IOC Adds Five New FIS Competitions to the Beijing 2022 Olympic Program

Today the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board in Lausanne, Switzerland, has announced that seven new competitions will join the Winter Olympic program for Beijing 2022, five of which are in the FIS disciplines.

The new FIS competitions confirmed to join the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games are:

  • Ski Jumping – mixed team
  • Freestyle Skiing – mixed team aerials
  • Freeski – big air (men’s and women’s)
  • Snowboard – mixed team snowboard cross

The Alpine Skiing program, with the proposal for the inclusion of the individual parallel event to replace the Alpine Combined, will be reviewed by the IOC Executive Board at the end of the year following the outcome of the Alpine Committee evaluation and FIS Council Meeting in November.

In addition to the FIS competitions, the IOC has added the Skating Short Track mixed team relay, while Bobsled will introduce mono-bob for women.

The FIS Congress 2018 decided to propose further competitions for inclusion on the Games program: nordic combined Ladies’ individual event, snowboard alpine mixed team parallel event, snowboard parallel slalom, and telemark parallel sprint, but they will not be on the program for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

The 15-member IOC Executive Board is meeting from July 18-20 with a full agenda, including the Winter Olympic program as one of the main topics. FIS President Gian Franco Kasper was present in his capacity as the representative of the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF).

Release courtesy of FIS.

Q&A With Italy’s Hanna Schnarf

With her fighting spirit and her positive attitude, Hanna Schnarf is an essential part of the Italian “Downhill Lions.” Our friends at FIS met with her to talk about her season and her thoughts about the future.

FIS: This season, you were able to celebrate your second World Cup podium of your career: a second place in the super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo. How were you feeling before the race, did you realize that you would achieve something big?

HS: Not really, it was a “normal” race day, I was nervous as always. I had bib number 1, which is not always easy, but I chose the right line and my instinct said it was the best one so I pushed hard.

Was it even more emotional to claim this podium in front of your home crowd?

Yes it was. All my family, my husband and a lot of friends were there to celebrate with me. My thoughts were also with my deceased dad, so yes it was a very special, emotional day.

Cortina is also the host of the World Championships in three years. Is this in your head?

No, I will be there for sure, but probably not as racer anymore!

Schnarf captured the second podium of her career last season on home snow in Cortina, Italy. Image Credit: GEPA Pictures/Christopher Klemen

Generally speaking, you have been quite unlucky at big events so far. You finished 4th only 0.09 seconds off the podium at the Olympics in Vancouver, had to sit out your home Olympics in Torino, missed the 2013 Schladming World Championships, got injured shortly before the World Champs in St. Moritz in 2017 and missed the podium by 0.05 seconds in PyeongChang 2018. Are there any regrets about your 5th place in the super-G in PyeongChang?

I was leading until the last intermediate time so of course, as a competitive athlete, I was disappointed, angry, and sad. I was so close but missed the opportunity. But I have no regrets. It was good skiing and one of my best performances this winter, right on point for the Olympics.

What does it take to lay down your best performance on the day?

It needs a good preparation, good people around you, a lot of determination but also serenity. You need to be quiet and certain that you did everything you could for this event. Of course it’s hard to put in practice and not so easy to calculate. Work. Dream. Do.

Are big events an additional motivation for your or does it just put more pressure on your season?

For sure it is a motivation. I always try to think step by step, race by race, but my mind is also focused on the big goal.

What are you anticipating the most about Are 2019?

I expect a great event. I like Are very much.

As in 2010 after a similar season, you were rewarded with the title of “Sudtirolean Sportsperson of the Year” again in 2018. How much of an honor was it to get this prize for the second time?

It was a great honor. We have a lot of outstanding athletes from different sports in Sudtirol. I did not expect to win this title again. I was really surprised and I am very thankful that so many people from my region stand behind me and support me.

Last summer you got married to the person who might be your greatest fan and is following you a lot on the World Cup. How important is the support from your husband?

Yes, after 12 years together we got married last summer. Alex’s support is very important for me. He is very patient and accepts my sport-travel life. Especially when I go through hard times, he is always there for me. He gives me balance and has good advice although he didn’t understand much about ski racing before we met. I really found the man of my life.

Schnarf narrowly missed an Olympic medal in super-G by only 0.05 seconds, finishing fifth. Image Credit: GEPA Pictures/Andreas Pranter

The retirement of your teammate and good friend Verena Stuffer was very emotional for you. Did it trigger a reflection about your own future?

