Jitloff Waves Goodbye to the World Cup

American World Cup veteran Tim Jitloff announced his retirement from ski racing in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

“I have travelled the world, competed against the best, and challenged myself to reach and go beyond my limits,” he wrote. “The time has now come to say goodbye. It is not with sadness that I say this, but with joy and gratitude.”

Jitloff made his World Cup debut in 2006 and while he never earned a World Cup podium, he had several top-10 results throughout the course of his career. The 33-year-old skier competed in two Olympic Winter Games, earning 15th in the giant slalom at Sochi, and six World Championships.

Sasha Rearick Appointed as Head Alpine Men’s Development Coach

U.S. Ski & Snowboard has announced today that Sasha Rearick has been appointed to the role of head men’s development coach for alpine ski racing for the national governing body of Olympic ski and snowboard sports in the USA.

Rearick, a 16-year veteran of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, is one of the most respected and experienced coaches working in snowsports worldwide. He moves to his new position of head men’s development coach from his previous role as head coach of the men’s alpine team, a position he held for 10 years.

“I am very excited about bringing my 16 years of World Cup and Europa Cup experience, my knowledge and my enthusiasm to this new role,” said Rearick, ahead of the 2018 Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships in Sun Valley. “We have a very clear focus on helping our nation’s young athletes develop their skills for future long term success, and to be part of that in my new role is a tremendous opportunity.

“In America, we have a number of clear advantages over our competition worldwide which we must capitalize on by working together in a clear direction. Success will come from many sources, but it will take everyone in the racing community to be focused on the process to ensure that we achieve what we are setting out to do. I am looking forward to working with the athletes, their parents, the coaches and clubs to create this process which will give everyone the best opportunity to achieve their goals and see their dreams come true, now and for many years to come.

“I personally love big challenges and I hope the American ski racing community will join me with the same enthusiasm I have for 100% effort, athletic skill development and commitment to excellence.”

“Sasha has been one of the most successful head coaches in our team’s history and this appointment reinforces our core commitment to developing the very best young athletes in the world,” said Luke Bodensteiner, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s chief of sport. “Sasha has worked at every level of the development pipeline, and the fact that he sees such an opportunity, right now, to work with our talented young athletes and their clubs across the country, speaks volumes about his conviction in making the U.S. Ski Team the best in the world, on a long-term, sustainable basis.

“Sasha will be working very closely with Chip Knight, our alpine development director. We are thrilled that we can add Sasha’s knowledge and experience to the excellent work Chip and his team does, bringing one of our all-time most successful coaches to our development program. Together, Chip and Sasha will be working directly with our young athletes and their parents, and with our clubs as extra resources and as leaders.  This will also help us achieve our goal of enhancing the positive impact of our focus on development, not only with the identification of talent and improved selections, but by enabling more athletes to progress through each successive level of the U.S. Ski Team. We are tremendously excited to see what Sasha and Chip can do to build a sustainable pipeline of young champions well into the future.”

“It is fantastic news that someone like Sasha, with as much experience, passion and knowledge as he has, is moving into this critical new role. Our focus on developing young talent has always been a core element of the work we do at U.S. Ski & Snowboard, and Sasha will add even more value into our team as we seek to magnify the impact of our junior-level programming with the next generation,” said Chip Knight, alpine development director.

“In Spring 2016 we began a comprehensive study of our own alpine development system and those of other major nations in our sport. As a result of that study, we created ‘Project 26’ which is an evolutionary change in how U.S. Ski & Snowboard, along with our regional and club network, now approaches national team selection and development programming in the future, specifically looking ahead to results at the 2022 and 2026 Olympics, and beyond.

“This program, to which Sasha will now be adding his immense experience and knowledge, has formed our new foundation of criteria for naming annual A-B-C Teams, as well as introducing an innovative methodology for inviting and managing athletes into the alpine development program. Future elements will dive down even further into age groups, as well as applying these initial learnings to other sports in which U.S. Ski & Snowboard works.”

