» Stories Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:52:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Eastern Region rolls out full-time regional training group Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:31:34 +0000 Jessica Kelley The Eastern Region is tapping into uncharted territory. After getting the green light from USSA, the region has started a full-time athletic regional team that will operate like the National Training Group (NTG), only regionally. The group will consist of three post-graduate girls for the inaugural season, with Mike Kenney serving as head coach. Kenney most recently worked with the men’s multi-team of the U.S. Ski Team, which primarily served Ted Ligety and Kenney’s nephew, Bode Miller.

The move is the first of its kind for the U.S. and Eastern Region Development Director, Eric Harlow, believes this is the move of the future for development in the U.S.

“The regional training team will keep more kids in USSA pipeline, but will keep them closer to home (as opposed to NTG). It will allow for athletes to train within their peer groups without having to move thousands of miles away,” said Harlow. “The NTG team has been really successful so we drew it up on that success, but regionally.”

Martin Guyer, Eastern Regional development coach, will act as an athletic director of sorts to oversee the project. Guyer will work to find ways to integrate the group with the rest of the region and use them for pace and competition with their peers. With Kenney coaching the program, the team will use Franconia Ski Club as a home base, but will have the flexibility to train elsewhere if needed.

“There is a real desire to advance and achieve. Pushing each other to new levels of performance in a competitive, focused environment and being part of a team is powerful,” said Guyer. “It can also provide peer group pace and mentoring for our next tier of project-based athletes when we expand the athlete roster for regional or national projects.”

According to Harlow, the idea arose from the athletes themselves who felt the need for more regional support in the form of a team. For this season the group will remain small and will only serve one gender — women (in contrast to the pilot USST National University Team which only includes men in its inaugural season). The three athletes who were chosen — and who accepted their nominations — through criteria approved both by the Eastern Region and USSA are Madison Lord (Burke Mountain Academy/Franconia Ski Club), Cecily Decker (NYSEF/NTG), and Anna Foley (Waterville Valley BBTS). Decker was a member of the NTG last season and was re-selected for the 2015-16 season, but declined in favor of the regional team in order to stay closer to home.

The NTG collects the best juniors in the country and strongly advises them to relocate to Park City, go to school and train at the Center of Excellence and on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort, regardless of their home state. For athletes from across the country, the prospect of a regional team may prove to be very enticing. It is something that has been thrown around throughout the region and USSA for years, but never caught traction — until now.

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“We want teams to stay connected to the region and go up through regional competition so these athletes will stay connected to the region. They will compete in NorAms, but still all the high level races in the Eastern Region,” said Harlow.

The team will copy the model of the NTG by providing conditioning camps, summer and fall training camps, and coaching and training at all times. The funding will be provided by the athletes during the first season. As the program moves forward year to year, more athletes being named to the team will lower the cost per athlete.

“We weren’t sure what kind of support we would get from USSA … for us it was critical to show that this was an initiative that USSA supported,” admitted Harlow. “They have been great and supportive and hopefully this can serve as a blueprint for other regional teams moving forward.”

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Tips for watching ski racing videos this summer Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:19:44 +0000 Jim Taylor Watching videos of yourself and World Cup racers is a valuable tool for improving technique and tactics, getting inspired, and increasing motivation, confidence, and focus. If you’re like most racers, you use it a lot during the winter as part of your training. Video enables you to more clearly understand and see what you need to work on and you can learn a great deal by seeing fast skiing demonstrated by your favorite World Cuppers. Video is also a form of mental imagery that can help you generate the image and feeling of skiing your best.

The use of video tends to decline during the summer when racers are focused on other activities, but it should actually increase for the very same reason. Why? Because you aren’t on snow as much or at all which means you can lose the feeling of fast skiing. Video can keep you mentally sharp and allow you to develop your ski racing skills when you’re not on snow.

But just watching video isn’t going to maximize its benefits during the off-season. Instead, you can use video in specific ways to help you gain the most benefits.