Of course it made me think about my own future, and it’s always sad when a longtime teammate and friend is quitting after almost half of our lives together on this journey. I probably had more nights in the same room with Verena than with my husband! Especially after the big delusion of my ‘non nomination’ for the Olympic downhill, despite a top result in super-g, I reflected more about my future as a ski racer.

What made you take the decision to continue?

When I thought about it again at the end of the season, I didn’t feel like the time had come to retire and put it all down. I am a fighter and I am still very motivated. I know that I am competitive and I will keep on working to reach new goals. But first of all, and that’s very important in our sport, I still feel healty, in a good physical shape and I love what I am doing.

The Italian speed team is one of the strongest on the World Cup Tour, with seven athletes in the top 30 in downhill. What is your role within the team?

I would say that I am a team player and that my positive way is good for the team spirit. You can grow in a team. We have a strong team, we push each other and there is a very good energy on the team. I like to be in the group but at the same time I do my own thing and need my space from time to time.

When you’re not suffering from an injury, you are a very constant skier, with not less than 40 top 10 placements in the World Cup and very few DNFs. Is a discipline crystal medal or globe a goal of yours?

My goal is to improve my skiing, to consolidate my fastest skiing and to be constantly on top in both disciplines my favorite disciplines downhill and super-G. Then we will see what comes out.

On which discipline would you bet?

At the moment I feel better in super-G, but I would not bet!

Is confidence an important factor in your performance?

Confidence is fundamental for me and consequently for my performance.

Release courtesy of FIS.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Adds Two New Regional Coaches

U.S. Ski & Snowboard has hired two new alpine regional coaches, further reinforcing the organization’s renewed focus and commitment to alpine development as a result of findings from Project 26.

Mike Prado joins the Western Region, bringing 10 years of coaching experience including a stint with the women’s development team and more recently with Squaw Valley Ski Team as a FIS, U16, and U14 coach. Prior to that, Prado was a U.S. Navy Rescue Swimmer.

Brad Farrell joins the Eastern Region staff from the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club in Stowe, Vermont, and prior to that, Burke Mountain Academy – where he served as head men’s soccer coach and U16 and U19 men’s coach.

Prado and Farrell will bring new energy and a solid coaching background to their respective regions.

“The addition of Mike Prado and Brad Farrell bring two high-quality coaches to our regional staffs” noted alpine development director Chip Knight. “They are both very excited to make an impact in their respective regions. It’s important that we have great coaches at the regional level as we seek to reinforce connections between our clubs and the national team in our new development system. Mike and Brad will be working as part of a team with the development head coaches, Marjan Cernigoj and Sasha Rearick, to help bring athletes through regional programming to the Development Team and above.”

Both Prado and Farrell have started in their new roles, making an immediate impact alongside Cernigoj and Rearick, coaching nearly 50 athletes at the recent National Development Group camp hosted by Timberline Lodge Ski & Snowboard area in Mt. Hood, Oregon.

Release courtesy of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

New Certified U.S. Ski & Snowboard Center of Excellence Opens in South Lake Tahoe

U.S. Ski & Snowboard has a brand new certified Center of Excellence in South Lake Tahoe, California, providing state-of-the-art medical facilities to the elite team athletes based in that community, as well as the thousands of skiers and snowboarders who dream of future Olympic success.

The facility is part of a dream to improve community health and well-being at the Robert Maloff Center, located on the Barton Health medical campus in South Lake Tahoe. The 26,000 square foot state-of-the- art medical facility houses the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness, which breaks the mold of regional health care by combining orthopedics, rehabilitation, performance-based training programs and overall wellness therapies. This new model of care addresses the entire patient, not just illness or injury.

Made possible by a $10 million donation from the “Angel of Tahoe” Lisa Maloff, the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness, inside the Robert Maloff Center, focuses on coordinated care, integrated treatments and education, a philosophy known as the continuum of care. Here, the patient’s journey is guided by care navigators, tapping any or all of the services offered by health care providers and certified practitioners at the Center.

“The Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness’ innovation is something we’ve been conceptualizing for over a decade,” said Barton Health CEO Dr. Clint Purvance at the Center’s grand opening event on July 12, 2018. “Now, with the support of our community, stakeholders, team members and donors we are providing a healthcare system that offers our community a new model of care, tailored to their personal goals and health journey.”