“Sasha’s appointment is a significant step forward in implementing Project 2026, and fundamentally changing the way that alpine development is structured and managed in the USA,” added Bodensteiner. “Many nations talk the talk of having their “best coaches at the foundation” but few commit to it, and with Sasha joining our development team, we are walking the talk.

“We are not stopping there. In addition to Sasha, we will also be hiring a highly experienced women’s development coach, and an equally capable coach education expert to work with Jon Casson, our Director of Sport Education, to add significant extra experience and knowledge into the excellent work our sport education team are already doing.

“Our aim is to target our strongest leadership and expertise at our biggest opportunities, and alpine athlete and coach development is one of our major priorities and where we know we can see major improvements. Everyone at U.S. Ski & Snowboard is excited about these new developments and we anticipate that the investments we are making now will pay off by making us the best team in the world in 2026 and for years beyond.”

Adding his thoughts is U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s CEO Tiger Shaw who said, “Sasha has been a  key, successful member of our team for many years, and now we are able to leverage his tremendous experience and knowledge which will drive the development of the next generation of alpine ski racing talent.

“Athletes and their success is our primary focus. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is 100% dedicated to the hundreds of athletes we work with, and to their becoming the best in the world. Sasha is going to have an immediate and positive impact on the development of young athletes in our men’s alpine team. These are exciting times for alpine racing as we build out our program spanning all levels in the USA.”

Release courtesy of U.S. Ski & Snowboard

US Ski & Snowboard Designates New High Performance Center in Idaho

The Julia Argyros Training Center at Community School’s Ketchum Campus has been designated a U.S. Ski & Snowboard High Performance Center. This designation reflects a collaboration between the Sun Valley Ski Academy (a partnership between Community School and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) and U.S. Ski & Snowboard to provide young snow sport athletes regional training centers and expert coaching to further develop their skills.

The Julia Argyros Training Center in Community School’s Ketchum Campus is modeled after U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah. The state-of-the-art 3,200-square-foot space serves Community School Upper School and Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) athletes and offers everything an athlete needs to become strong and fit for their athletic endeavors.

In August, Johnie Michael joined Community School’s staff as High Performance Specialist. Michael manages the Julia Argyros Training Center and coordinates strength, conditioning, and sport science services for high school athletes participating in a wide variety of SVSEF and Community School sports. In addition, Michael designs, implements, and monitors all aspects of athletes’ yearly plans for athletic development. Prior to joining Community School, Michael most recently worked at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah, providing strength and conditioning training for all disciplines with a focus on freestyle. His experience with Olympic athletes included all aspects of athletic development including strength, power, speed, agility, and more.

“The designation of these facilities as a U.S. Ski & Snowboard High Performance Center recognizes the world-class caliber of the equipment and expertise the site offers to athletes to help them pursue the highest levels of snow sport competition,” said Luke Bodensteiner, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Chief of Sport. “The support provided for athletes in Sun Valley has and will continue to allow athletes to achieve their goals at all levels.”

“Since the inception of the Sun Valley Ski Academy and Community School’s Residential Program, we have consistently put in place programs that enable our student-athletes to receive a phenomenal education while training and competing at an elite level in their respective snow sport disciplines,” said Jonna Mendes, Sun Valley Ski Academy’s Program Director. “As one of very few ski academies with a designated U.S. Ski & Snowboard High Performance Center, we continue to pursue initiatives that elevate the student-athlete experience.”

SVSEF Alpine Program Director Scott McGrew noted the significant benefit to snow sport training that the Julia Argyros Training Center provides. “With the U.S. Ski & Snowboard High Performance designation, and through our partnership with Community School, SVSEF programs are elevated to a new standard. SVSEF athletes will surely benefit from access to elite-level training and educational resources, as well as the cultural implications that come with having this level of programming. This facility has drawn high-caliber athletes, from top U16 cross country skiers to local SVSEF alumni who compete at the international level in their respective sports, thereby setting a new standard of professionalism and giving fresh insight and perspective to our own athletes. Results are already evident with the introduction of this new facility; our athletes’ strength and athleticism, as well as their commitment to and knowledge of training and its benefits, have all improved. As an organization that historically produces top skiers and riders, we are excited to see how this designation helps further our athletes’ growth and development.”

