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The Pit: 07/08 FIS World Cup Season - Good, Bad & Ugly.

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mmqb
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Posted: May 21, 2008 - 11:22 PM GMT

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That Tom Kelly should make a much more public statement making it seem so very much about Bryon just makes me think that the USSA is reading all this and may be concerned that there is much more bubbling under the surface than just what is online here - and there is. Everyone is passing this site and Bryon and Eric's statements onto everyone they know. Just not everyone writes in.

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Posted: May 22, 2008 - 12:17 AM GMT

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. struthers , 5 hours ago | Reply
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Bryon
You're are obviously making a difference. I just heard that one of the athletes that had funding pulled just got a call from the USST and is now fully funded for next year. Great Job! Keep the ball rolling. One of my other concerns is that the cost of YSL licenses for our grass roots racers keeps going up and they receive little or no benefit. What portion of this money goes back to the athletes??? How much money is spent "identifying" 11-12 year olds? Aren't the Clubs and Divisions doing an adequate job of developing young athletes? The "pipeline" has a leak...and you are helping patch it!!!

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Posted: May 22, 2008 - 12:26 AM GMT

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COACHNICK , 1 hour ago | Reply
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Bryon, Please look to the Amateur Athletics Act of Congress. What you are encountering is NOT new to American ski racers. Marolt has used the system before and basked in the credit. Now it seems it's money, too. An independent audit of the books of U.S. Skiing might prove Far more revealing than anyone might suspect, going back into the late 8o's. It is a sad reflection on many who have worked and coached with honor and integrity for the U.S. Team as well as all of the Junior coaches who are paid reeally very little.. It has always been a privelege watching you grow up as a skier. X-coach Nick

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Posted: May 22, 2008 - 12:54 AM GMT
Edited: May 22, 2008 - 12:55 AM GMT

Too late to add women's ski jumping, official says

Hudec named Alberta's 2007 Athlete of the Year
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Posted: May 22, 2008 - 3:58 AM GMT

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Bryon
Congratulations once again.
You have put together comprehensive and well stated points. I can't agree with you more. As a non tech person I was unaware of this site until my son emailed me and said I might be "interestd in this"...
Being an ex ski racer in the 60's and put to pasture due to injuries at 20 I can honestly say that nothing has changed. However, naively, I pursued ski coaching for the past 35 years with the Park City Ski Team and the Snowbird Ski Team. Yes, I coached you as well as many other US
Ski Team athletes including Roxanne Toly, Tori Pillinger,Jeremy and Shannon Nobis, TJ Lanning, Justin Johnson, Steph Palmer,Ted Ligety,and Megan McJames. My passion and love for the sport has kept me involved but I have always felt guilty subjecting these athletes to the eventuality of the US Ski Team policies. Funding has always been the root problem for the US athletes. Some years the cutbacks have been at the Development level which makes no sense but more recently, it is at the upper levels as well. Injured athletes, in the past and present, have not been given the support or time to come back to previous form. The age and result criteria cannot apply to these senarios. Experienced World cup level athletes who are still capable of producing are an invaluble resource for the future of the team. They are leaders from which the younger members can learn valuable insights to competing on the world cup level as well as a mark for which to strive.
Funding needs to be specifically earmarked for athletes whatever dollar amount that may be. Injured athletes need a comprehensive program to return to their previous level and be given adequate time for that return. I realize that management is expensive but it is absurd that the ceo of a smaller sport make such an inordinate amount of money. The athletes need to be taken care of first and oh yes, coaches funding needs to be number two..coaching is an act of love at all levels but we need to spread the funding so athletes can ski and coaches can continue to coach . It is time for the board and management to put toghether some new athlete policies and redistribute adequate funding for it's athletes.
Good luck Bry..you are one of my best....

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Posted: May 22, 2008 - 6:23 AM GMT

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101. oldskicoach , 55 minutes ago | Reply
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Great insight, Bryon. It was interesting to read this article just a few days after returning form the USST "Pat On The Back" convention; more commonly refered to as the USSA National Congress. Listening to Bill and Jesse I thought that everything was hunky-dory. Thanks for giving us the other side of the story.