Designed to improve the health of the community, the Center combines traditional orthopedic medical care with integrative medicine and wellness treatments such as acupuncture, mindfulness classes, nutrition counseling, as well as personalized rehabilitation and sports performance. This proactive approach not only gets the patient moving again, but back to their active lifestyle – whether competing in Olympic trials or day hiking with grandchildren.

While offering multiple services for the entire community, the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness is also a certified U.S. Ski & Snowboard Center of Excellence. This designation represents advanced credibility for elite and Olympic snowsports athletes, attracting local competitors such as Kyle Smaine, Lila Lapanja, and Travis Ganong.

“The Sierra Nevada is a hotbed of ski and snowboard sports, home to many elite athletes and more than 2,000 young skiers and snowboarders who represent the future generations of American Olympians,” said Luke Bodensteiner, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Chief of Sport. “The Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness gives them access to a world class facility and support to achieve their goals of competing.”

Barton Health’s orthopedic physicians are well-known in the area and around the world, as these doctors help residents keep up with mountain activities as well as providing medical care for the U.S. Ski Team. Barton has a deep history with providing orthopedic care for Olympians, going back to the 1960s when Dr. Paul Fry launched the first orthopedic treatment practice after the Winter Games at Squaw Valley. The Fry family donated $1 million for the installation of hot and cold therapy pools at the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness to carry on his legacy.

Release courtesy of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

Q&A With Swiss Star Melanie Meillard

Switerland’s rising star Melanie Meillard came on to the World Cup with a bang and enjoyed success after success before suffering a season-ending injury just prior to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Now, she’s well on her way back. Our friends at FIS asked her some questions about her past successes and also what lies ahead for the 19-year-old talent.

FIS: Since your Youth Olympic Champion title in 2016, we had you on the short list as a rising star. It didn’t last long until you proved what you are capable of on the World Cup Tour, as you scored an incredible 6th place in the slalom in Levi on the same year. You were 18, it was your 4th World Cup race. Did you expect such a good result at that point?

MM: Not at all! My goal was to enjoy and get some experience on the highest level. I hoped to qualify for the second run, but didn’t expect to finish sixth!

How did you feel when you crossed the finish line?

I was very surprised and couldn’t believe that I had achieved such a result. When I saw the timing board, I didn’t know how to react. It was new for me. I was so happy.

Did you realise what a huge step you had made?

Not really, not right away. But when I looked back later on, it was a milestone that changed a lot for the rest of the season. It also gave me a lot of self-confidence.

From then on, things moved very fast for you. You joined the World Cup training group and became a regular on the World Cup Tour. By the end of the season you had cracked the Top 30 Overall, finishing 10th of the slalom standings and 20th in giant slalom. How was the integration into this new environment?

I had to learn a lot as the races went on, but it was very interesting and the integration to my new team wasn’t a problem at all.

There is a lot happening around skiing on the World Cup tour, was it easy for you to adapt to all these additional duties?

I can’t say that it was easy, but I was very well taken care of, so I could adapt quickly. Of course, it’s very different from the European Cup. On the World Cup tour there are bib draws, interviews, oversea travels, etc., but it’s a matter of being well organized to optimize every moment.

What did you like the most in your new life?

I like to travel, to discover new places and to do what I love in different ski resorts.

On New Year’s day of 2018, you claimed your first World Cup podium in the City Event in Oslo. What went through your mind when you were at the start of the small final racing for a World Cup podium?

I tried to stay calm, not to put additional pressure on my shoulders. I told myself that it was already huge to be in the semi-finals. But I had the opportunity to claim my first World Cup podium, so I had to push hard and give all I have to reach my goal.

Meillard captured her first World Cup podium in Oslo this January. Image Credit: GEPA Pictures/Andreas Pranter

How was it to see the green light at the bottom and realise that you made it?

When I passed the finish line and saw the green light, a dream came true. I had my first podium of my career.

You had to compete against your teammate Wendy Holdener in the semi-final and against local hero Frida Hansdotter in the fight for third place. Was it more intimidating or motivating?

It was a great motivation for me to know that I could keep up with them.

What makes you strong in this particular discipline?

To have a skier just next to me on a parallel course is pushing me to catch up with her if I’m late or to keep pushing if I know she’s behind. It makes me go even faster.