At Sun Valley Ski Academy, ninth grade through postgraduate day and boarding student-athletes are supported to reach their highest potential academically and in snow sport competition, while also benefiting from extracurricular activities. SVSA students find meaningful academic challenge at Community School; train as a member of SVSEF, benefitting from the proven coaching power of a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Gold Certified Club, one of only 19 in the nation; have the flexibility and support to pursue intensive training and competition schedules that (might, could, will) take them all over the nation and world; participate in Community School’s signature Outdoor Program, exploring the landscape of the West through trips that make the most of the area’s stunning wilderness areas and connect students with their school community.

Release courtesy of Sun Valley Ski Academy

Brunner Suffers Knee Injury at Austrian National Championships

During the Austrian National Championships in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, World Cup skier Stephanie Brunner was seriously injured. Without falling, she suffered a tear of the ACL and meniscus in her left knee.

“The situation was actually very unspectacular,” Brunner said. “I only got one hit, but it was clear to me that something in the knee did not fit.”

For the 24-year-old, this is the first serious knee injury of her career. Brunner will be operated in Innsbruck on Tuesday evening.

Brunner just wrapped up the World Cup season ranked sixth in the giant slalom standings. She had top-10 World Cup finishes in GS, slalom, super-G and alpine combined.

Release courtesy of the Austrian Ski Federation

Brunner Suffers Knee Injury at Austrian National Championships

During the Austrian National Championships in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, World Cup skier Stephanie Brunner was seriously injured. Without falling, she suffered a tear of the ACL and meniscus in her left knee.

“The situation was actually very unspectacular,” Brunner said. “I only got one hit, but it was clear to me that something in the knee did not fit.”

For the 24-year-old, this is the first serious knee injury of her career. Brunner will be operated in Innsbruck on Tuesday evening.

Brunner just wrapped up the World Cup season ranked sixth in the giant slalom standings. She had top-10 World Cup finishes in GS, slalom, super-G and alpine combined.

Release courtesy of the Austrian Ski Federation

Svindal and Shiffrin Weigh in on Longines Future Ski Champions

Longines ambassadors Mikaela Shiffrin and Aksel Lund Svindal each had a piece of wisdom to offer the teenage athletes competing in the Longines Future Ski Champions race.

Svindal’s advice: “have patience.”

Shiffrin’s advice: “have fun.”

In an effort to nurture the next generation of ski champions, Longines invited the best 15-year-old ski racers from 12 countries to sample a taste of the big leagues for the Future Ski Champions race on Friday. The event took place on the same slope as the World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden. Under a blue, cloudless, sunny sky but amid frigid (-18C) temperatures, the top-ranked U16 male from Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, Finland, South Korea, Japan, Canada, the United States and Austria competed in a two-run giant slalom format.

Italian Lorenzo Thomas Bini was the athlete to set the pace, throwing down the fastest first run with France’s Benjamin Hoareau on his heels and Swedish athlete Anton Rosnas in third position, both less than a half a second behind the Italian going into the second run. The same line up ended up on the podium, Bini on the top step, then Hoareau second and Rosnas third. American Jack Reich, fresh off of winning the overall U16 Rocky Central Division last weekend in Winter Park, Colo., finished fourth.

With the victory, Bini claimed the illustrious status of Longines Future Ski Champion, winning a crystal globe etched with the names of the previous Future Champions. He was also awarded a gold medal, a brand new Longines and a check for 20,000 U.S. dollars donated to the Italian Ski Federation.

