing a better job with content, and racer management.
- Encourage multi-discipline athlete development opportunities.
- Integrate the country into one system by empowering academies, clubs, programs and regions to develop athletes.
- Identify the talented coaches and athletes in the country, develop and retain them.
- Create an American system that provides sustained success in the sport of alpine ski racing.
The U.S. Ski Team is the sport's national team, consisting of A, B and C teams nominated annually. The objective of the U.S. Ski Team is to field teams that are capable of national and international success. This success is measured by winning at the Olympic, World Championship, World Cup, World Junior Championship, Europa Cup and NorAm Cup events.
The Development Team or "D Team" operates under the guidance of the U.S. Ski Team, representing the pinnacle of the junior development pipeline. Like the A, B and C teams, the D team is also nominated annually. The purpose of the Development Team is to field a team that is best in the world at the junior level.
The National Training Groups (U16 NTG; W FIS NTG; M FIS NTG) support the development of top regional junior athletes by bringing them together from across the country to train and compete as a team.
Each NTG is a self-contained group, led by a head coach with the support of an assistant coach and physical trainer. Based out of the Center of Excellence in Park City, the NTG athletes have full use of the athletic and rehabilitative facilities available to National Team athletes. The groups work collaboratively with each other, as well as with clubs, academies and regional and national teams as deemed athletically appropriate.
Selection to the NTGs is made according to criteria published annually, and posted to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard website in October, as are the NTG athletes named to the teams.
The transition to participation in an NTG represents a partnership between U.S. Ski & Snowboard and the athlete’s local club. It is handled with high levels of communication and transparency, recognizing that the best interests of the athletes are always of paramount importance.
Full-time participation is preferable to part-time, because it minimizes travel/transfer, is more consistent, and provides a better athletic environment because of peer group consistency. This is especially true of the FIS group.
The National Performance Series (NPS) is a cornerstone of the national development system. The NPS brings a broad group of the best young athletes together at multiple times during the season for high-quality head-to-head training and racing to stimulate their progress toward elite-level international competition and qualification for the U.S. Ski Team.