In this meteoric rise, you qualified for your first Olympic Games. But shortly before the Opening Ceremony in PyeongChang, you injured yourself in giant slalom training, tearing your ACL and damaging your meniscus. A brutal fall. How did the accident happen?

It was on our first training day in Korea. In my second run, around the middle of the course. I made a mistake, got into the backseat, and fell in a rotation. Then I slid backwards into the nets, feeling a huge pain in my knee.

How big was the disappointment and how did you cope with it?

It was very hard, a huge disappointment to get injured right before my first Olympic Winter Games. I was very sad. I had guilt feeling and asked myself a lot of questions. But anyway, it was as it was and I couldn’t change anything to the fact that I had torn my ACL, so I tried to look on the bright side of things. But for sure it wasn’t easy.

Are you alright now, able to look ahead again? 

Yes, I’m better now. It’s still too early to say when I will be able to compete again, but slowly I start to be able to look ahead and see that it’s possible to come back strong.

What is the timeline in your rehabilitation process?

A few weeks after my surgery, my dryland coach, my physiotherapist, my doctor, my coaches and I made a schedule for my rehabilitation. I started with lots of physiotherapy to recover as good as possible from the surgery. Then, after six weeks, I slowly started to train again in the gym. Along the way, we adapted the rehab to how my knee could cope with it.

You are still young, we have no doubt that you will comeback from this injury and earn many more podiums and medals. What will you focus on when you’ll be back on skis?

The goal is to find confidence again and to control all my movements. I focus on being able to train and ski without pain.

The young Swiss hopes to find her form as soon as possible this coming season. Image Credit: GEPA Pictures/Mathias Mandl

Did you set any concrete goals already?

I would like to come back at the level I had before my injury.

What are your overall career goals as a skier?

I dream about a medal at a big event (Olympic Winter Games or World Championships) and claim a crystal globe. But it’s a long way and I’m just at the beginning of my career.

You and your brother Loic, who is performing well in slalom and giant slalom on the World Cup, are following the same career. Is there a family secret that makes the Meillards so strong?

There is no secret. We’ve always been very involved in sports and when we want something we do everything to reach our goal.

What do you think were the key points in your education that led to this success?

When we were kids, we were very active together with our parents. We skied a lot and practiced many other sports as well. This was very helpful later on.

Is it a healthy rivalry between the two of you?

There is no reality or jealousy between us. We are always happy when the other one has a good result. Also, we know that we can count on each other if anything is not working well.

Release courtesy of FIS.

Stockholm Prepared for 2019 World Cup on the Heels of Are World Championships

Members of the World Cup Stockholm organizing committee and city officials met with FIS staff on July 4 at the site of the 2019 event at Hammarbybacken to establish a plan for preparing the race slope and arena and tackling other organizational logistics in the upcoming season.

The 2019 event is scheduled on the heels of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden, and the organizing committees of both events are one in the same, making for a tight turnaround to Stockholm.

The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships conclude in Are on 17 February 2019 with the Stockholm World Cup city event following on February 19. Are 2019 Event Director Kaj Linde, Sport Director Anders Sundqvist, and Assistant Sports Director Hans Olsson met with FIS Ladies’ Chief Race Director Atle Skaardal, Technical Race Director Markus Mayer, Technical Operations Manager Andi Kroenner, and Media Coordinator Christine Feehan to establish a plan for covering all emerging needs at both venues as they will arise simultaneously.

“I think we have a good plan in place to ensure thorough coverage at both venues with our crew from the team event wrapping up in Are on Tuesday (February 12) and heading down here to Stockholm immediately,” said Linde. “We’re also using completely different supplying vendors for the two events, so there will be no problem with coordinating that piece.”

The past and future success of the Stockholm city event could complement the Swedish capital’s Olympic bid for the 2026 Games. The race currently appears on the long-term World Cup calendar through the 2020-21 season. FIS also sees great potential in the city event continuing in Stockholm at the SkiStar venue for years to come.

“We think this is a great event to hold in places like Stockholm and also other major cities around the world,” noted Skaardal. “Alpine skiing typically occurs high in the mountains, but we want our sport to also be attractive for fans in big cities.”

Packed grandstands at the Stockholm World Cup over the past three seasons have demonstrated the local appreciation for this event, and city officials are also on board to support it in future editions as well.

Swedish fans will no doubt turn out in droves to watch their 2018 Olympic slalom gold medallists, Frida Hansdotter and Andre Myhrer, battle it out under the lights at Hammarbybacken on February 19, 2019.

