World Pro Ski Tour announces 3-event schedule for 2018

The World Pro Ski Tour will host three events in the 2018 winter season at Waterville Valley, N.H., Sunday River, Maine, and a to-be-announced resort. These events will be one of the only opportunities to witness a field of Olympians, national champions and NCAA champions in the U.S. as they face off side by side in dual slalom action. The White Mountain Dual Challenge at Waterville Valley will be held Feb. 8-10 and the Visit Maine Pro Ski Championships at Sunday River will conclude the World Pro Ski Tour schedule March 29-31.

“We are thrilled to expand the World Pro Ski Tour schedule to three events this winter to create more opportunity for ski racers from across the globe. The American ski community is craving more events to see their idols go head to head in dual slalom, the most exciting alpine race format, which will also make its debut in the South Korea Olympics,” said Ed Rogers, president of the World Pro Ski Tour. “Our official partners Maine Office of Tourism, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Greenhead Lobster are making it possible to grow from a Sunday River event to Waterville Valley and other areas of the U.S.”

In March of 2017, the Pro Ski Challenge at Sunday River brought top American and Canadian athletes to Maine for the first pro tour dual race in the U.S. in almost twenty years. Top ranked American slalom skier and four-time national champion David Chodounsky defeated 2017 U.S. and Canadian national slalom champion AJ Ginnis to take the $10,000 grand prize at Sunday River. Top North American racers will face off with challengers from Europe, South America and other areas of the world in three events to become the 2018 World Pro Ski Tour champion.

“Sunday River is thrilled to welcome back the World Pro Ski Tour,” Dana Bullen, resort president and general manager for Sunday River, said. “Last year’s event brought back to life exciting, world-class competition in one of the most spectator friendly formats imaginable, and Sunday River is excited to be able to offer this great event to our guests once again.”

Waterville Valley Resort has been host to dozens of alpine World Cups throughout the last 50 years, most recently in 1991.

“The excitement of ski racing has always been a part of Waterville Valley Resort’s heritage and now to be in a period of significant growth and to be bringing back an event like the World Pro Ski Tour is really exciting,” said Tim Smith, president and general manager of the New Hampshire ski area. “Personally, I am thrilled to be hosting this event here at Waterville Valley Resort because I grew up watching it with my dad and thinking it was so cool.”

On-site spectators will be treated with sponsored experiences and the unique chance to mingle and ski with Olympians from across the world.

Release from the World Pro Ski Tour

Former Canadian coach sentenced to 12 years in prison

Bertrand Charest, a former coach for the Canadian national junior ski team, the Quebec Ski Team, Team Laurentians and the Mont-Tremblant Ski Club, was convicted of 37 charges related to sexual assault in June and sentenced to 12 years in prison on Friday. Seven years and 10 months remain in his sentence after subtracting time served.

According to CBC, Charest, 52, was found guilty of charges including sexual assault and sexual exploitation for the abuse of athletes he coached between 1991 and 1998. The nine victims who came forward were girls and young women between ages 12 and 18 at the time of the offenses. He has been detained since being arrested in March 2015.

Quebec court Judge Sylvain Lépine did not hold back when discussing Alpine Canada’s failure to protect its athletes. He said the organization chose to close its eyes to what the athletes were saying about Charest and failed in its role as protector, according to CBC.

In a statement, the Chair of the Board of Alpine Canada Martha Hall Findlay, said, “Today, after a long and very difficult time for the victims and families, Bertrand Charest was sentenced to 12 years in prison, for things that he did over 20 years ago. But at the time, instead of being there for the athletes, instead of providing support when these activities were discovered, Alpine Canada put itself first, not the victims. In doing so, Alpine Canada failed them. More than 20 years on, I want to say, personally and on behalf of Alpine Canada, that we are profoundly sorry.”

Findlay said Alpine Canada has since changed its policies and procedures to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. It is issues like this that lead to the creation for SafeSport, an effort between U.S. Ski & Snowboard and the U.S. Olympic Committee. Opened this past March, the program was born out of a need for an independent body that could receive claims of abuse and investigate them outside of any influence or conflict of interest from a particular team, individual, or organization.

