U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) leaders and snow sports club coaches and program directors from around the country gathered in Park City, Utah May 8-9 to discus the direction of the sport’s foundation at the 2012 Excellence Conference.

“Overall, the goal of the conference was a lot of sharing of ideas,” said USSA sport education director Jon Nolting. “We wanted to help lead and bring in expertise that will be really valuable for club leaders this year so we can all share ideas and ask questions.”

Among the highlights of the conference was the club leaders’ introduction to the USSA’s new training system tool – SkillsQuest. The new tool, which will be put to broad use for the first time by young alpine racers this fall, has the aim of developing fundamental skiing skills on an age-appropriate scale. The SkillsQuest program has the goal of helping USSA clubs achieve “optimal training, competition and recovery programming with relation to biological development and maturation” while making skills training fun, cool and rewarding. In addition to a series of recommended drills and evaluations, SkillsQuest will incorporate a video comparison tool and other online resources. SkillsQuest programs designed for cross country, freestyle and snowboarding athletes are set to be rolled out during the 2013/14 season with programs for freeskiing and jumping and nordic combined skiers during the 2014/15 season. 

“The feedback and comments have all been pretty positive, it’s something that coaches and programs have been looking for for a while, particularly relating to skiing skill,” said Nolting about the introduction of SkillsQuest. “We are excited to go out this fall and, with SkillsQuest as a platform, talk to athletes and their parents about the concepts, so that is going to be a key part too.”

The coaches were also tutored in the latest in mental strength training, coaching education, concussion management and social media.

Presentations on the organization’s new Club Development System, child protection practices and snow making were also part of the schedule.

“The goal is to have a platform to establish better collaboration with the clubs and USSA and also for us to be able to provide the clubs with more resources to help make them stronger programs” said Nolting of the new Club Development System. “Part of that process is identifying best practices that clubs use and in that process it’s logical to recognize and reward clubs that are doing a good job.”

The conference’s keynote address was give by USA Hockey athlete development director Ken Martel who shared with the ski leaders the approach USA Hockey has taken to addressing the common problems of maintaining a source of elite talent to compete and highest levels of the sport, as well as avoiding a drop in participant numbers at young ages. Martel also provided details on the national governing body of hockey’s model for long term athlete development.

Many conference attendees will stay in Park City through the weekend to
take part in the 2012 USSA Congress. Check back for news from those

Click here to access the presentation archives of this year’s and previous Excellence conferences.

The USSA’s new Club Handbook was also made available to coaches and club leaders and is available for download here

Article Tags: Alpine , Top Story
Eric Williams



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