Release courtesy of FIS.

Hannes Reichelt and the Role of the FIS Athletes’ Representative

Austria’s Hannes Reichelt is not only one of the fastest human beings on two skis, but also a member of the FIS Athletes’ Commission, representing the racers at the different FIS committee meetings. The position is not an easy task for the 13-time World Cup winner, but a responsibility he assumes and appreciates none the less. FIS caught up with the Austrian star and talked about his role more in depth in the Q&A below.

FIS: What’s your role as the athletes’ representative?
HR: I’m the liaison between the athletes and the other stakeholders of the alpine World Cup. My role is to collect the opinion of the racers on different topics, to filter and summarize, and then to present the results to the various committees where I have a vote.

How do you collect the feedback?
We used to do an athlete survey in the past, but this season, for the first time, we had an actual meeting with the top 20 in the speed disciplines in Kvitfjell. Markus Waldner and Hannes Trinkl from FIS were also present. It was a great opportunity to discuss important topics together. Unfortunately, as I am an active ski racer, I didn’t have a chance to physically meet with the tech athletes, but of course I’ve consulted tech athletes and got feedback from them as well. Even if it doesn’t make my work easier, I think it’s important to be an active skier to represent the athletes. It’s the only way to be close to the sport and fully concerned by what’s happening on the World Cup Tour.

In general, do the athletes come to an agreement easily or are the opinions diverging?
It can be difficult to have a clear voice from the athletes as everyone has different opinions on some topics. But I would only forward issues that are common to a clear majority of the athletes. Most proposals I’ve presented at the FIS Congress were agreed to by 100% of the athletes; the other proposals were around 75%.

Do you have the feeling that the committees listen to the athletes and understand their situation?
The athletes are understood, but that’s not always enough for the committees to take actions. Often the proposals are tabled and to be discussed later on. This is a pity, because some topics would be easy to put into practice. I wish we had more support and that the willingness to make a change was bigger, especially when all athletes have the same opinion.

There are many different interests in the World Cup, how do you handle all this?
Exactly. World Cup organizers, TV rights holders, and athletes are all linked to a National Ski Association, but quite often they don’t have the same opinion. I’m not always agreeing to the proposals made by the Austrian Ski Federation. But in my position as the athletes’ representative, I fight for their rights and in our common goal to make the sport more appealing, I will do my best to make sure that the athletes are treated in a fair way.

Two years ago, the athletes’ commission got a vote in the FIS Council, the highest decision level. How important was this?
This was a huge step. It’s very important that the athletes have a voice at every level. This year, a proposal was made to have two athletes voting in the FIS Council, one male and one female, and it was accepted. To have two representatives, one of each gender, strengthens the athletes’ voice even more and I’m very happy about this.

Referring to this particular FIS Congress, what was the biggest step for the alpine athletes?
First of all, I think it was very important to be present here at the FIS Congress. Even if no major change was made, I think I could open the eyes of some organisers and sports directors on how the athletes see their sport and which direction they would like to go. It was important for me to show that the athletes are not happy with the starting order in the speed disciplines, that the prize money should be raised and that it’s not fair that speed skiers don’t get an opportunity to race in City Events. The proposals have all been tabled or rejected, but it’s crucial to make our voice heard. The one thing that is actually moving in the right direction is that the draft calendars that were presented for the future are getting more and more balanced.

How difficult is it for you on a personal level to be active as a speed ski racer and on the political level of FIS?
The time investment is huge to cover both engagements, and sometimes it’s hard to be 100 percent objective. I’m standing for all the athletes, but if something is not fair, I will always try to defend the category that is weaker and at the moment it seems to be the speed side. The balancing act between the sportsman and the spokesman is not always easy, but the main goal is always to be fair and objective. Also, it is a little frustrating to see how slowly things are moving in the FIS committees. I hope that in the future we’ll be able to react faster to keep our sport on a high level.

Release courtesy of FIS.

Hannes Reichelt and the Role of the FIS Athletes’ Representative

Austria’s Hannes Reichelt is not only one of the fastest human beings on two skis, but also a member of the FIS Athletes’ Commission, representing the racers at the different FIS committee meetings. The position is not an easy task for the 13-time World Cup winner, but a responsibility he assumes and appreciates none the less. FIS caught up with the Austrian star and talked about his role more in depth in the Q&A below.