Apply for the Berlack/Astle Memorial Fast Skier Award

World Cup Supply, Inc. and 1to3go are now accepting applications for the 9th Annual Berlack/Astle Memorial Fast Skier Award. This season, the application deadline will be April 1, 2018, with the recipients announced in early May. They suggest all coaches, program directors and academy headmasters to encourage their U16 athletes to apply.

Both Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle achieved notable success in racing and were likely on their way to becoming full members of the U.S. Ski Team. Like most, their success was a result of hard work, countless hours of training and a desire to be the fastest athlete on the hill on any given day.

The most recent Berlack/Astle Awards went to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Kaitlyn Harsh and Matthieu Côté from the Northwood School in Lake Placid.

As with prior years, the Berlack/Astle Award will recognize dedication, talent, skill, personal integrity and a passion for ski racing. Academic achievement and community involvement remain important factors in the selection process as well. Once again, two awards will be offered, one each to a deserving male and female alpine ski racer, U16 athletes during the 2017-2018 season, who exhibit the personal characteristics required for success both on and off the hill. Each winner will receive a minimum cash prize of $1,000 and an assortment of swag donated by our participating sponsors including POC and Nordica.

“It’s important to keep the spirit of Bryce and Ronnie alive and the award is a fitting way to do that,” said World Cup Supply CEO Brad Williams. “Ski racing can make great kids, but great kids make ski racing. We look for great kids on and off of snow. We hope to be able to increase the amount of the award again this year through an online auction of some pretty cool World Cup swag. We see it as a way for the community to be a part of the support we provide these great kids.”

“The mission with the Berlack/Astle Fast Skier Award always remained consistent over the past 8 years, to continue to support a grassroots program starting with highly motivated and engaged U16 athletes as they work towards the U.S. Ski Team and possible collegiate, World Cup and Olympic-level competition,” noted Barry Levinson co-founder of the award. “The support we also receive from many U.S. Ski Team athletes and suppliers such as Mikaela Shiffrin and Atomic, who both generously autograph and supply a wide variety of products for our annual eBay auctions, which start this December continue to help advance the value of the award.”

Interested U16 athletes can access the application here.
Release courtesy of World Cup Supply

Death in our ski racing family

Ski racing is a family to me, big and close-knit. Like any family, we disagree often, squabble periodically, and fight occasionally. Yet the ties that bind are strong: our passion for our sport, the joy in being in the mountains, the adrenaline rush of speed, the satisfaction of mastery, and, as the saying goes, the shared “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

That is why a death in our family is so devastating and so painful; we feel that we’ve lost one of our parents, siblings, or children. It doesn’t matter whether we knew them personally, by name, or not at all. And, sadly, we have had two deaths in our family in the last month. First, the loss of the French veteran speed skier David Poisson in a downhill training crash at Nakiska, Canada, in November. By all accounts, Poisson was loved and respected by everyone in our ski racing family who knew him.

And then, much closer for me, the death of Max Burkhart, a 17-year-old German skier who was in his first year as a member of the Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy for which my daughters race, and I am on their Board of Trustees. I had only met Max twice, first when he interviewed for admission to SBA when I was the co-Acting Head for two months in the spring and then early this fall during parents’ weekend. I sensed immediately a passion and joy in him and knew that he would fit right in at SBA. Max had only been at the academy for a few months, but the word was that he blended in quickly and was well liked by all for his intelligence, determination, and good cheer.

Floyd should always be prepared #bavariaisalwayswithme 😉😂🥊

A post shared by M A X B U R K H A R T (@m.burkhart) on Aug 27, 2017 at 7:15am PDT

Ski racing a sport that has its risks. The speed, the demands placed on the body, and the physical obstacles that present themselves put everyone who slides into the starting gate in harm’s way. It is rare for anyone in ski racing for any length of time to leave the sport unscathed. It seems as if broken bones and torn ACLs are simply a right of passage for any racer deeply committed to going down a mountain and around gates as fast as they can.

Despite those risks, racers rarely think about death. Yet, it is certainly not unheard of in our sport. In my 50 years in our sport, as the esteemed late Hank McKee described in an article in 2015, athletes in our sport die, if not frequently, at least with painful regularity. The deaths usually result from racers sustaining a traumatic injury from a crash (usually in a speed event) from which the best medical care could not help them to recover.