How long till ski racing goes the way of more successful sports such as golf, tennis and bike racing? These sports seem to have a handle on how to make money and be successful without having National Federations running the respective sports. Athletes are independently sponsored and are on their own regarding training and competing. Coaches and athletes pocket all the money, rather than the administrative sorts. Bode's move to Team America may have sounded the death knell for FIS ski racing as we know it.

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Posted: May 22, 2008 - 9:16 AM GMT

May 21, 2008 FIS News Flash Edition #180.
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Posted: May 22, 2008 - 8:01 PM GMT

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SRDUSA - GREAT plan! Please continue to work on it! That's the kind of positive idea that you hope can come out of this kind of web discussion, rather than just trashing USSA and convincing people not to contribute their MUCH NEEDED money. Listen to Bryon when he says his "goal is not to kick Marolt out. ... he has done a lot of great things for USSA. He has brought in a tremendous Board of Trustees, found a lot of private support, and changed the financial structure of the organization." I'm leery of these anonymous web discussions where everyone piles on a scapegoat, emotions rule the day, and nobody is accountable for their words.
SRD - Why not go ahead and start the first team, within the current structure? Evolutionary change is usually easier and better than a total revolution. If Bode can do it alone, surely someone can organize a team with a cadre of top racers AND developing racers, each of which would operate much like Bode did this season, representing their country, but not as a member of their national team. All you need is a CEO with the marketing and management skills to pull it all together. Bill Marolt might be available soon!
Seriously though, entrepreneurs wanted, to change the face of ski racing. Potential problems - What would be the incentive for a team to develop up and coming racers if they can just jump to a financially stronger team once they succeed? Hmm - that's the same problem the ski companies have now.
A few other thoughts I had:
- athletes who may or may not be passing their prime are dropped all time by successful pro sports teams. Sometimes another team has a different opinion and picks them up, sometimes they retire, sometimes they go to a minor league or foreign league. Sometimes the team is proven right, sometimes not. Examples: Johnny Damon, Carlton Fisk, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez. In ski racing, however, there are no other teams that can pick up racers like Bryon, or Eric Schlopy, or Caroline LaLive. Under the SRD plan, there would be other teams to pick them up.
- At some point, USST needs to release older or under-performing athletes in order to make room for new and developing talent. We can argue about when that point is reached, but they can't fund everyone. I think the team is doing a much better job in recent years, of keeping racers on the team long enough to allow their talent to develop. Like most of the "fans" writing in this forum, I'm way too far removed from the action to have any meaningful opinion on whether the team made good or bad decisions this year on whom to release and whom to promote. Of course Bryon feels he and his friends were released too early, and I wish them the best in their pursuit of independent sponsors to pursue their goals and prove the team wrong.
I too was dropped from the USST by Bill Marolt, too early in my opinion, in 1978. I've never been a fan of his, but let's try to keep some objectivity.
Bob Hill

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Posted: May 22, 2008 - 8:42 PM GMT

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Although the problems may not be as publicized with the European teams they still do exist and even in some of the traditional alpine power houses. I know for a fact that in Sweden and Norway the Ski Federations are asking for some financial help from some members of their teams. I am sure this problem does not exist across the board, like you Austria or perhaps Italy, but the funding issue is hitting home with the European teams as well. But I do agree that the prospect of "factory" teams is still a long way off. I personally hope that before it gets to that point there can be a resolution for the current funding crisis but I fear the only cure for the situation is for the athletes on the lower rungs of the ladder to help pay some of their costs. Has anyone here ever seen a line item budget for the USST or know where one can be found? I think that would tell part of the story as to where the money is going.
I think it is a little to easy to say that Bill Marolt's salary or the Center of Excellence is the whole problem.


Quote:
NEracer
Ski Racing Rocks

Re: SKI TEAM MEMBERS HAVE TO FUND THEMSELVES
Reply #96 - Today at 10:49am
'I fear the only cure for the situation is for the athletes on the lower rungs of the ladder to help pay some of their costs. '

I think it's silly that we can afford to pay Marolt 750K with a 300K bonus when CEO's of other similar size non-profits make around 150K on average. Why should we be able to pay him that much over the average when we can't afford 10K each for 3 or 4 athletes on each side of the Men's and Women's teams? This organization has lost it's purpose, and the administration is obviously overpaid while those in the trenches aren't being taken care of- the coaches and the athletes. The solution is not to overpay everyone at the top while the athletes suffer for their bloated salaries that are completely out of whack with reality and comparable positions.