Common Mistakes

If you’re like most ski racers, you are probably not watching video in the most effective way. For example, there is a tendency among racers and coaches alike to focus on mistakes. This emphasis seems to make sense because if you watch your mistakes, you can learn from and correct them. But watching only mistakes ingrains a negative image and feeling into your mind and body much like physically practicing bad technique or tactics will instill bad skiing into your mind and muscles.

You may also focus too much on the details of the video, for example stance or hand position. Video is used mostly for analysis, so it’s easy to obsess about every little detail rather than absorbing the whole image. Just like with actual skiing, if you focus too much on the minutiae, you lose sight of just skiing fast.

Watching World Cup videos is fun and motivating. I’m sure you have your favorite athletes and you like to watch and fantasize about skiing like them one day. But watching too of them and not enough of yourself may cause you to imagine yourself skiing like one of them rather than the way you ski. That sounds good in theory, but the reality is that you can’t ski like the top guys and gals (at least not yet!).

You may also watch World Cuppers that you have no chance of emulating because they are so physically different from you. For example, if you’re tall and thin, you shouldn’t imagine yourself skiing like Marcel Hirscher (who is short and stocky) or Lara Gut (who is rather petite).

Rules of Video Watching

When you watch video follow these rules:

  • Take in the whole image rather than paying too much attention to details. Allow the overall image of good skiing sink into your mind rather than getting obsessed with every little detail.
  • Though you learn about what you need to work on by watching your mistakes, I recommend watching at least 75 percent “highlight” videos of yourself skiing well.
  • To maximize the benefits of watching World Cup footage, identify racers who are physically and technically similar to you so you can more easily incorporate their technique into your style.
  • Rather than imagining yourself skiing like your favorite World Cuppers, take what they do so well technically and tactically and incorporate those into your own skiing.

Video as Mental Imagery

As you may know, I’m a huge believer in the power of mental imagery. And video, though not often thought of this way, is a powerful type of mental imagery. You can incorporate mental imagery into your use of video by including it in your video sessions. Here’s how:

  • Watch a run of yourself on video and identify what you did well and where you need to improve.
  • Immediately close your eyes and see and feel yourself skiing just the way you want. Ingrain the positive images and feelings from the video into your imagery.
  • If you made mistakes in your video run, “rewind and edit” the video in your mind’s eye by redoing the videoed run and making the necessary corrections.

I encourage you to commit to a consistent program of video (and mental imagery) this summer. If you do, I can assure you that you will be better prepared both mentally and physically to ski your fastest and achieve your ski racing goals come winter.

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Blizzard/Tecnica USA announces new promotional team Sun, 26 Jul 2015 18:52:33 +0000 SR Staff WEST LEBANON, N.H. – Blizzard/Tecnica has revamped and strengthened its U.S.-based promotional team with newly-appointed positions – two managers and three promotional coordinators – to support the pro, freeride and race communities.  This new approach will allow the Blizzard/Tecnica team to be more focused and effective in addressing the needs of athletes throughout the country. Collectively the new promotional team brings over 50 years of first-hand experience from World Cup racing and freeride competitions to product development.

“This is a great opportunity for Blizzard/Tecnica to continue to build brand awareness and support in the pro, freeride and race communities.  This new Promotional Team has years of expertise on and off the hill and is committed to supporting up-and-coming athletes and pros reach their personal goals with performance driven product from Blizzard/Tecnica,“ commented Jed Duke, director of product marketing.

Bart Tuttle

Bart Tuttle

The new positions include:

  • Frank Shine, the Blizzard/Tecnica brand creative manager, will also manage the freeride team. As the brand creative manager, Shine spends much of his time working with this team of athletes documenting their travels and adventures. This will allow him to connect and manage these athletes in all aspects and bring the freeride team presence to the next level. Shine will supported by a team of three regional promotions coordinators.
  • Bart Tuttle, the Tecnica product development manager, will take on the added responsibility of race program manager. Tuttle is a former U.S. Ski Team member and former top college racer with years of experience servicing athletes on the World Cup circuit. His long-time connections and understanding of racing ensure that support of this community will be unparalleled. Tuttle has been instrumental in the development of numerous Tecnica ski boot collections, including the race collection, and is known worldwide for his boot fitting skills. Tuttle will be supported by a team of three regional promotions coordinators.
  • Steve Brown, in addition to his continuing role of New England promotions coordinator supporting Tuttle on the race circuit, will now lead and develop the pro communities as the national pro program coordinator. Brown comes from a racing background and has a passion for all things skiing.
  • Joe Sipe, new to the Blizzard/Tecnica team, has been hired as the Western promotions coordinator where he will focus his efforts on servicing the pro, freeride, and race communities of Utah, Colorado and other Western states. Sipe most recently worked as the lead ski service tech at Podium Sports, a high-level service shop in Park City, Utah, and as a backcountry ski guide in the Wasatch Mountains. He will start on Aug. 24 and will be located in Park City, Utah.
  • Tom Sipe, veteran to the Blizzard/Tecnica family and father of Joe (above) and Pat Sipe, an independent sales rep in the Midwest for Blizzard/Tecnica, continues as Minnesota promotions coordinator and rounds out the strong promotions team. T. Sipe has been a part of the Blizzard/Tecnica family for over 30 years and will continue to support up-and-coming athletes in Minnesota.

The Blizzard/Tecnica promotional team will work under the direction of Duke. All positions, unless otherwise noted, are effective immediately.

Release courtesy of Blizzard/Tecnica USA

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VIDEO: Aksel Lund Svindal on the importance of freeskiing Sat, 25 Jul 2015 17:48:25 +0000 SR Staff An oldie but goodie, we pulled this 2013 compilation of Aksel Lund Svindal’s freeskiing adventures in Norway and Canada out of the Red Bull archives because he has an important message for ski racers.

“I’m never going to be the guy that drops the biggest cliffs, but I should try to work on some technical skills so I can also play around a little bit,” Svindal said. “Everything you do, you learn something new. You get better as an athlete.”

Video courtesy of Red Bull

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Fenway Big Air, record TV numbers highlight successful 2015 USSA Partner Summit Fri, 24 Jul 2015 23:22:53 +0000 Sean Higgins PARK CITY, Utah – The annual USSA Partner Summit wrapped up Thursday night, highlighting the successes of the past season as well as excitement for what is to come.

USSA’s Chief Marketing Officer Michael Jaquet led the Summit, discussing everything from partners’ returns on investment to television viewership numbers. Highlighting the event was the announcement of a U.S. Grand Prix big air skiing and snowboarding event to be held Feb. 11-12 at iconic Fenway Park in Boston, Mass.fenway-park2-1

“Our intentions are to stage the biggest and best big air competition in the history of the sport at Fenway Park,” Jaquet said. Also highlighted was the uniqueness of the deal that was reached with Fenway’s owners. According to Jaquet, Fenway Sports and USSA will split revenue and costs equally, coordinating their marketing, advertising, and planning efforts.

“If you’re just renting the park, you’re not taking full advantage of their capabilities, which was the deal we do not want,” he concluded.

USSA President and CEO Tiger Shaw also took some time to reflect on past season highlights including the successful alpine World Championships in Beaver Creek, Colo. Across all sports; USSA athletes collected a total of 18 World Championship medals, 88 World Cup podiums, and eight World Cup globes.

Shaw also discussed USSA’s new membership models as well as the recent acquisition of NASTAR, a deal in which Shaw sees enormous potential for exposing new people to the sport of ski racing, with over 65,000 individuals taking runs in NASTAR courses last winter.

USSA hopes to capitalize on the momentum gained in TV viewership this past season, with 23.7 million viewers tuning in to the sport – the most ever. USSA hopes to keep these viewers watching with such events as the Fenway Big Air, the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, and the 2017 World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo.

USSA owns the television rights to these major events and sees the ability to control their exposure as the key to achieving their highest viewership numbers in history.

