IceMen Deer Valley

As a competitor, the Visa Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort was always a thrilling but incredibly busy week. The venue is the best on the circuit and the accommodations, the food and the crowd are unsurpassed. However, the pressure of back to back competitions on home soil was usually exasperated by media obligations and a family member or two, or ten, in attendance. This year represented just my second year as a spectator, in contrast to the 21 times I competed on Deer Valley’s Champion course, which doesn’t even include the time I got to forerun the 2002 Olympics as a high school sophomore. I assumed that, as a retired athlete, the World Cup weekend would be far less eventful. I was wrong!

This year I participated in USSA’s Ice Men weekend and I had a blast! It was a ski weekend done right. By donating generously to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation, approximately 20 gentlemen got to ski, drink, eat and learn all weekend long. I met up with the gang at 9 a.m. sharp on Friday morning so that we could get on the first chair. I took a group interested in earning their lunch by burning calories in the bumps. It was wonderful to meet a group of men who have been supporting the Team for years. It was my chance to say thank you for the funding that allowed me to achieve my athletic goals and pursue perfection in the moguls, which I’m sad to report may not be possible! In junction with the Gold Pass program, the funds from the Ice Men weekend support the athletes by providing them with coaches, physical therapists, strength trainers, sports psychologists, nutritionists and a sport science staff. Basically, the athletes’ army is funded by individual donations. I know that I took advantage of all the USSA resources that I could while I was training to be the best mogul skier I could. The support is critical and I am grateful. During a magnificent lunch of fondue and Weiner schnitzel, we were all treated to an inspiring presentation about what goes on behind the scene to produce champion athletes and Olympic medals. Think Cirque de Soleil partnerships, ski simulation machines, data mining, and virtual reality.

Hopefully I’ve enticed you to get involved. Do you like to ski? Would you like to ski with some former Olympians while supporting future Olympians and being treated to spectacular meals, endless vertical and free flowing wine during the most exciting freestyle world cup of the season? If so, Ice Men might be the perfect fit for you. See you out there next year, while athletes battle for the right to represent the United States at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in February. Your support means the most during the critical prep period, before Team USA takes on the world! Thank you.

Hannah Kearney

 

 

Kaylin Richardson Kicks off the Ski Season!

Early Season Excitement!

There are few things in life that give me the butterflies in the stomach like the first day of the ski season does.  It doesn’t matter if the conditions are fantastic or abysmal. Regardless of snow pack or sunshine, I prefer to be on a mountain; it is my happy place. I realize it makes me come off as a bit of a Pollyanna, but I truly am grateful for every day I am out there. Since I was a little girl, that giddy feeling has not subsided, especially when I make those first turns.

The greatest thing about this season is that I am going to be getting that feeling all winter long, every time I click my skis on at a new resort. Which, lucky for me, will be many! With the Gold Pass, I have access to 250 resorts all over the country. I literally could ski at a different ski area every day this season and still have 100 more to go – that’s mind blowing! It is the ultimate playground pass, gaining access to thousands upon thousands of skiable acres.

The beginning of the season also makes me nostalgic for all the turns I’ve made in the past, from the charming ski areas of the Midwest where I grew up, to the winding trails of the East where I raced my first NorAms, to the powdered peaks of the West where I discovered the magic of big mountain skiing. Each region has its strengths that sets it apart and I love the different terrain, ambience and quirks that make them so special.

There’s so much to explore and revisit this season. I plan to straight-line the super steep Chicken run and then reward myself with a Swiss Miss pudding at Welch Village (a rite of passage if ever there was one for Twin Cities-based ski racers). I aim to link together GS turns all the way down Hayride race arena at Stowe without stopping (a feat that will take Ligety-esque prowess). I look forward to first tracks in Honeycomb Canyon at Solitude after a big storm, hooting and hollering the entire way down, of course! All this is possible because of my Gold Pass.

I was at opening day at Deer Valley this past weekend and made those first turns. I fell in love all over again with carving arcs down the luxurious corduroy of Birdseye run. And this is just the beginning.

See you on the slopes!

-Kaylin 

Olympic Champion Hannah Kearney Transitions to Fan!