'I think it is a little to easy to say that Bill Marolt's salary or the Center of Excellence is the whole problem.'

They are symptoms of the problem. The problem is an admistration whose salaries are more important than the ski team, a board who doesn't care to fix anything, and the programs they are supposed to be taking care of being neglected.

Other nations may have legit budgeting issues. That may require some of their athletes pay their way. It's hard to say in the USA that we can't afford the budget for our athletes when we are giving our administration bonuses that would more than cover the athlete's fees and expenses.

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Posted: May 23, 2008 - 7:25 AM GMT
Edited: May 23, 2008 - 9:15 AM GMT

Berthod calls it a career

Knauss to settle a lawsuit


Coaching moves abound
Eurosport - Thu, 22 May 23:10:00 2008


Pettigrew admits using HGH, EPO

TOURISM WATCH: Airlines in a tailspin

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As oil prices soar, some airlines are playing a 'last plane standing' game, waiting for better times and hoping that rivals go bust first. Others are raising fares and slashing routes. By James Moore

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Posted: May 23, 2008 - 6:53 PM GMT

More SMOKE @ The U.S. Ski Team, Fire Soon!
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Posted: May 23, 2008 - 9:17 PM GMT
Edited: May 24, 2008 - 3:01 PM GMT

Just days now: 46th International Ski Congress

Quote:
In light of the recent conflicts in Johannesburg: for those travelling through Johannesburg to Cape Town, no problems have been reported at the airport there. Caution is recommended for anyone who has planned to visit Johannesburg as a pre- or post-Congress tour, however, although no official travel alerts have been issued by governments according to FIS's knowledge. Please check with your consulate for up-to-date information.



Violence spreads across South Africa

2008 FIS Congress: An introduction

Beaver Creek/Vail Strong Bid for Worlds

WAR ZONE :
Quote:
"While South Africa may sound like an exciting place to visit," added Folz, "Cape Town will be a pretty stressful time for our group, with a lot at stake. The finish line is in sight and we need a strong stretch run."


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exciting place to visit

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Posted: May 24, 2008 - 3:11 PM GMT

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109. exVERA , 15 hours ago | Reply
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Byron, thanks for the insight into what appears to be a long-standing injustice! If you read the by-laws of Not-For-Profit Corporation Form in Article V [Voting], Paragraph II, Line II you will find that such issues can be voted on and acted upon accordingly. You will need to check the definition of team members as 'beneficiaries' or 'organization members' as this will decide the meeting role. It sounds to me like you have the support of many of your fellow teammates and overwhelming support from ex-teamers so I wish you the best and keep fighting- you'll see change with the right course of action!!!

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Posted: May 24, 2008 - 3:18 PM GMT

By Bryon Friedman

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JustGoEleven , 2 hours ago | Reply
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After reading that material, and assuming that the numbers cited are true, I couldn't help but wonder why would the board of directors allow such a disparity. When I examined the roaster of its active members, I concluded that a combination of carelessness, callousness and cowardice from that group might have allowed Marolt to get away with a disproportionate compensation for running USSA's and managing its less-than $40 million budget. There is no question that each board member should be confronted and given the chance to reflect upon the ways in which Bill Marolt's compensation package was approved. That exercise is required to bring the ski team policies into perspective and � if needed - usher the needed reforms.


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I concluded that a combination of carelessness, callousness and cowardice from that group might have allowed Marolt to get away with a disproportionate compensation for running USSA's and managing its less-than $40 million budget.

