Marolt Sets Stage for 2006With nine months remaining, USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt said Friday U.S. skiers and snowboarders were poised and ready to achieve their longheld goal of “Best in the World” at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. “The time is now,” he said, pointing to the need for a sense of urgency in final preparations.
In his keynote address to USSA’s Congress 2005, Marolt recalled the steps USSA has taken since he was named CEO in the summer of 1996, creating a vision and then marching toward the goal. Recent successes include the 15 at the various 2005 World Championships medals (seven gold), 15 Worlds medals (four gold) in 2003 and 10 Olympic medals (two gold) in 2002.
“We have a unique opportunity, an opportunity we’ve never had .. an opportunity to accomplish a goal that few people believed when we set out on this mission,” he said. “We’re poised. We’re ready.”
Since he took over as president and CEO in 1996, he said, continuity and consistency of both leadership and sport programs have been vital ingredients in the multiple U.S. successes. “Every year you learn and you improve, and you make things better. That all translates into what you saw at World Champs this year in every sport,” he said. Upwards of 250 delegates are attending the convention.
While it’s important to savor the medals and World Cup wins and podiums and other success, Marolt said, there’s also a need to remember the 2006 Olympics are only nine months away.
Time to recenter, refocus
“But now what we need to do is make sure we recenter ourselves and we refocus. You can’t take anything for granted just because we’ve had a good run of success. Everything we’ve set out to do we’ve done,” Marolt said, “but it doesn’t guarantee anything next year.
USSA’s slogan, he repeated, is “Best in the World – The Time Is Now!”
“There are no guarantees,” he went on, so the focus has to swing for yesterday return to tomorrow – “preparing for that moment, preparing for the time when our athletes stand in the starting gate. They have to stand there fully prepared – physically, mentally, technologically, the best equipment…stand there knowing we didn’t leave any stone unturned” in the drive to help them succeed.
“As good as it is, we’ve got to take the next step. If we’re gonna get to Best in the World, we’ve got one more step to go. And it’s gonna happen, he said, “because we have refocused, we have recentered, we have done the work. We’re confident and we’re ready to compete…”
“If you’re perfectly prepared in that moment in time when you go out of the gate, you are confident. You know you’re going to get the job done. You have no greater feeling than to know when you go out of that gate it’s gonna click – it’s gonna be Bam! Bam! Bam!”
He’s highly pleased, he said, with the sense of team, which has been created since he returned in all sports. “It’s uniquely American. It’s something that we thrive on,” Marolt said. “It’s what makes the difference when our athletes are going for gold – the fact they belong to a team and they take pride in that.
“They count on each other. They depend on each other. They respect each other.”
USSA clubs are foundation of success
Marolt praised USSA clubs as the foundation for any success. “This entire program is built on the 400 clubs we have in this country. What happens in the local club or academy program – the passion and the enthusiasm you have at the local level, that’s where the spirit is instilled in these kids,” he said.
And while Torino’s Winter Games are an obvious short-term focus, “we’ve got to be thinking about ’10 and ’14. It doesn’t get easier. It’s gonna get harder – but that’s what makes it good … when you accomplish it, then you know you’ve done something – and that something is Best in the World!”
He pointed to a huge crystal globe on a nearby table and told the delegates it was from the freestyle team winning the Nations Cup, which symbolizes team supremacy in World Cup events. “Our freestyle team is best in the world – that’s where we want all our programs,” he said.
Former Michigan coaching great Bo Schembechler came to Park City a month ago to address the annual Athletic Summit, the yearly review of the previous season and the planning vehicle for the next winter, Marolt recalled.
In his 27 years at Michigan, Schembechler told the group, “Our goals were to win the Big 10, to go to the Rose Bowl and win the Rose Bowl, and then to win a national championship…”
He paused and looked at USSA’s “Best in the World – The Time is Now” banner, Marolt said, “and he just shook his head and said, ‘but Best in the World – now THAT’s something.'”
Marolt concluded, “We’re gonna get there. We are gonna make this happen.”