FIS: What’s your role as the athletes’ representative?
HR: I’m the liaison between the athletes and the other stakeholders of the alpine World Cup. My role is to collect the opinion of the racers on different topics, to filter and summarize, and then to present the results to the various committees where I have a vote.

How do you collect the feedback?
We used to do an athlete survey in the past, but this season, for the first time, we had an actual meeting with the top 20 in the speed disciplines in Kvitfjell. Markus Waldner and Hannes Trinkl from FIS were also present. It was a great opportunity to discuss important topics together. Unfortunately, as I am an active ski racer, I didn’t have a chance to physically meet with the tech athletes, but of course I’ve consulted tech athletes and got feedback from them as well. Even if it doesn’t make my work easier, I think it’s important to be an active skier to represent the athletes. It’s the only way to be close to the sport and fully concerned by what’s happening on the World Cup Tour.

In general, do the athletes come to an agreement easily or are the opinions diverging?
It can be difficult to have a clear voice from the athletes as everyone has different opinions on some topics. But I would only forward issues that are common to a clear majority of the athletes. Most proposals I’ve presented at the FIS Congress were agreed to by 100% of the athletes; the other proposals were around 75%.

Do you have the feeling that the committees listen to the athletes and understand their situation?
The athletes are understood, but that’s not always enough for the committees to take actions. Often the proposals are tabled and to be discussed later on. This is a pity, because some topics would be easy to put into practice. I wish we had more support and that the willingness to make a change was bigger, especially when all athletes have the same opinion.

There are many different interests in the World Cup, how do you handle all this?
Exactly. World Cup organizers, TV rights holders, and athletes are all linked to a National Ski Association, but quite often they don’t have the same opinion. I’m not always agreeing to the proposals made by the Austrian Ski Federation. But in my position as the athletes’ representative, I fight for their rights and in our common goal to make the sport more appealing, I will do my best to make sure that the athletes are treated in a fair way.

Two years ago, the athletes’ commission got a vote in the FIS Council, the highest decision level. How important was this?
This was a huge step. It’s very important that the athletes have a voice at every level. This year, a proposal was made to have two athletes voting in the FIS Council, one male and one female, and it was accepted. To have two representatives, one of each gender, strengthens the athletes’ voice even more and I’m very happy about this.

Referring to this particular FIS Congress, what was the biggest step for the alpine athletes?
First of all, I think it was very important to be present here at the FIS Congress. Even if no major change was made, I think I could open the eyes of some organisers and sports directors on how the athletes see their sport and which direction they would like to go. It was important for me to show that the athletes are not happy with the starting order in the speed disciplines, that the prize money should be raised and that it’s not fair that speed skiers don’t get an opportunity to race in City Events. The proposals have all been tabled or rejected, but it’s crucial to make our voice heard. The one thing that is actually moving in the right direction is that the draft calendars that were presented for the future are getting more and more balanced.

How difficult is it for you on a personal level to be active as a speed ski racer and on the political level of FIS?
The time investment is huge to cover both engagements, and sometimes it’s hard to be 100 percent objective. I’m standing for all the athletes, but if something is not fair, I will always try to defend the category that is weaker and at the moment it seems to be the speed side. The balancing act between the sportsman and the spokesman is not always easy, but the main goal is always to be fair and objective. Also, it is a little frustrating to see how slowly things are moving in the FIS committees. I hope that in the future we’ll be able to react faster to keep our sport on a high level.

Release courtesy of FIS.

NYSEF Expands Programming to Belleayre Mountain

The New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) is excited to announce its
growing partnership with the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) by offering competitive alpine and freeride programming at Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in Highmount, N.Y.

Managed by ORDA since 2012, Belleayre is conveniently located approximately two-and-a-half hours from the greater New York City area in the Catskill Mountains. The mountain offers challenging terrain to accommodate skiers and riders of varying levels with 51 trails and eight lifts. In 2017, Belleayre installed a gondola to the summit, expanding uphill capacity while offering a unique lift in the Catskills.

NYSEF plans to serve over 75 youth athletes in the 2018-2019 season through this expansion.

“We’re excited to expand our reach by taking advantage of the excellent training and competition venues at Belleayre,” said John Norton, NYSEF Executive Director. “Competitive snowsports are our primary focus in our relationship with ORDA. With their continued support and ongoing venue improvements (at Belleayre), we have an opportunity to bring more young athletes into the sport and provide a pathway to national and international competition.”