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Posted: May 24, 2008 - 3:25 PM GMT

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Violence in Johannesburg spreads to Cape Town, resulting in one death

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Posted: May 25, 2008 - 2:38 AM GMT

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111. Hilmcc , 3 hours ago | Reply
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Bryon your article was great. I was lucky to experience the ski team when there was more funding to be spread throughout the A,B and C teams but it has been such a bummer to hear about all the cuts over the years. I had lunch with Libby Ludlow today at Dartmouth and she was discussing how she was ready to retire due to keeping her body healthy and feels satisfied with all her her achievements throughout her 10 years on the team. But once again, she currently has world cup spots in GS, SG and DH. How many other American girls can claim that? Not many. The ski team was willing to support her but not fairly in my eyes.
Also I'm not sure if this has been brought up in the above comments and also might show my out-of-the-loopness in terms of the USSA endeavors but isn't there a massive complex being built in Kimball Junction or near Park City? If so, how much money are they sinking into it and what will be the reward? I remember hearing about it a few years ago and immediately came up with many other ideas that could probably be a better investment. What is the current situation on that?
Good luck and I hope that there will be changes.

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Posted: May 25, 2008 - 6:34 AM GMT

Marrying sport and culture
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Posted: May 25, 2008 - 8:44 AM GMT

Storm over Bill Marolt and the US Ski Team

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Go 11

Skiing with both skis pointing down, "schussing", life is too short to make trivial turns! It’s also taking the high road that runs the ridge; often the most challenging one. . Literally, going straight to the point, but always with total honesty, positive outlook and solid sense of humor... Whether you stumble upon this blog, or are invited to take a peek at it, don’t hesitate to jot down a comment. ©1987-2008 Go11


Quote:
There is no question that each board member should be confronted and given the chance to reflect upon the ways in which Bill Marolt’s compensation package was approved. That exercise is required to bring the ski team policies into perspective and – if needed - usher the needed reforms.

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Posted: May 25, 2008 - 7:32 PM GMT
Edited: May 25, 2008 - 8:29 PM GMT

No more downhill in Aspen

Lawsuit off-target,say Canadian ski jumpers

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Women ski jumpers sue Vancouver Olympics

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 21 (UPI) -- The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympics is being sued by a group of female ski jumpers, The Vancouver Province said Wednesday.

The newspaper said an unidentified former champion Canadian ski jumper, women from Europe and the United States are named in the suit, which was filed over the decision to exclude the event from the Winter Games in two years.

The suit alleges the exclusion of women's ski jumping from the 2010 Olympics is a violation of the women's rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the report said.

Deedee Corradini, president of Women's Ski Jumping USA and the former mayor of Salt Lake City, was scheduled to be in Vancouver Thursday for a news conference to support the suit, the Province said.


Ski Lessons 5 - We need to LEARN more.

USSA Lacking, in more ways than one?:
Quote:
In terms of coaches’ education, I find this to be lacking in the States. It appears from the USSA website that some sort of requirements are being “reviewed” for Nordic coaches, but I assume this will only touch people who want to be USSA coaches.

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Posted: May 25, 2008 - 8:47 PM GMT
Edited: May 25, 2008 - 9:04 PM GMT

www.EpicSki.com

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Damned shame. Seems that in the US CEO should stand for Certifiably Extremely Overpaid or Cheat Every One, since our CEOs earn more than in any other country even if the company is in the red and tanking.
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Bear with me. This is going to be long. A lot of pent-up frustration.

This is starting to get a lot of air-time in ski racing venues. Lots of chatter on ski-racing.com, for example. Not matter whether you are an athlete, a parent, a coach, or a fan, you're frustrated. The closer you are to the USST, the more frustrated you are. We have friends who are coaches, former coaches, athletes, dumped athletes, and oh-so close athletes, and they are all dismayed. A lot of talking going on.

The sad fact is that Bill Marolt has free reign to do whatever he pleases. The governance above him is a joke. He's really accountable to no-one. Do any of you know any trustees, or board members? The ones that I know are big money guys, investment guys, who fly to their homes at Deer Valley{or other similar low rent spots} in their private jets, and host cocktail parties with $1000 cabernet. They wouldn't know the difference between a SL and a DH ski if they were sitting on their floor. Positively clueless. These are also men who are incredibly busy, and the USST/USSA board committment has to be a fun, or recreational one. Some of these guys are venture guys who sit on a dozen corporate boards!! Being on this one is fun, and obviously there is no heavy lifting. They are messing with a lot of their own money on these other boards, and in some cases in touch with them on a weekly basis. There's a lot of pressure. This one's more like a badge of honor, or a club. That's all I can think of.