Following the numbers breakdown, Facebook’s Global Customer Marketing Lead Andy McKeon took the stage to discuss how brands and athletes can effectively use social media to market themselves and their products. He explained how to best use video to communicate a message to users within the first three seconds of viewing.BG5B8253

Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin followed McKeon for a brief Q&A session with the partners where they both discussed their gold medal performances at the World Championships as well as their plans for the coming season. The duo also addressed the challenge of juggling social media responsibilities between sponsorship agreements and their own personal experiences that they want to share with fans. According to them, making sponsorship posts seem as organic as possible is the most challenging thing about being a star athlete on social media.

Following Ligety and Shiffrin’s Q&A and keeping with McKeon’s theme, OSEARCH (nonprofit shark research organization) Founding Chairman and television star Chris Fischer then delivered a presentation about how capturing an audience by investing in philanthropic ventures can pay off exponentially for athletes and brands down the line. Fischer explained how OSEARCH makes all of their research free to the public via their Global Shark Tracker, allowing anyone to track the movements of any of the hundreds of sharks tagged by the OSEARCH team. Moral of the story? “Do something good, and give it away for free,” Fischer explained.

The Summit concluded with an evening at the newly renovated Utah Olympic Park where partners were treated to local food trucks, beverages, and a show put on by the Flying Ace All-Stars aerial team defying gravity into the new Big Air Pool. If the show was any indication, USSA hopes to keep flying high for years to come.

Photos courtesy of USSA

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Team Summit Colorado names new alpine director Fri, 24 Jul 2015 15:44:22 +0000 SR Staff Team Summit Colorado (TSC) has announced the addition of Greg Needell as its new alpine director and head coach. Needell has extensive experience in the world of alpine ski racing both domestically and internationally.

“I am looking forward to joining Team Summit Colorado and helping the athletes and staff reach new heights,” said Needell. “TSC has a tradition of building programs that help the athletes meet and exceed their goals and expectations. I feel my experience and previous success will shine here, and I am excited to join this team and take advantage of the natural terrain and training venues available here in Summit County.”

The US Ski Team World Cup men's technical event squad at Beaver Creek, CO December 1, 2007.  ©JSelkowitz/SElkoPhoto

Most recently, Needell was the alpine director for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, where the team placed three athletes on the U.S. Ski Team’s National Training Group (NTG) and had several athletes named to Division 1 collegiate teams.

As an athlete, Needell was a member of the ski team at Stratton Mountain in Vermont. From there he went on to race for St. Lawrence University’s NCAA alpine squad. He returned to Stratton after college to serve as head coach for the men as well as head women’s J2 coach.

Needell has also served as the program director of the Mission Ridge Ski Team in Washington and head coach at Mammoth Mountain in California.

From 2002 through 2009, Needell was a U.S. Ski Team World Cup coach under Head Coach Phil McNichol, helping lead the men’s team – including Bode Miller and Ted Ligety – to 43 wins, 105 podium finishes and 264 top-10 results.  

“We are very excited to have Greg head our alpine ski racing program as we strive to provide world class opportunities for our athletes,” said Jerry Karl, TSC executive director. “He possesses the experience, passion, and energy to lead Team Summit Colorado through this next phase, and he will set a new standard of success for our young athletes as they reach for their dreams.”

Release and photos courtesy of Team Summit Colorado

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Bode Miller to take at least 1 year off ski racing Thu, 23 Jul 2015 15:11:00 +0000 SR Staff American ski racing superstar Bode Miller reportedly told in a July 21 interview that while he is not ready to announce his retirement from the sport, he will not compete in the 2015-16 FIS Alpine World Cup season.

Miller told Frank Angst of Blood-Horse that he has purchased a barn at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., where he plans to apply a new approach to training Thoroughbreds, with remodeling work on the barn slated for this fall. He will sit out the 2015-16 competitive ski racing season but has not ruled out returning to the sport beyond that.

It has been no secret that Miller, a friend and business partner of acclaimed Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert, has aspirations in the horse racing industry. Eurosport even filmed a documentary entitled “Quest for the Future” about Miller’s post-competition plans and interest in horse racing endeavors that first aired in October 2014.