I’ve had many ski racers come to see me professionally because of a fear of injury. I’m either able to help them set their fears aside so they can pursue their ski racing dreams, or they realize that the risks aren’t worth it and choose another path in their lives. Ultimately, every racer must accept the risks and either choose or choose not to fling themselves down the hill at high speed.

Injuries are understandable, and they usually heal. Death is inexplicable and final.

I’ve never worked with or known a racer who feared death. Perhaps it’s the “arrogance of youth” that leads to the belief that young athletes are invincible (this feeling certainly fades as you get older). Maybe ski racers self select and only those with the innate and learned courage to face the challenges and risks remain in our sport. Regardless, the concern for death rarely crosses the border of our ski racing psyches. Except when death forces us to look hard at it and make a decision about whether to fight or flee. The pain of David and Max’s deaths has certainly raised that specter in the young racers I’ve talked to in the last few days. Yet, I have not heard one of them say, “Enough. It’s not worth it.”

And since their deaths, racers from entry-level FIS to the World Cup continue to wake up on race-day morning and confront the challenges that lie ahead. They continue to slide into the starting gate, look those dangers in the eye, and then proceed to throw caution to the wind and hurl themselves down the mountain. These racers are somehow able to ignore the dangers, compartmentalize them, or rationalize them away (“It was a freak accident. It couldn’t happen to me.”). The mind is a powerful instrument and we have the ability, through cognitive bias, self-deception, and just plain willful ignorance, to put out of our minds that which conflicts with our most basic wants and goals. Simply put, they are able to just accept that, in ski racing, “S&%# happens, but it probably won’t happen to me.” I admire them for their youthful courage and for their ability to not get overwhelmed by the fragility in life.

That is not so easy for the “grown-ups in the room;” the coaches who are responsible for the health and safety of the ski racers and their parents who love them dearly and who can feel helpless and afraid as they watch their children race down the mountain. Having spent more years on this planet and having gained the experience and wisdom and, yes, pain, that comes with age, we adults are much more acutely aware of our own mortality, that of those most dear to us, and the capriciousness of life.

Over the past few days, I have been sure to give my daughters extra hugs, kisses, and “I love yous” (I must confess that I haven’t told them about Max’s death yet). And I have certainly asked myself whether I want my daughters to continue ski racing. My wife, Sarah, who was not a ski racer, asked me the same thing. Oddly, probably not unlike ski racers themselves (once a ski racer, always a ski racer?), I too go through a variety of psychological and emotional gymnastics to justify to myself and to Sarah why they should keep racing. I suggest that, statistically speaking, there are far more dangers in their every day lives than there is in ski racing. It is more risky to drive to the mountains than it is to ski race. I argue that the benefits of ski racing far outweigh the risks. And, as I’m sure every parent can attest, how can we not support our kids’ passions and determination to the fullest extent possible. Though, admittedly, I may draw the line at downhill!

Perhaps this remarkable ability to accept the dangers and focus on the benefits of ski racing comes from our implicit sense that to surrender to fear, even of something as catastrophic and final as death, is to surrender to life and all that it has to offer. Because maybe a life without risk is really just a living death and it’s much better to live life to its fullest and accept the possibility of death than to live a life that is void of, well, life and to not experience the wide range of feelings that, in my view, makes life worth living, whether excitement, pride, inspiration, and joy or anger, frustration, sadness, or hurt.

Whenever we are confronted by death of any sort, we humans have a tremendous capacity to ignore it. Why? Perhaps it is hard wired into us through evolution to ensure our survival. Or maybe, and I’m going to go all Descarte here, it’s comes from our very human ability to think, reason, reflect, analyze, and explain that provides us with the capacity to be philosophical about how we deal with life and death. And that enables us to keep not only soldiering on through life, but actually embracing all that it has to offer, both in happiness and sorrow.

All I know right now is that I will allow myself to grieve for that part of myself that died with Max, for the Burkhart family, for my Sugar Bowl family, and for our big and wonderful ski racing family. Then, I will get into our trusty Highlander with my family, drive up to Donner Summit, and, upon arrival, revel in the greatest pleasure that my life offers me as a husband, father, and former ski racer, namely, living the ski racing life with those I love the most.

I hope everyone of you who is a member of this incredible, worldwide ski racing family will find your own way to grieve for Max in his death and to honor him in the life he led and in the dreams he pursued.