“It was the [most] important race in my life,” Bini said after the race. “It’s a fantastic experience to be here, then the race goes well. I skied well, so I’m happy.”

The Italian, who hails from Sestriere, said he was a bit nervous leading into the second run. He views this victory as a springboard for fulfilling his ski racing dreams to come.

“Fingers crossed for the future,” he said. “I will continue skiing because I love it. The World Cup is my dream. This is the firs step and then I have to continue working for becoming stronger every day.”

Bini is thus on his way to that goal of patience that Svindal preached. The Norwegian superstar presented prizes to the podium finishers and offered a congratulatory handshake to each of the 12 athletes. He recalled the first big race of his own decorated career as a 16-year-old competing on the same hill in Are.

“I did very badly,” Svindal recalled. “Looking back when I did the first race here, that seems like a long time ago. Then I won my first World Cup here in 2006. That was 11 years ago, but it doesn’t seem that long ago. Patience is what I would say.  I remember the pressure and how nervous I was, the pressure that you put on yourself really, because you want to be fast. In that age, when you’re trying to make it, there’s so much to take in. After that, on the World Cup, you keep learning, but you’re around the same people. In that age, it’s constantly something new, especially if you’re doing well. Every time you do well, you get bumped up to the next level, then you’re starting in the back again. You have one bad race and you think it’s the end of the world.”

If Svindal, who has come back from multiple ghastly injuries to win big and ultimately become the oldest Olympic ski champion, isn’t a shining testament to patience, nobody is. For teenager racers, he has this to say:

“Whatever method you could use to make it … I wouldn’t say less serious, but less like it comes down to this single moment, do it,” he says. “Don’t make it too serious. You try to get better, try to get better, but each race is not the end of the world. Each race is learning something to get to the next level.”

Which brings us to Shiffrin’s advice:

“The first message for the athletes in this Future Ski champions Race is to enjoy being here,” she says. “I think back on my Future Ski Champions moments, for me it was in Whistler or Topolino – it feels in some ways like a long time ago but it also feels like it was yesterday. Those races felt like the biggest things I’d ever experience. For these athletes, it’s probably close to one of the first times they’re getting that world-class experience. It will be great for their future in ski racing but also for their future in life. After ski racing, they’ll look back on this experience and say, that was so incredible to go to these races, to meet some of my idols in ski racing, to be inspired like that. You take that inspiration with you.”

Release and image courtesy of Longines

Veteran Coach Rob Worrell Returns to SSCV

As part of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s (SSCV) ongoing commitment to youth alpine development, the organization is pleased to announce the return of a familiar face to its coaching ranks. Rob Worrell, the 2016 U.S. Ski & Snowboard Alpine Coach of the Year, is set to return to SSCV in the newly created role of youth alpine coaches education manager.

In his new position, Worrell will manage all aspects of the coaches’ education within SSCV’s youth alpine coaching staff. A goal of SSCV in the years ahead is to become a premier training ground for current and developing coaches, and Worrell’s background and international experience lend themselves to this pursuit.

In a demonstration of SSCV’s commitment to youth development, Worrell’s efforts will complement the ongoing work of Alissa Consenstein, who will continue in her role as the youth alpine program director. The pairing of Worrell and Consenstein, along with the 2017 addition of John Hale as chief operating officer, helps facilitate club’s objective of not merely performing within in the Rocky Mountain Division, but genuinely meeting the critical need for true, fundamental skill development within U.S. alpine ski racing.

“Alissa’s passion and commitment to youth alpine combined with Rob’s background and study of youth development systems will form a strong team that is unrivaled within ski racing at the youth ages,” said Hale. “I am personally thrilled with this latest development within youth alpine. Executive Director Kirk Dwyer and I, along with the generous supporters of SSCV youth alpine, eagerly look forward to all that this team and the youth alpine staff will bring to our club next season.”