I just spent the weekend in Colorado at Beaver Creek and it was incredible, even though I did not ski! The memory of dragging my over-packed ski bag through airport check-in mazes still haunts me, so I made my way from Utah to Colorado with a minimal amount of luggage. I came to Beaver Creek to help launch the Marolt Athlete Endowment, a campaign that will help bridge the funding gap and allow the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to maintain an elite coaching staff throughout the Olympic cycle, support development athletes who are the future of the U.S. Ski Team and fund the educational endeavors of current and alumni athletes. 

I told my story about balancing high school, and then Dartmouth, at opposite ends of my 13 years on the U.S. Ski Team. The audience was full of trustees who helped make my time on the U.S. Ski Team both rewarding and successful. These same people and this endowment will ensure I am able to graduate from college without student loans and for that I will forever be grateful. 

Funding is always an issue in a sport as expensive as skiing. The money from the Gold Pass program goes directly to athletic initiatives that help athletes pursue their dreams and achieve their goals. It was fun to reminisce about my time on the competition circuit when I gathered with my fellow New Englanders at the base of Killington to support the athletes in the FIS Women’s Alpine World Cup over the Thanksgiving weekend.  How fast the transition from athlete to fan can be!

Now I am really itching to ski. This has been the longest break I’ve had from skiing since I was a teenager. Someday, I will return to this grand mountain they call Beaver Creek and I will be armed with all of the proper equipment, including a shiny Gold Pass.  In the meantime, the Gold Pass will allow me to explore all of the mountains in my very own backyard. It really is the best ski pass that has ever existed.

Gold Pass Members Chat with Bode Miller!

The Gold Pass program doesn't just give you access to over 250 resorts across the country, but you also get access to the athletes of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing. Current members of the Gold Pass program had the opportunity to chat with World and Olympic medalists Bode Miller. 

Bode chatted with Gold Pass members to discuss what he has been doing off the slopes, coming back from injury, how to get mentally ready for a race and what his future plans are for ski racing. If you missed the call with Bode click on the link below to see what he had to say. 

Click here to listen to the call. 

Thank you for your continued support of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing. Because of your support our athletes have the opportunity to follow their dreams! 

Olympic Champion Kaitlyn Farrington Continues the Gold Pass Tour!

#Klassyadventures

This season has brought me more joy than ever so far! Last season I was like a lost puppy dog not knowing what I was doing or really where I belonged. This Gold Pass Tour has made me realize the community that I have been apart of since the beginning.

The next stop on tour was Tahoe to hit Squaw Valley for the POW (Protect Our Winters) athlete summit. I got into Tahoe mid-day and, instead of sitting in my hotel room waiting for the rest of the athletes to arrive, I decided to take my Gold Pass and do a half day solo shred, just because I could! My first gondola ride, I met a couple that seemed to know the mountain. Since I had never been to Squaw, I asked them where I should go. Turns out they weren’t really big snowboarding fans. First, they told me to go somewhere that wasn’t even open. Then I heard them whispering to each other about where they were going to go. They must have thought I had music in. Naturally, when I got off the gondola, I followed them and they unknowingly took me down a great powder field! At the bottom they had stopped and I rode by yelling “Thanks for the epic run!”

I wasn't out in Tahoe for only fun and games. I was there to get involved and be a voice for climate change through Protect Our Winters. POW brought us all to together to have meetings and become more informed about what we can do as public figures to raise awareness about how fast our climate is changing and the issue at hand. Our days were jammed packed. We would start with dawn patrol at Squaw at 8 a.m., get a couple hours on the mountain to burn off all our energy and then followed that up with afternoons of discussions. POW brought in some amazing scientists and story tellers to bring us up to speed. It was two days jam packed with information! At the end of the summit, I was reminded of why I started working with POW four years ago. You can learn more about and support POW at protectourwinters.org. Group shoot by: Chris Wellihaunsen

My next stop on the #GoldPass tour was Steamboat, CO. I also celebrated my 26th birthday! It’s amazing what I’ve gone through in the past year and I’m very happy with where I’ve ended up.