Fog postpones St. Moritz alpine combined

A thick fog layer enveloped the race slope in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Friday for the women’s alpine combined. Initially slated to start with the super-G leg in the morning, organizers made the decision to reverse the schedule and begin racing with the slalom run. After completing the morning’s slalom run, the weather had not cleared in time for a safe run of super-G.

“Due to fog in the lower section of the course, the jury together with the organizer decided to cancel today’s super-G,” said an official communication from the FIS.

The standings after the slalom portion saw American Mikaela Shiffrin setting the pace by 0.39 seconds over slalom rival and reigning alpine combined World Champion Wendy Holdener of Switzerland. The rest of the field found themselves over a second adrift after a high-speed slalom run with plenty of tricky terrain to catch racers off guard.

According to the FIS, the results of Saturday’s regular super-G race will be used to calculate the final combined results.

Racing action continues in St. Moritz on Saturday and Sunday with a pair of women’s super-G races scheduled to take place.

Fans can stay up to date on World Cup by  downloading the U.S. Ski Team – Ski Racing app for iOS and Android.

Vonn will ‘represent the people of the United States, not the president’ in PyeongChang

American ski star Lindsey Vonn got political this week in an interview with CNN’s Christina Macfarlane, where she talked about the Olympic Winter Games, President Donald Trump and what it means to race under the U.S. flag.

“I take the Olympics very seriously and what they mean and what they represent, what walking under our flag means in the opening ceremony,” she told CNN. “I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Macfarlane followed up by asking if she would accept an invitation to the White House as a Team USA athlete.

“Absolutely not,” said Vonn. “No. But I have to win to be invited. No, actually I think every U.S. team member is invited, so no, I won’t go.”

Vonn met former President Obama in 2014 at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and also made an appearance at the White House with then-boyfriend Tiger Woods that same year. The American was also seen taking pictures with former President George W. Bush at the 2013 Presidents Cup golf tournament in Dublin, Ohio, so she’s no stranger to meeting political figures. Vonn is hoping to compete in her fourth Olympic Winter Games this February in PyeongChang.

Behind The Gold: Dominating Birds of Prey

As downhill racers go, Daron Rahlves was physically small but big in stature – a bold, smart risk taker who loved speed. December 3, 2004 – Rahlves stood atop the Birds of Prey downhill in Beaver Creek. He was running 31st – a late starter. At the bottom, Bode Miller had the lead. ‘D’ tapped his poles, slid his Atomics under the start wand and listened for the telltale beep, beep, beep of the clock. He was off, charging down the elevated start out onto the Flyway. In just under a minute, 40 seconds, he would be part of American ski racing history. But would he repeat the title he won the year before?

In the mid-2000s, Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves ruled the legendary Birds of Prey. Over four straight years, it was either Bode or Daron atop the downhill podium. From 2002 to 2011, they racked up six wins and 13 podiums at the Colorado resort.

The downhill is where ski racing legends are made. The relentless off-camber high speed pitches of the Hahnenkamm where Buddy Werner’s 1959 win put American skiing on the map. The thigh-burning two-and-a-half minutes of the Lauberhorn where Rahlves and Miller won three straight.

Birds of Prey has its own unique character – the flats of the Flyway into the perilous Brink. The sweeping turns through Pump House. The high speed jumps: Harrier into Golden Eagle, through the Abyss and rocketing off Red Tail into the bowels of the stadium with 10,000 screaming fans.

Birds of Prey made its maiden flight in 1997. Just over a year later, it was showcased at the 1999 Worlds where Austrian legend Hermann Maier took double gold and started a string of six straight speed wins.

The 1999 Worlds were bleak for the USA. A turning point came in 2001 when Rahlves crashed the party at the 2001 Worlds in St. Anton, beating the Austrians with super G gold. Soon, Rahlves and Miller starting cracking the code. The next December, Miller shook off a St. Anton knee injury to start a string of World Cup wins – first Val d’Isere, later the night race at Schladming on the eve of the 2002 Olympics and the glacier race at Soelden in October, 2003.

A few weeks later, Miller won a pivotal World Cup in Park City. That win on home snow ignited an unprecedented period of success for the U.S. Ski Team. “Park City was a rallying cry for the team,” recalled coach Phil McNichol. “They were intoxicated by it.”