Worrell has previously held the roles of men’s alpine director and U16 head coach at SSCV. He spent the 2017-18 season on a one-year sabbatical during which time he worked in Europe with the British Ski Academy. This additional time abroad has furthered Rob’s European experience, which includes valuable exposure to the Austrian development system via SSCV’s partnership with Ski Gymnasium Stams and an in-depth examination of the Norwegian development system via a fact-finding trip sponsored by SSCV in 2014. In addition to earning the USSA Alpine Coach of the Year honors, Worrell was previously the alpine head coach in Steamboat, alpine program director for Team Summit, and a U.S. Ski Team regional coach.

The management team at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail is thrilled to welcome Worrell back to home snow and looking forward to announcing additional developments in the youth alpine department throughout the spring.

Release from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail

Kurka Goes Gold and Silver, Stephens Bronze at Paralympics

After a heartbreaking crash in a training run in Sochi in 2014, Alaska’s Andrew Kurka returned victoriously to win gold in the men’s sitting downhill on the first day of the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. The U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing Team garnered two medals as Laurie Stephens also brought home bronze in the women’s race.

Kurka returned to the podium for the second day in a row as he won silver in the men’s sitting super-G competition at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games .

“To be a champion in the Paralympic Games is the greatest honor I could ask for,” Kurka said of his downhill performance. “The fact that I came out here and I put down the very first Paralympic medal for Alaska, my home state, and the fact that it’s gold, to me is a fantastic feeling.”

The eighth skier to compete, Kurka stormed to a dominant lead and held off a competitive field of more than 25 athletes for his first Paralympic medal. Kurka’s time of 1:24.11 bested runner-up and four-time Paralympic medalist Taiki Morii of Japan by more than a second and a half. This was his largest margin of victory ever in a downhill race.

In the super-G, Kurka stormed down the course and managed to pull through, nearly losing his balance at the end to stay upright and cross the finish line. Kurka finished just more than a second behind gold medalist Kurt Oatway of Canada, grabbing silver by nine-hundredths of a second over Frederic Francois of France.

“Being a two-time Paralympic medalist is a dream come true, and it feels like everything up to this point has been worth it,” Kurka said. “That’s really what the feeling is for me. When it comes down to it, simply put, this event was redemption for me. All the injuries — breaking my back in Sochi, breaking my femur, all those broken bones — come down to being worth it. And this is a huge step in my future. It’s a goal that not many people get to accomplish in their lives, and it’s something I’ve accomplished now, and that I’m extremely grateful for. And I’m hoping to keep the momentum going.”

Stephens claimed bronze in the women’s sitting downhill in a repeat of her result from Sochi. Stephens cemented her status as the most decorated member of the U.S. Paralympic Team as she now owns seven Paralympic medals (two gold, two silver and three bronze).

“I’m pretty excited,” Stephens shared. “I was really nervous this morning, and I’m just so happy that I was able to win a bronze. This track was fast and the snow was firm. We had a couple of rough days in the training runs, so it is great that the weather was so awesome. I just remember how much I love skiing. I do this because I love the sport of skiing and I love going out and making turns and going fast, and I just have to remind myself that I’m here because I love to ski.”

The Paralympics continue through March 18. A full schedule is available here.

1st: Andrew Kurka (Palmer, Ala./men’s sitting)
3rd: Laurie Stephens (Wenham, Mass./women’s sitting)
7th: Melanie Schwartz (Aspen, Colo./women’s standing); Kevin Burton (Erie, Colo./Navy/visually impaired) and Brandon Powell-Ashby (Boulder, Colo./Marines/ guide)
8th: Stephanie Jallen (Harding, Pa./women’s standing)
18th: Andrew Haraghey (Enfield, Conn./men’s standing); Stephen Lawler (Burlington, Vt./men’s sitting)