I really enjoyed spending time in Steamboat because a few of my greatest friends are from there. Maddy Schaffrick and Matt Ladley were kind enough to show me around their home resort, which was officially resort number four on my #GoldPass tour. After a day of fun freeriding, it was down to the T-Bar to continue the birthday celebration with a little hammerschlagen!

The Steamboat party continued the next day, mobbing the mountain with a group of 12 of us. I got stopped by slow patrol at one point in the day just because we had such a big group tearing up the mountain, and when I took out my #GoldPass the guy literally didn't know what to do. He looked at it and said “just tell your friends to slow down!” The Steamboat adventure ended with an annual Ugly Sweater Party that my friends Natalie and Chappy Geer put on every year! I couldn't have asked for a better birthday weekend. 

Follow Olympic Champion Kaitlyn Farrington on her Gold Pass Adventures!

#KlassyAdventures

Going into this season I honestly had no idea what I was going to do… but with help of USSA and the #GoldPass I quickly figured it out! I decided I would travel around the West Coast to the 104 resorts that the #GoldPass gives me access to. In the beginning, I thought, “Oh yeah easy, I'll just hit a new resort almost everyday.” Its now the beginning of January and I've made it to nine resorts…

KaitlynGoldPass.jpg

It all started in Breckenridge, Colorado for the Winter Dew Tour! The day I rode Breckenridge was pretty overwhelming…seemed everywhere I looked/went I saw someone I knew. But that's why I went to Breckenridge because I wanted to see all my friends from my competitive days! This is only my second season not being in contest and I MISS it! Since I was 17, I went out to Breckenridge in the beginning of December to start my season, mainly due to them having one of the best halfpipe and parks around. This year, I went to be the “cheerleader”, so I just got to take hot laps with some friends! Here’s just some of the people I ran into at Breckenridge Mountain Resort!
 

After a great reunion in Breckenridge, it was off to Loveland Resort to teach/ride with Andrea Boehlke for a Continental Tire web series, called “For What You Do”. It turned out to be such an awesome day, with six inches of new snow and a new mountain. On top of that Andrea knew how to ski so we were able to just go riding together! Although the mountain was not yet entirely open, it's a resort on my tour I cant wait to go back to and explore. This ‘ma and pa’ resort looks like it has so much to offer in its terrain, mainly because it's a hidden gem with absolutely no lift lines and it didn't get tracked out instantly like most resorts do on a powder day!

Click here to follow Kaitlyn on more #KlassyAdventures !

You've got mail!

The snow is falling and the resorts are prepping to open for the season. We have been hard at work at the USSA offices getting everyone’s passes ready and in the mail. On behalf of the athletes and their families, we want to let you know how much your support means to them. The Gold Pass program has a direct impact on an athlete’s journey to the podium and it is because of you they can follow their dreams.  

Thanks to Jim & Carol Gildea, two of our Gold Pass holders and parents of U.S. Ski Team Member Eddie Gildea, for sharing their experience with the program.

“The support the U.S. Ski Team has given our son Eddie has been nothing short of phenomenal. To be able to give back to the U.S. Ski Team and get the Gold Pass with access to over 250 resorts is an opportunity we couldn't resist. Meeting the parents of the other U.S. Ski Team athletes and seeing what the team has meant to their families really makes you appreciate all the hard work by the USSA coaches, trainers, and management." – Jim & Carol Gildea

We look forward to seeing you on the slopes this winter! We would love to hear about your experiences with your Gold Pass. Please share your experiences and photos with your local Major Gifts Officer.

 Go USA!

 

Gold Pass Phone Call with Olympic Champion Mikaela Shiffrin!

We are excited to invite all current Gold Pass holders to join Olympic Champion Mikaela Shiffrin and the President and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Tiger Shaw for a phone call on Monday, September 28 at 12 pm MST.

Mikaela will be taking time out of her busy training schedule to chat and answer questions with all current Gold Pass members about her preparations for the upcoming 2015-16 competition season. Tiger Shaw will be available to answer questions regarding the direction and goals of the organization.

This opportunity is exclusive only for Gold Pass holders and we look forward to catching up with all of you as you are a crucial and integral part of USSA. Because of your support athletes are provide the opportunities, skills and tools necessary to accomplish their dreams.