A week later, an inspired Rahlves got his first Beaver Creek win while Miller lost a battle with his nemesis in the Abyss. “Daron elevated our entire approach to Birds of Prey,” said McNichol. “The flood gates were opened!”

Now, a year later, it was Rahlves versus Miller again. Early-starting Bryan Friedman came down fifth to take the lead. Racer after racer attacked and no one could touch Friedman who celebrated in the leader’s box.

Then, it was Miller time. Starting 17th, he sliced through the course in Bode style. Instead of carving sweeping turns he attacked the gates with a direct line. He soared off Golden Eagle arms outstretched. He crushed his demons in the Abyss, vaulting off Red Tail to the delight of the fans in 1:39.76 – just off Rahlves’ record set a year earlier.

America stood 1-2 once again with Rahlves still to come.

Out of the start Rahlves knew that the Flyway was critical for him. He didn’t have the large body mass that equated to speed on the flat. He had to be precise.

He stayed flat on his skis as he approached the Brink – a perilous drop that puts fear into any racer. He dropped into the steep, setting an edge on the icy pitch. A right-footed turn would set him up for the exit – sweeping through Pete’s Arena into the Talon Turn and down through Pump House.

Heading into the jumps he was flying – downhill ski racing perfection! He soared off Red Tail with precision, entering the stadium to the most thunderous roar he had ever heard.

It was a perfect run for Rahlves who saw the crowd’s celebration, pumped his fist in the air and grabbed an American flag from the crowd. But it wasn’t quite perfect enough – 0.16 behind Miller. He was second.

Miller ran out to meet him celebrating with hugs and tears. “We’ve been trying to do this for a long time,” said Rahlves.

Bode and Daron were two separate individuals with completely different lifestyles, but they came together as ski racers, supporting each other on the hill.

“We both do our own thing but when we’re racing we each want to win,” said Miller. “To be one-two on home turf, it’s just awesome.”

Rahlves and Miller would define a generation for the U.S. Ski Team. A year later, Rahlves flipped the table with the win over Miller in another one-two USA finish. Miller, meanwhile, took the 2005 GS with Rahlves second and Erik Schlopy fourth. In 2006, Miller won the downhill again with Steven Nyman third.

Birds of Prey would play a leading role amidst the dramatic ironies of Bode Miller’s career. His last World Cup win came in the 2011 downhill there – a narrow 0.04 win over Swiss Beat Feuz, and he would also ski his final race at the 2015 World Championships on the course that brought him fame – hooking an arm on a gate in the Abyss and slicing a tendon.

Fans who were there that December day in 2004 will never forget the magic that Bode and Daron brought to Red Tail Stadium.

Rahlves summed it up best: “I don’t think you’ll ever have a perfect run, but it was a perfect effort.”

German racer injured at Lake Louise NorAms

A German racer in the NorAm speed series in Lake Louise, Canada, crashed during a downhill training run on Tuesday and was airlifted to hospital in Calgary.

17-year-old Max Burkhart crashed at around 2:20pm Tuesday afternoon and suffered severe lower-body injuries, according to an EMS spokesperson. EMS and the Calgary STARS Air Ambulance crew were immediately dispatched and attempted to stabilize the racer before flying to Calgary’s Foothills Hospital in critical condition.

Burkhart is a member of Ski Club Garmisch in Germany.

Alpine Canada Alpin has issued a statement on their Facebook page expressing their condolences.

The accident comes a short three weeks after French skier David Poisson lost his life following a training crash in nearby Nakiska while preparing for the Lake Louise World Cup speed races last month.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Four ‘opponents’ that want to kick your butt on race day

When you wake up on race day, you have a lot on your mind. And if you’re like most racers, one thing on your mind is your fellow competitors. How fast they will ski today and whether you will beat or be beaten by them. But I would argue that those competitors are the least of your concerns. Why? Because they have no direct impact on how fast you ski. Ski racing isn’t tennis or boxing or basketball in which you compete face-to-face with your competitors and how they perform has an immediate influence on how you perform and your level of success.

Given their “after the fact” role on race day, I would suggest that you should prioritize your concerns and direct your attention to four more immediate and formidable “opponents” you must confront on race day. The reason you should pay particular attention to them is that, even more than your fellow competitors, their singular goal on race day is to really mess you up. Moreover, you absolutely must prevail over them if you want to have any chance of beating your fellow competitors.