The six-time Olympic and five-time World Championship medalist suffered a torn hamstring tendon requiring surgery following a February crash in the super G at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Beaver Creek, Colo. He and wife Morgan Beck Miller welcomed their first child together (and Miller’s third) in May, a son named Nash Skan.

Miller joins Slovenian ski racing star Tina Maze in sitting out the upcoming FIS season with plans to potentially return to the circuit at a time yet to be determined.

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Hirscher, Neureuther, Svindal to race in Audi Sport TT Cup Tue, 21 Jul 2015 19:23:37 +0000 SR Staff It will be a speed thrill of a different kind for alpine superstars Marcel Hirscher, Aksel Lund Svindal and Felix Neureuther on Aug. 1-2: the three athletes will exchange skis for race cars and take part in the third racing weekend of the Audi Sport TT Cup at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. In the field of the 24 drivers, the three will hold their own “winter sports challenge”.

The Audi organizational team has worked towards having the ski stars on board in their company racing series for a long time.

“This challenge is something really special in the young history of our brand cup,” project leader Rolf Michl said. “With Neureuter, Hirscher and Svindal, we have three top stars of the alpine world at the start. After guest appearance of rallycross drivers in Hockenheim and nobles at the Norisring, we are able to offer the spectators another exciting bonus in the course of the third racing weekend.”

Other guest drivers include the former Audi DTM pilot Rahel Frey and former playmate Doreen Seidel who has been a guest driver at the Norisring in Nuernberg already.

Release courtesy of FIS, photo courtesy of Audi

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Checking in with Redneck Racing’s Robby Kelley Tue, 21 Jul 2015 14:29:34 +0000 Sean Higgins The list of Robby Kelley’s skiing accomplishments is long: National Champion, NorAm titleholder, the youngest American male to score World Cup tech points in the 2013 and 2014 seasons – the accolades could go on. Currently the 53rd ranked slalom skier in the world, Kelley is no stranger to taking the road less traveled to the World Cup.

As a member of the famous Cochran lineage of American ski racers, Kelley hopes to make his own mark on the landscape of the World Cup.

After falling short of qualifying for the development team as a junior, Kelley chose to attend college in his home state, skiing as a University of Vermont Catamount under coach Bill Reichelt starting in 2009. While at UVM, Kelley began honing his speed into something special, eventually earning a spot on the U.S. Ski Team’s C squad following his sophomore campaign in 2011. However, Kelley was overlooked for selection to UVM’s NCAA championship team in both of his years there, something that still stings to this day.

In the years since, Kelley has notched NorAm and National Championship giant slalom titles in 2012, as well as a 26th-place finish at the 2013 World Championship giant slalom in Schladming, Austria.

Despite such on-hill performances, Kelley was left off of the squad for the 2014 Sochi Games due to a criteria discrepancy, and he was subsequently cut from the national team at the end of that season.

Taking these setbacks in stride, Kelley took to forming a team of his own, Redneck Racing, with older brother Tim and fellow Vermonters Andrew McNealus and Tucker Marshall. Following a season that saw Kelley make an equipment switch in addition to shifting his focus to slalom, he surprised many with his results and was awarded a World Cup slalom start in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, as well as a nomination to the 2015-16 U.S. Ski Team.

Kelley, however, kept the surprises coming and respectfully declined his nomination in favor of having complete control over his own program, something he feels is the key to his success.

“From a personal standpoint, I was disappointed that Robby declined his (national) team nomination,” explained U.S. Europa Cup coach Ian Lochhead. “Whenever you get the chance to coach someone as talented and passionate as Robby, it’s going to be an awesome experience.”

Lochhead commended Kelley for his commitment to an independent program while underscoring just how difficult pulling it off can be. Between travel, training, video, working out, and tuning skis, the workload can overwhelm some, but it seems to be a structure in which Kelley thrives.

“Ultimately, Robby and his family made the decision they felt was right for him. I watched him switch his focus from GS to slalom last year, as well as make an equipment change, all without the support of a team, a coach, a serviceman, PT, sports science … basically all on his own. The success he achieved and the progress he made in his skiing was nothing short of amazing,” Lochhead added. “He’s clearly capable of taking care of himself, and feels comfortable making his own choices on scheduling, equipment, and technical focus. I wish him nothing but the best, and look forward to watching him ski fast this winter.”