With this expansion comes new leadership. NYSEF is excited to announce the appointment of Jim Catalano as Program Director of NYSEF-Belleayre.

“I am thrilled to be back in the heart of the Catskills and eager to bring high level coaching and athlete management to NYSEF-Belleayre,” Catalano said.

Jim Catalano Image Credit: NYSEF

From 2000-2013, Catalano was the Program Director and Head Coach at Hunter Mountain. While at Hunter, Catalano coached FIS level athletes and mentored several staff members. Catalano recently coached at Killington Mountain School where he trained some of the top U14s in the state of Vermont.

However, his love for the Catskills brought him back home to New York. Catalano lives in Hurley, N.Y. with his family and actively competes on the cycling circuit in the Northeast.

Catalano is motivated to build the NYSEF-Belleayre program by offering athletes the opportunity to develop their competitive snowsport careers with professional coaching and excellent training environments.

“The terrain and atmosphere are ideal to develop the necessary skill sets and culture for a very strong program,” Catalano added.

“We’ve found the ideal candidate to lead NYSEF-Belleayre in Jim,” said Norton. “His passion and experience in ski racing along with his love for the area make him perfect for the job.”

NYSEF is a certified Gold Club of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard, the national governing body of alpine and freeride competition in the United States. Certified clubs are expected to engage in ongoing evaluation and are encouraged commit to their missions and the athletes they serve. With this new expansion to Belleayre, NYSEF demonstrates their commitment to providing programs that help young athletes develop athletically and emotionally, with a strong sense of self-discipline and work ethic.

“Belleayre is a great opportunity for NYSEF and in partnership with ORDA, we look forward to expanding our program offerings to include Belleayre in alpine and freeride,” said Chairman of NYSEF, Greg Harden. “Many great athletes come from the greater New York City area and Belleayre is a venue that produces a lot of great skiers and riders.”

In the late 60’s, despite the fact that New York State had more ski areas than any other state in the nation, ski racing was an afterthought. Young athletes were faced with an ultimatum as they progressed – either leave the sport or leave New York State and compete in New England. Unified by a vision of offering athletes in the Empire State the opportunity to train with an elite coaching staff on world class terrain, NYSEF was born. With the addition of Belleayre, NYSEF has since grown to include six disciplines, now five training venues and over 500 athletes, some of whom have gone on to medal in the Winter Olympic Games.

Mike Pratt, CEO of ORDA said, “Belleayre is a tremendous ski area,” said Mike Pratt, CEO of ORDA. “Families are attracted to the terrain and the new gondola has transformed the experience. The cooperative efforts of NYSEF and ORDA to improve the programs at Belleayre will be appreciated by the families of skiers and riders.”

NYSEF and ORDA will be working together this summer to plan the details of the Belleayre program for the 2018-2019 season.

Release courtesy of NYSEF.

Austrian Men’s Slalom Team Trains in Leogang

Austrians Manuel Feller, Michael Matt, Marco Schwarz, and Christian Hirschbuehl completed an intensive conditioning and strength training camp last week at the Hotel Forsthofgut in Leogang, Austria. In mid-August, the training group led by Coach Marko Pfeifer travels to the first on-snow training camp of the season in New Zealand.

“At the moment I feel better than I have in a long time,” said Feller after the training block. “In summer the condition training is not always so funny, but nevertheless it is the prerequisite for the winter.”

PyeongChang 2018 teammate and slalom bronze medalist Matt is also in the thick of the sweaty preparation.

“Hard training is just part of our job and homework has to be done,” he said. “In the spring it was more stressful due to some appointments than in the past, but I cannot buy anything with my medal in the coming season.”

In mid-August the Austrian slalom skiers travel to New Zealand for a joint training camp. For Schwarz, it is an important part of the preparation.

“If you are tormented every day during the condition training you are looking forward to the snow training again,” Schwarz said. “Time in New Zealand is extremely important to me. There you can drive very large volumes and, moreover, the snow is very similar to ours in Austria. ”

Also in training is the 28-year-old Hirschbuehl. “I have set myself no fixed goals for the coming season,” he said. “I want to get better in every single area and then I am very confident. Until we fly to New Zealand, I want to have done most of the confectionary training.”

Marc Digruber was missing from the joint training course in Leogang. He and his wife are expecting their first child together in the coming days.

Release courtesy of the Austrian Ski Federation (OSV).

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