I’m guessing now that you’re a little confused about what “opponents” I’m talking about and why I keep putting that word in quotes. Well, imagine yourself sliding into the starting gate and looking down the hill at the challenge that lies ahead. Without realizing it, you’re looking directly at those four opponents. I’m talking about:

  • Course
  • Terrain
  • Snow conditions
  • Weather

I realize that I’m anthropomorphizing here (i.e., attributing human qualities to decidedly nonhuman entities), but when you kick out of the starting gate, the course, terrain, snow conditions, and weather will do everything they can to ensure your failure. Depending on the event, the course throws changes in turn radius, rhythm, and combinations.

The course alone would seem like enough to battle, but, no, this is ski racing and the race is just getting warmed up. You also have to deal with the terrain which can include flats, steeps, transitions, rollers, and jumps.

No, the race isn’t even close to being finished with you. You also have to contend with wildly variable snow conditions including bulletproof ice (whether injected or the old Eastern blue variety), slush, ruts, chatter marks, holes, and even grass, rocks, and streams on occasion (I had the latter three all in one race in Italy back in my Burke days).

Finally, as much as we love those sunny and 30 race days, they are relatively rare (especially if you’re from the Midwest or the East!). Instead, it’s more common that you are confronted with bitter cold, high wind, heavy snow, hail, sleet, rain, or fog, or some combination of all of them (I had all of those in one race at Holiday Valley in western New York in my Middlebury days).

Here’s the bottom line. If you allow these opponents to impose themselves on you, you have little chance of skiing fast and getting the result you want. These four opponents can win the battle against you in two ways. First, before you even get on course, they can psych you out, so they have already beaten you before you’ve left the starting gate. In the start area before your run, if you see them as threats, your determination and confidence will lessen, you’ll get nervous and tense, and you’ll focus on everything that will go wrong. Second, with this mindset, once you leave the starting gate, you’ll be playing defense. You will likely be in the back seat, inside, getting thrown around, and skiing scared.

If you want to have any chance of having a good run and getting a decent result, you have to make sure that you impose your will on these four opponents, do what is necessary to resist their efforts, and, in fact, do everything you can to crush them unmercifully. The $640,000 question is how do you do that. Here are a few ideas.

First, you need to view the four opponents as challenges to pursue and conquer rather than threats to avoid or surrender to. Remember that everyone in a race has similar conditions (though start order impacts snow conditions and weather can sometimes change), so it’s not the conditions that matter but rather how you perceive them. With a threat attitude, you’ll be unmotivated, doubtful, nervous, and distracted, and have zero chance of overcoming the four opponents. With a challenge attitude, you’ll be motivated, confident, intense, focused on dominating these opponents, and, as a result, will have a good shot at vanquishing this “fearsome foursome.”

Second, you may not have always put up resistance to the four opponents, so your natural tendency may be to give in to them. To overcome your past passivity, you must, as your race day begins and once you arrive at the start area, make a conscious commitment to fighting them no matter what they throw at you. This commitment marshals all of your psychological, emotional, and physical resources that culminate in a determined effort to overpower the course, snow conditions, terrain, and weather.

Third, to ensure that you enter the field of battle well prepared, as you progress through your race routine, you should ensure that you stay confident in what you bring to the fight, reach your ideal physical intensity, and grab an aggressive mindset that will enable you to muster everything in your ski racing arsenal to “kick butt and take prisoners.”

As with any kind of battle, there are no guarantees that you will emerge victorious. As you well know in ski racing, sometimes your best efforts don’t pay off. But a few final thoughts about that. First, I can guarantee that if you don’t put up a fight, those four opponents will beat you. Second, if you do choose to fight, you have a darned good chance of coming out the winner. Finally, on those occasions when you put up a fight, yet the course, snow conditions, terrain, and weather still get the better of you, you’ll still be able to claim a victory of sorts by having fought the good fight (“it’s better to down with a bang than a whimper”) and, if you commit to always fighting, you’re very likely going to win the ski racing war.

Want to make get your mind in the best shape of your ski racing life? Take a look at my online mental training courses for ski racers, coaches, and parents. Team discounts are available and coaches can attend for FREE with an enrollment of 15 racers from a team.