So Marolt spins "results" any way he wants. There are no stock analysts grilling him with tough questions, demanding real facts. Hey, we won TWO overall WC globes, and TED won the GS globe. Best in the world. High fives. Some of these trustees earn $20MM a year, so what's a lousy $300K bonus? Hell he's a CEO, all the CEO's we know make good money. A million bucks in nothing on "the street." We don't know about that non-profit stuff, as all we do is create profits. Hey, let's go take some runs in our cool USST stuff. I have an overwhelming sense that the majority of the board and trustees are way out of touch. This is a great deal for Bill, and franky for Jesse. No real oversight, do what they want, earn a bunch. And by the way, Bill, lose that stupid term, "the company, "

Meanwhile, this athlete funding requirement is absurd. When you reach the USST, after having spent a small fortune of your family's hard earned money, is the answer to pay? This is the USA, and this is a National team!! Without question there's enough gross revenue in "the company" to pay for the athletes. As many of you have mentioned, it's how "the company" is mismanaged. My opinion is that they should be able to raise more money, and have more gross revenue to work with. Then, their efficiency at putting that money to work only has to move from horrific to marginally average to make a change. By any measure, it's terrible. Has anybody looked at all of the blah-blah middle management jobs? How many really impact the ski team, or the athletes?

I swear that any competent manager could figure this out.

I was at US Nationals to witness the annual USST love-fest again this year, including the latest generation of young "chosen ones." It makes me want to puke. This system is not about the athletes, at all, other than the decade old mission to identify young talent and be all over them. Or to showcase the big names, and use them to drive in some revenue. Real clear. To see how well Bryon Friedman skied, having apparently been told that "If you win the DH, you stay. If not, you're off..." was both inspiring and sad. He's a class act, and a hell of a speed skier. And, oh by the way, he was coming back from a tough, tough injury. In no other business would "the company" treat the assets and key employees this way. Is this paying attention to the athletes?

It was equally sad to see some of the D team kids, skiing well, with a lot of potential ahead of them, knowing that they were gone as a result of not making C team criteria. So much for being a "chosen one" two years ago. Good luck clawing your way back. Nationals should be a fun event. They were for the 1990's, 1991's, and 1992's. The pressure on the older skiers, on the bubble, was more evident than I've ever seen. Even those at the top of their game were feeling the pressure on their friends. Sad.

And as many know, being a USST coach, for the most part "can't suck enough." They make no money, have no home life, and don't get a lot of thanks. It sure isn't the pinnacle of the profession. If "the company" had their act together, they might figure out a way to hire the best, pay them well, and keep them. They might actually think about a career path. How much longer does it function with these guys looking at this as paying their dues as a means to land a nice program director's job afterwards? I can't imagine that the staff is real energized for these Mammoth camps, they were all burned out a month ago. Maybe they recharge fast. I won't get into the changes, appointments, etc. From a coaching {and athlete} perspective, Jesse should probably move on. It seems like big change is needed. Again, solving the coaching riddle shouldn't be that hard, should it? I don't get the sense that "the company" feels that the coaches are among the most important employees. Shouldn't they be?v

I think we have some other interesting developments on the horizon that the USST is wrestling with, and perhaps not liking. At one end of the spectrum, evidently Hunter Schlepler may be declining the D team invite. Why not stick with the coach that helped him with his recent explosive development? He had an incredible year result-wise, and his basic skiing is equally impressive. If you had a kid of his age with his talent, and you knew that after the D team, you absolutely HAD to make C team criteria{and still pay for that}, wouldn't you stick with the proven deal and some continuity? Particularly SINCE YOU PAY YOUR WAY ON THE D TEAM. Maybe there's a better result for the same money{or less}. Why do we even have a D team, with the strength of all of the alpine racing programs in this country? It's not like the race starts are different, unless getting demoralized in the occasional Europa Cup is a bonus. He's the only D team nominee with a sibling on the team, so perhaps he, his dad and sister have looked at this with a different set of lenses. I find it interesting.