Thank you for your continued support of U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing!

Behind the Gold Pass

Picture courtesy of NSAA.

Picture courtesy of NSAA.

The Gold Pass is the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation's largest annual fundraising program, raising close to $4 million dollars each year towards athletic programing. It is an incredible program that allows donors to support the team and ski the slopes all winter long. This program would not be possible without our partnership with the National Ski Area's Association. The National Ski Area's Association (NSAA) is the trade association for ski area owners and operators. It represents 324 alpine resorts that account for more than 90 percent of skier and snowboarder visits nationwide. Additionally, it has 472 supplier members who provide equipment, goods and services to the mountain resort industry.    

So how does this impact the Gold Pass Program? In simple terms, NSAA is the glue that keeps us all together. They forge partnerships on behalf of the USSA with each of the 250 resorts who support the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation's Gold Pass Program. It is through these partnerships that the Gold Pass program and the funding for our athletes becomes a reality. 

This past week NSAA hosted their annual trade show and convention in San Francisco. Talk about a bunch of snow, ski and gear loving mountain people coming together for three days! The USSA was fortunate to have a booth during the show and had Mikaela Shiffrin, our Gold Pass Girl, and Ted Ligety join us there. Mikaela even opened up the convention with a key note addressing the industry. 

Mikaela Shiffrin, TIger Shaw, Andy Clurman & TEd LIgety (photo Courtesy - Tom Kelly) 

Mikaela Shiffrin, TIger Shaw, Andy Clurman & TEd LIgety (photo Courtesy - Tom Kelly) 

At our booth, the USSA made a rather large announcement; the Team has entered into an agreement with NASTAR to raise the profile of ski racing. Under this agreement,  the U.S. Ski Team will assume operational control of NASTAR. This integration with NASTAR is designed to capitalize on the global success of U.S. Ski Team athletes, bringing greater awareness to the sport and value to the industry, while motivating participants of all ages to get involved in ski racing. Olympic Champion, "NASTAR is where most ski racer in America, including myself, were introduced to the thrill of going fast and competing on skis, by challenging our friends and family on the course, said Olympic Champion Ted Ligety, who was in San Francisco to participate in the announcement. 

Gold Pass, NASTAR, San Francisco...it was an exciting week to be involved in the organization. Stay tuned throughout the year for more Gold Pass updates! 

2015-2016 Gold Pass Renewals Have Begun!

Dear Supporters,

I hope that you will once again consider taking part in the Gold Pass program for the upcoming 2015 -16 season. Your support of the Gold Pass program directly funds USSA athletes and enables them to train and compete at the highest level. It is because of your support that USSA athletes had one of the best seasons in history. Some of the season's biggest moments included: 

•    Ted Ligety’s continuous giant slalom domination

•    Mikaela Shiffrin’s second consecutive World Championship slalom win 

•    Jessie Diggins and Caitlin Gregg’s historic World Champ medals

•    Kelly Clark’s eighth win at the Burton U.S. Open 

•     Overall World Cup titles for aerialists Mac Bohonnon and Kiley McKinnon 

•     Best in the World performances at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix

The road to PyeongChang 2018 has already begun. For the athletes of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboard and U.S. Freeskiing, the Olympics aren’t every four years but every day. Each day our skiing and snowboard athletes are training harder and pushing themselves further all in an effort to reach the podium. Please help us ensure the athletes have the best resources available as they prepare for the 2015-16 season and PyeongChang 2018. 

Early season renewal of the 2015-16 Gold Pass has begun! If you would like to reserve your Gold Pass today, please click on 'Reserve Your Gold Pass'. This season we are excited to announce new perks for Gold Pass members including our dedicated website, insider access to our current athletes and exclusive ski outings with our alumni ambassadors. Be sure to renew your Gold Pass to be part of this exclusive club and enjoy the benefit of all access direct to lift at 250 resorts across the country. 

On behalf of USSA athletes, thank you for your interest in the Gold Pass program and hope that you will consider supporting our athletes! 

Sincerely, 

Tiger Shaw 

President and CEO                                                                                                                              

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association