Russia banned from PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board studied and discussed the findings of the commission led by the former President of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid, addressing the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia. This report also addresses, in particular, the manipulation at the Anti-Doping Laboratory at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, which targeted the Olympic Games directly. Over 17 months of extensive work, the Schmid Commission gathered evidence and information and held hearings with all the main actors.  Due process, to which every individual and every organization is entitled, was followed. This opportunity was not available to the IOC prior to the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

The conclusions of the Schmid Report, on both factual and legal aspects, confirmed “the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia, through the Disappearing Positive Methodology and during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, as well as the various levels of administrative, legal and contractual responsibility, resulting from the failure to respect the respective obligations of the various entities involved.”

As a consequence, the Schmid Commission recommended to the IOC EB:

  • “to take the appropriate measures that should be strong enough to effectively sanction the existence of a systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia, as well as the legal responsibility of the various entities involved (i.e., including uniform, flag and anthem);
  • while protecting the rights of the individual Russian clean athletes; and
  • to take into consideration the multiple costs incurred by the two IOC DCs, in particular those linked to the investigations, the various expertise and the re-analysis of the samples of the Olympic Games.”

After discussing and approving the Schmid Report, the IOC EB took the following decision:

  • To suspend the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) with immediate effect.
  • To invite individual Russian athletes under strict conditions (see below) to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. These invited athletes will participate, be it in individual or team competitions, under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)”. They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag. The Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony.
  • Not to accredit any official from the Russian Ministry of Sport for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
  • To exclude the then Minister of Sport, Mr Vitaly Mutko, and his then Deputy Minister, Mr. Yuri Nagornykh, from any participation in all future Olympic Games.
  • To withdraw Mr Dmitry Chernyshenko, the former CEO of the Organising Committee Sochi 2014, from the Coordination Commission Beijing 2022.
  • To suspend ROC President Alexander Zhukov as an IOC Member, given that his membership is linked to his position as ROC President.
  • The IOC reserves the right to take measures against and sanction other individuals implicated in the system.
  • The ROC to reimburse the costs incurred by the IOC on the investigations and to contribute to the establishment of the Independent Testing Authority (ITA) for the total sum of USD 15 million, to build the capacity and integrity of the global anti-doping system.
  • The IOC may partially or fully lift the suspension of the ROC from the commencement of the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 provided these decisions are fully respected and implemented by the ROC and by the invited athletes and officials.
  • The IOC will issue operational guidelines for the implementation of these decisions.

How the athletes will be chosen
Individual Russian athletes will be invited to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, according to the following guidelines:

  • The invitation list will be determined, at its absolute discretion, by a panel chaired by Valerie Fourneyron, Chair of the ITA. The panel will include members of the Pre-Games Testing Task Force: one appointed by WADA, one by the DFSU and one by the IOC, Dr Richard Budgett.
  • This panel will be guided in its decisions by the following principles:
    • It can only consider athletes who have qualified according to the qualification standards of their respective sport.
    • Athletes must be considered clean to the satisfaction of this panel:
      • Athletes must not have been disqualified or declared ineligible for any Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
      • Athletes must have undergone all the pre-Games targeted tests recommended by the Pre-Games Testing Task Force.
      • Athletes must have undergone any other testing requirements specified by the panel to ensure a level playing field.
  • The IOC, at its absolute discretion, will ultimately determine the athletes to be invited from the list.
  • These invited athletes will participate, be it in individual or team competitions, in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)”. They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag. The Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony.
  • These invited athletes will enjoy the same technical and logistical support as any other Olympic athlete.
  • The panel, at its absolute discretion, will determine an invitation list for support staff and officials.
  • This panel will be guided in its decisions by the following principles:
    • No member of the leadership of the Russian Olympic Team at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 can be included on the invitation list.
    • No coach or medical doctor whose athlete has been found to have committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation can be included on the invitation list. All coaches and medical doctors included on the invitation list must sign a declaration to this effect.
    • Any other requirement considered necessary to protect the integrity of the Olympic Games.
  • The IOC, at its absolute discretion, will ultimately determine the support staff and officials to be invited from the list.

“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “The IOC EB, after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes. This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA.”

He continued, “As an athlete myself, I feel very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs who are suffering from this manipulation. Working with the IOC Athletes’ Commission, we will now look for opportunities to make up for the moments they have missed on the finish line or on the podium.”

Release courtesy of the IOC

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