Kelley took some time out of his busy summer schedule to answer’s questions on the decision, as well as his future plans.

What was your reaction when you heard you were selected for the U.S. Ski Team after spending last season off of it? What factored into your decision to turn it down?

It’s always an honor to be named to the Ski Team. I know for a lot of people it’s their ski racing dream to make it on to the national team. It was a tough decision to make. Ian Lochhead, the head Europa Cup coach, is one of my favorite coaches of all time, and the team is filled with a bunch of my really good friends. I know it would be a ton of fun and Ian is going to run a great program for all of those guys. After spending a year independent of the team, I found it awesome to be fully in charge of my own program and to be able to choose exactly when I am skiing, what events I’m skiing, and where I’m skiing. Rather than having a program set up for what’s best for the seven or so guys in one group as a whole, I get to do what’s best for me at all times. It’s an individual sport and the freedom to make my own decisions about my career is something that I find very liberating. Money was also definitely a factor in my decision. I really couldn’t afford what the Ski Team was charging, it wasn’t comparable to what my season ended up costing me this past year.

What are your summer plans?

I just got back from an awesome two-week camp in Les Deux Alpes, France, with my old club, the Mount Mansfield Ski Club, and I am headed down to Australia in a couple of weeks for a month of training and racing with the Mt. Hotham Racing Squad. I’ll be home in Vermont when I’m not skiing, working out hard and working for my dad selling quality building products.

(Speaking of working out hard, here’s a clip of some slalom “skiing” from one of Robby’s workouts at Cochran’s Ski Area in Richmond, Vt.)

What have all of your past experiences in skiing taught you about the sport and life?

There are going to be a ton of ups and downs along the way. I’ve had some really great moments, from winning U.S. Nationals to coming down with a big lead in front of 50,000 people at the World Championships in Schladming. I’ve also had some moments that were really tough, from not getting named to the NCAA team at UVM to being the only American to score World Cup points not named to the Olympic Team. Things don’t always go as you planned, but you have to keep working hard through the highs and lows. I want to be the fastest skier in the world, and I know that’s not an easy thing to accomplish. Whether or not it happens, I can be happy knowing I gave it everything I had.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to ski as long as I can. There’s nothing in the world I would rather be doing. I feel really fast and consistent in slalom right now and feel ready to start making my mark on the World Cup.

What are you most looking forward to this winter?

Honestly, the thing I’m looking forward to most is getting “The Face” at Cochran’s open so I can get back to taking a zillion runs of slalom a day.

(Check out Robby working on those slalom skills on the slopes of Les Deux Alpes, France.)

What are your goals for this winter as far as NorAm/Europa Cup/World Cup racing are concerned?

At this point in my career I don’t really have result-based goals, I just want to be doing everything I can in training to get myself skiing as fast as I can. I want to get in a ton of quality repetition on a bunch of different course sets and conditions so I am prepared for anything and ready to ski as fast as I can in any race I enter. I know if I focus on all the right things in training, the results will take care of themselves.

Any fun facts or hidden talents?

I really enjoy all different kinds of art, drawing, painting, digital art, photography, beat making, etc. I get a great satisfaction out of the creative process – creating something that has never existed before. I was a studio art minor at UVM.

Editor’s note: A previous version stated that Robby was the youngest American male to score WC points in 2013 and 2014. In fact, he was actually the youngest to score World Cup tech points (slalom and GS), younger Americans had scored in downhill, super-g, and super combined those two years.

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VIDEO: July schralping on Mt. Hood Mon, 20 Jul 2015 19:21:31 +0000 SR Staff Summer snow levels at Mt. Hood were some of the lowest in history, but that didn’t stop Marcus Caston and Martin Lentz from schrapling whatever gnar they could still find in July on the dormant volcano.

Video courtesy of Marcus Caston

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