At the top end, Bode's Team America concept works. They'll be back in great shape. Rumor has it that Julia Mancuso has hired her own coach to manage her situation. I would suspect that the USST is doing everything possible to somehow make it work within "the company." We'll see. He knows his stuff. Ted Ligety spend a lot of the second half of the season training with Bode, from what I hear. I've heard some grumblings that he may want his own deal, and isn't delighted with the USST. There are some guys who have been let go who are by no means done with ski racing, and we'll see them surface in some interesting places, I'm sure. All of these athletes know each other, and the friendships have nothing to do with who's got the current team jacket. I swear that "the company" misses that. Seeing a former teammate treated like dirt, and knowing you could be next just has do be demoralizing.

I have helped fund athletes, all of whom have been screwed by the team at multiple times, and to varying degrees in their careers. I would encouage each skier in this country to give whatever they can in a way that matters the most. To me, it's not the USST. I'd like these skiers to have "100% dollars" to use.

This is not going to change quickly. It is only going to change when Marolt is removed from his job, or by some small miracle if the money available to the USST increased to a level where despite the horrific leadership and dreadful mismanagement, more resources could flow to the coaches and athletes. If Marolt were clued into this, and thinking soundly, he'd get some of the hitters to match his donating his $300K bonus back to the team. If he got 4 trustees, that would be $1.5MM. At $30K, that would fund 50 athletes. And at their current 50% efficiency, it would still fund
twenty five. It shouldn't be that hard!

And like many, I find the fact that the USST management, and for the most part coaching staff, looks down their noses at the NCAA to be both foolish and sad. The top half-dozen guys in the NCAA, if provided with the same training, logistics, technicians and skis{don't overlook those two} as the team guys might be kicking a lot of USST ass. But then again that might get people to question the business model of "the company." I thought that NCAA thing worked OK for this small "company" called the NFL!

Having all of these age requirements and hurdles is very interesting, when we see WC success at all ages. Some women at 16, some men at 38. I don't know if the other ski federations have similar criteria. I don't understand how a 26 year old with three world rankings in the 70-80 range is a poorer "investment" than the 23 year old with two 135's? Particularly if the older guy is more consistent, and is getting faster by an incrementally wider margin. Very strange. It sure weeds out the NCAA kids.

The NCAA is now so competitive that most boys {and more girls} take a year to ski full time {or two...} before college. The average age of the men at this year's NCAA championships was 23. These are among the most competitive fields in the country. There's potential there, and potential that the USST/USSA only minimally has to fund. But if you're 25 when you graduate....B team criteria or out. That 25 year old, with all of the advantages of the USST and the maturity and focus, could move from a 135 WR to a 35 in three years. but he may not go to a 52 WR in one year. I don't get it.

It seems to me that the only reason that we even have a D team, and a D team staff, and budget, is to name and coach the upcoming US Jr. Worlds team. Obviously Hunt and Marolt put a lot of resources into Jr. Worlds. Maybe I'd shift those resources elsewhere, and let the dozens of top notch programs, independent programs, PG programs, and NCAA programs do some of the development. All of those people are going to fill the fields at all of the same NorAMs and FIS races. Is the D team turning out better skiers? Did Tommy Ford have his recent year because of the D team....dunno. But D team and Jr. Worlds are part of "the company" culture and mission. I don't sense that anybody on the inside is questioning whether we need it. If you dumped it, could you have a bigger and fully funded C team?

And when Zamansky makes that B team criteria, but is cut loose anyways? I don't know anything about the situation. But if the USST is all about their great criteria, how do they blow it off for him? Perhaps it's because he's been a "chosen one" for a long time, and he's plateaued with a world GS ranking in the 50's? The guy has earned a WC start through NorAms! I just don't get it. Seems like neither "way" works!

Notice that I didn't even mention "the center." Don't get me going on that!

Like the ski industry, and the sport don't have enough challenges!!

Crazy. Think about how to influence some change. We sure need it.
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Wednesday July 23, 2014
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