2nd: Andrew Kurka (Palmer, Alaska/men’s sitting)
5th: Laurie Stephens (Wenham, Mass./women’s sitting)
6th: Danelle Umstead (Park City, Utah/women’s visually impaired) and Rob Umstead (Park City, Utah/guide)
7th: Ally Kunkel (Steamboat, Colo./women’s standing)
8th: Stephanie Jallen (Harding, Pa./women’s standing)
9th: Kevin Burton (Erie, Colo./Navy/visually impaired) and Brandon Powell-Ashby (Boulder, Colo./Marines/guide)
10th: Staci Mannella (Randolph, N.J./women’s visually impaired) and Sadie DeBaun (Park City, Utah/guide); Melanie Schwartz (Aspen, Colo./women’s standing)
11th: Mark Bathum (Seattle, Wash./men’s visually impaired) and Cade Yamamoto (Quincy, Wash./guide)
12th: Tyler Walker (Franconia, N.H./men’s sitting)
13th: Thomas Walsh (Vail, Colo./men’s standing)
17th: Jamie Stanton (Oakland Township, Mich./men’s standing)
23rd: Stephen Lawler (Burlington, Vt./men’s sitting)
24th: Andrew Haraghey (Enfield, Conn./men’s standing)

Release courtesy of Team USA.

Denver Wins 24th National Championship Title

It all came down to the final day of competition, but the University of Denver (DU) ski team secured its 24th NCAA National Championship title on Saturday.

“It feels incredible,” said Head Alpine Coach Andy LeRoy. “I am so happy for all of our athletes, they’ve been training all week and all season and to do it in Steamboat in front of our crowd is special.”

After the slalom race on Friday night, the Pioneers took the lead by a slim margin of 26 points over the University of Colorado. It was up to the DU Nordic team to maintain it. All six Pioneer nordic skiers competing on the final day earned All-America status, as the team earned 90 points from the men and 77 points from the women.

“That’s our goal all year, so it is very rewarding for our athletes and coaching staff to win another national title,” said Head Nordic Coach Dave Stewart. “It’s very challenging but winning a title is what is all about.”

The final standings were as follows: 1st: Denver (2018 NCAA Skiing Champions), 2nd: Colorado, 3rd: Dartmouth, 4th: Utah, 5th: Vermont, 6th: Montana State, 7th: New Mexico, 8th: Middlebury, 9th: Alaska Anchorage, 10th: Northern Michigan, 11th: New Hampshire, 12th: St. Michael’s, 13th: Williams, 14th: Alaska Fairbanks, 15th: Colby, 16th: Plymouth State, 17th: St. Lawrence, 18th: Bates, 19th: Michigan Tech, 20th: Boston College, 21st: Bowdoin, 22nd: St. Scholastica, 23rd: Harvard.

Release courtesy of University of Denver and NCAA

Values in Ski Racing: Part Two

In part one of my two-part series on values in ski racing, I explored the essential importance of values as the foundation of your children’s ski racing experiences. I also described what I consider to be healthy and unhealthy values. In part two of this series, I discuss how you can ensure that your young ski racers embrace healthy values that will shape their ski racing and personal development in the most positive way possible.

Where Do Your Children Get Their Ski Racing Values?
The most obvious place from which your children get their values about ski racing is from you. As a general rule, whatever values you possess and express, whether political, religious, social, or, in our case, related to ski racing, your children are mostly to adopt them. Why? Because they are exposed to your values most frequently, consistently, and intensely from the earliest stages of their lives. Your kids see your values in the words you use, the emotions you express, and the actions you take. As their parents, your children are immersed in your values 24/7.

At the same time, as your children grow older and they venture beyond your home, your influence declines and the impact of the broadening world around them grows. This emergence from your “womb” is realized in many ways including peers, school, and, in our case, the ski racing world that they begin to interact with and become a part of as their involvement in ski racing grows. These wider influences from ski racing occur at several levels.

At the most immediate level, teammates communicate a set of ski racing values that may or may not be consistent with your own. As children get older, the influence of their peers increases and, as a result, are vulnerable to the value messages from their teammates, even those that aren’t healthy. As any veteran ski racing parent knows, many young ski racers are overly focused on results from an early age (and guess where they get their values!).

