U.S. Ski & Snowboard released their 2020-21 alpine team nomination criteria on Friday as well as their World Cup, Europa Cup, and World Junior criteria for the 2019-20 winter.
Highlighting this year’s criteria is a change to a two-year team nomination which U.S. Ski & Snowboard believes will allow for improved athlete management strategies. Objective criteria for a team nomination remains unchanged except for the addition of a physical fitness requirement for C and D Team athletes.
Athletes that receive a team nomination at the end of the 2020 season based on objective criteria will be members of the national team for the following two seasons, as opposed to just one as has been the case in the past. Current U.S. Ski Team athletes on the 2019-20 roster have also been grandfathered in to this change and will all be extended a nomination to next season’s roster as well.
“This allows us to have a little bit more of a long-term strategy with our athlete management and we feel that it’s a good direction to go in athletically,” said U.S. Ski Team Alpine Director Jesse Hunt. “That’s a big shift for us.”
Driving the change is a recognition by the national governing body that the team’s current criteria is very hard to achieve. U.S. Ski & Snowboard believes that athletes who do make the national team are best served by staying part of the program for a longer period of time given the amount of variables and unpredictability associated with competing at the higher levels of the sport.
“It’s sweet,” said A-Team member Bryce Bennett. “We’ve been fighting for this for a while. From an athlete’s perspective, the criteria is really hard to make and if you make it, we felt like you should be afforded that opportunity for two years. If you’re not able to perform within those two years it makes more sense to make those cuts.”
“One season can be tough,” Bennett added. “Maybe things don’t add up for you equipment wise or you’re not in the right headspace or it’s a terrible winter with terrible snow. Sometimes, you just need a little more time.”
In addition to these major changes, the language of the injury clause has been altered to better clarify when an athlete is eligible for an automatic re-nomination following a season-ending injury and when they fall under coaches’ discretion. With the new criteria, if an athlete suffers a season-ending injury prior to February 1, that athlete will be re-nominated to their current team regardless of age restrictions. If an injury occurs after February 1 and the athlete has not met objective criteria for the following season, their re-nomination falls under coaches’ discretion.
The World Cup start guidelines for 2019-20 remain unchanged. World Cup eligibility requirements, however, have been tightened down some from a world rank of top-120 to top-80 or a top-60 rank on the World Cup Start List (WCSL) for the event being selected for to fill a nation team spot. Basic quota for World Cup eligibility has been reduced from a top-350 world rank to a top-150 in the event being selected for. These changes reflect a desire from FIS to make World Cup fields smaller and raise the quality of athlete each country enters.
“Basically, the World Cup is ratcheting its requirements up a bit and trying to get higher-quality athletes on the Tour,” said Hunt.
For the full 2020-21 U.S. Ski Team nomination criteria, click here.
For the full 2019-20 World Cup start guidelines, click here.
For the full 2019-20 Europa Cup start guidelines, click here.
For the full 2020 World Junior Championship selection criteria, click here.