To the Editor:
With the 2018 Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships underway in Sun Valley, this is the perfect time to give you an update on alpine strategy and development and Project 26, our just concluded, analytic deep dive into the development and progression of athletes. We reviewed our own successes and failures, as well as those of many other countries. Through this effort we developed a strategic plan and selection criteria which we are using going forward and are currently in the midst of implementing. It is a busy, heady time for sure. We have a great sense of urgency now as we conclude and react to a season that had highs and lows. We have learned from both and are taking action. The impacts of our critical measures now will be felt both in Beijing 2022 and at the 2026 Olympic Games. I am excited by the commitment to change that we have, now and in the future.
I want to stress that our core focus is, and always has been, on athletes. We have a proud record of identifying talented athletes and creating environments in which those athletes can reach their full potential as world class competitors. In multiple other winter sports disciplines that U.S. Ski & Snowboard represents, in particular cross country skiing, freestyle and the snowboard and freeski sports, we are achieving the goals we and our athletes have set, but we do recognize we have work to do in other disciplines to be Best In The World, including alpine ski racing.
We have been, and will continue to, take an aggressive approach to finding and implementing improvements in this critical area. In the spring of 2016, U.S. Ski & Snowboard undertook Project 26, a comprehensive, in-depth analysis to better understand and learn both from our own alpine development system and those of other major nations in our sport. Project 26 represents an evolutionary change in how U.S. Ski & Snowboard, along with our regional and club network, approaches national team selection and development programming, now and in the future.
Project 26 could not have been initiated without the vision and hard work of many people, in particular Dan Leever. We thank him and everyone involved in the creation of this critical piece of work for laying the foundations for future success. We welcome everyone who shares our same goals and vision for achieving success and we are always open to honest, frank, productive discussions about how we can adapt and improve to make sure all our athletes are given the platform to become Best In The World.
This is a very exciting time, implementing the components of Project 26. We have just announced that Sasha Rearick, previously head coach of the men’s alpine team, has moved to a new role as head men’s development coach for alpine ski racing. Sasha is one of the most experienced, respected coaches worldwide, and he will bring experience, knowledge and insights that will add huge value to the work Chip Knight, alpine development director, is already doing.
Additionally, we hope to announce soon the appointment of a new, highly experienced women’s development coach, and an equally capable coach education expert to work with Jon Casson, our Director of Sport Education. These new roles are part of many changes we will continue to make to ensure we give our athletes the greatest possible opportunities of being Best In The World.
I cannot stress highly enough how urgent this task is, and we are dedicating significant resource at all relevant levels to execute the components outlined by Project 26. Again, we welcome all ideas, feedback and constructive criticism of our work and look forward to engaging in positive discussions about every aspect of our focus on this vital area of athlete development.
TIGER SHAW, President & CEO U.S. Ski & Snowboard
Editor’s note: This is a letter submitted to Ski Racing by Shaw, which was sent to members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s Boards on March, 23.