At a higher level, coaches also convey value messages to your young ski racers because they set the tone, priorities, and goals of a team and have a “soap box” of authority and respect from which they can “preach” their values about ski racing. As with peers, those values may or may not be aligned with your own values.

At an even higher level, every ski racing program in which your children participate is imbued with a set of values that are a reflection of its leadership and culture. Those values might range from an emphasis on fun, mastery, and participation to winning and “survival of the fittest” development.

At the highest level, the broader ski racing culture, embodied by World Cup ski racing, exerts in an inordinate influence on young ski racers. Due to the idolatry that the world’s best ski racers are afforded by young ski racers and the desire of developing ski racers to emulate their heroes, your children may be particularly impressionable to the values that are expressed by this wider ski racing culture. Fortunately, unlike in many sports, these values are generally quite admirable and beneficial to your children’s healthy ski racing or personal development as exemplified by American stars such as Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety.

Given the impact of values on your children’s athletic experiences and the abundance of sources from which your young ski racers can be exposed to values about ski racing, both healthy and otherwise, it is incumbent upon you to ensure that your children are immersed in and encouraged to adopt values that you know to be healthy and life-affirming.

Healthy Ski Racing Values Begin with You
The value messages you send to your young racers as they immerse themselves in their early ski racing experiences become the foundation for the values that they will adopt as their ski racing experience deepens. The goals you communicate to your young racers for their ski racing involvement sends another powerful message to them about your values. When you tell them that your goal is for them to have fun, give their best effort, and be a great teammate, they see a very different set of values than, say, if your goals are to have them win, in the short term, and make the Olympics, in the long run.

The words you use to describe their ski racing participation should be laden with the values you want your young racers to absorb; for example, “You gave such a great effort out there!,” or “You looked like you were having so much fun today!”

Your emotional reactions to your children’s sport participation convey influential messages about values. Emotions are aspects of ourselves that we aren’t always aware or in control of. Yet your children, particularly when they are young, have highly calibrated radar that is attuned to your emotions, more so even than what you say to them. They can readily and powerfully sense your excitement, elation, and pride, as well as your disappointment, frustration, and anger. How do you feel after your children do poorly in a race? How do you feel when they have a great result? And are your emotional reactions consistent with the values you want to convey to them? An important focus as your children become more involved in ski racing is to monitor your emotions and ensure that they are reasonable and appropriate, and that they also send subtle messages that support the values you want your children to adopt about their ski racing experiences.

The choices you make in terms of the specific ski racing programs your children join also sends a powerful message to them. As you explore the options available to your kids, you want to ensure that the values espoused by the ski racing program you ultimately select support, rather than undermine, the values that you want your children to embrace through their athletic experiences. You can learn a lot about a ski racing program by examining its mission statement, talking to parents of current members, interviewing the coaches, observing training and watching races. As you do this “due diligence,” you can identify the value messages that are most dominant in the program’s culture and decide whether they align with your own. This process is especially important as your children become more involved in a sport and decide to strive for higher levels in the sport.

Talking directly to your young racers is another effective means of impressing healthy ski racing values on them. Depending on their age and maturity, you can discuss explicitly the values you want to them gain from their athletic experiences. In these conversations, you can share some of the values you deem important, define them so your children clearly understand the values, and then describe why they are important to you and to them. You can offer examples of healthy values to bring them into sharp relief with your kids. Very importantly, you can create a conversation with your children that allows them to identify and embrace the values that they believe to be healthiest. These self-generated values create even more connection with and ownership of their values.

Just providing your children with the opportunity to ski race is tremendous gift you give them. Yet, healthy values are an even greater gift that will keep on giving their entire lives.

Want to be the best ski-racing parent you can be? Check out my Prime Sport Parenting 505: Raise Successful and Happy Athletes online course.

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