Bear Bryant wins Blegen Award at USSA Congress
Barry “Bear” Bryant highlighted perhaps the busiest day of the 2013 USSA Congress with a stellar acceptance speech after being presented the Julius Blegen Award, the highest honor the association hands out.
The award was the finale of 50 awards presented at USSA’s Chairman’s Awards Dinner Friday (May 17) night after three days packed with meetings of working groups, committees and sub-committees. Most considered the meetings to be particularly productive with more than a dozen a day held throughout the Park City Marriott.
Bryant commented, with no small amount of humor, on his lengthy career in ski racing mentioning working with several previous Blegen Award winners including Willy Schaeffler and Bob Beattie and the teams they created. His concluding statement summarized his philosophy.
“This Julius Blegen Award that you have presented me is a team effort for the best in the world. Thank you.”
While the morning’s keynote address from USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt celebrated the multiple successes of the national ski teams, he also said, “we can’t take anything for granted,” and warned against complacency.
Among the longer meetings (three and a half hours) was that of the Alpine Development and Education subcommittee which in the end acted to spin off the education portion to a separate sub-committee and add the USSA Alpine Director (Patrick Riml) and Regional Development Director (Lester Keller) as voting committee members.
Of interest to racers and parents of racers was a proposal to continue to allow the use of both the old and new FIS regulated ski length and shapes at USSA sanctioned races this season negating the requirement of buying a new arsenal of equipment. – subject to approval by the alpine executive committee and the USSA board.
Another – also requiring final approval – was to ban first year FIS license holders from gaining their first points in Southern Hemisphere races. “The pressure to go South to kick start the point profile favors the rich,” said Keller.
The committee voted to table a decision on limiting access to FIS licenses and tabled a decision to limit the number of starts allowed U10, U12, U14 and U16 competitors. They also rejected a change to the course setting matrix and heard a detailed study on the influence of different types of slalom poles (length and circumference) on younger racers.
The Alpine Collegiate Working Group will be working to become a more viable part of the development pipeline and will be looking to create multiple team development projects for the coming season. The group also heard concerns about making college ski racing more affordable and publicizing racing opportunities for non-team skiers.
Other award winners included:
USSA Ski Club of the Year – Sun Valley
USSA Coach of the Year – Erik Flora
USSA Development Coach of the Year – Wes Preston
Beck International Award – Ted Ligety
Westhaven Award – Ed Albert
Paul Bacon Award (event organization) – Copper Mountain Resort
John J Clair Jr Award (service to USSA) – Walt Evans
Bud and Mary Little Award (service to FIS/USOC) – Jim McCarthy
Buddy Werner Award (sportsmanship) – Ross Powers
Russell Wilder Award (service to youth) – New England Nordic Ski Association
J Leland Sosman Award – Dr.Thomas Hackett
West Family Award (alpine officials) Esther DelliQuardi
Adaptive Athlete of the Year – Allison Jones
Alpine Athlete of the Year – Ted Ligety
Cross Country Athlete of the Year – Kikkan Randall
Freestyle Athlete of the Year – Hannah Kearney
Freeskiing Athlete of the Year – David Wise
Nordic Combined Athlete of the Year – Taylor Fletcher
Ski Jumping Athlete of the Year – Sarah Hendrickson
Snowboard Athlete of the Year – Kelly Clark
Adaptive International Coach of the Year – Brad Alire
Adaptive Domestic Coach of the Year – Kurt Smitz
Alpine International Coach of the Year – Alex Hoedlmoser
Alpine Domestic Coach of the Year – Rob Dowd
Cross Country International Coach of the Year – Erik Flora
Cross Country Domestic Coach of the Year – Gus Kaeding
Freestyle International Coach of the Year – Lasse Fahlen
Photo: Barry Bryant accepts award from USSA Chairman Dexter Paine by Sarah Brunson