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US Ski & Snowboard Discussing And Addressing Issues During The Offseason

US Ski and Snowboard Team-Makaela Shiffrin

Safe environments for athletes, funding of travel and the expansion of Utah’s Olympic Park are all on top of mind for US Ski & Snowboard during their offseason.

US Ski & Snowboard CEO Tiger Shaw says that they, and other members of the Olympic movement are working to protect their athletes from all forms of abuse.

“All of those things that are really forefront in the news today, but at the same time having a great athlete culture,” Shaw continued. “So, the athlete voice are they heard? Do they understand how we're running as an organization? Do they understand our financing and what we're spending money on? On top of it the athlete feedback loop which is so difficult, and everybody is so aware of the aspect of retaliation. So, when you’re a club skier, or soccer player, you name it and then something isn’t right people often don't speak out. Of course that fear of retaliation really led to Larry Nassar being able to harbor his behavior for so long. So, how do you break that cycle? We're really doing a deep dive this year to understand really what we could do better as an organization. It’s hard. There are so many different aspects to keep track of. Selecting teams and being an extremely selective organization. It’s very difficult to make the US ski and snowboard teams.”

Shaw says that every individual with influence in the Olympic movement in the US must abide by the safe sport civil code and are subject to sanctions if they do not.

An additional challenge that US Ski & Snowboard is addressing is travel costs for their athletes. Each athlete incurs travel costs of anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 a year depending on the team. Shaw was happy to report that they’ve made strides to greatly reduce the personal contributions of funds required of athletes.

“So the bottom line is that if you're a rookie or you are a development team member on our teams you do have to bear part of that cost,” Shaw explained. “It’s generally not the whole cost so maybe $10,000 or $15,000 as a young athlete and you have to find a way to raise that. You're coming from a club where you generally are having that kind of cost too, but once you start traveling globally it's incredibly expensive. Most of our upper teams are fully, if not nearly fully funded as of this year. Which is a giant change for us.”

US Ski & Snowboard is also working to help with the Utah Olympic Park’s expansion. He says that all of the contributing companies, and organizations are where future Olympians are built.

“In the Sochi games if Utah had been a country we would have been in the top 6 in the world, in terms of Olympic medals,” Shaw said. “The Olympic movement here, and the Utah Olympic Park expansion of their facilities and the ability to train there and concentrate there with many different sports is an exceptional set up. So, there is a way to expand the skiing and riding there. It already has of course the amazing pool and the air bag. Now they're going to put a new lift up this summer. It's wonderful to have everything concentrated in one place.”

These and other items will all be discussed as part of this year’s US Ski & Snowboard Congress in Park City from May 14th to May 18th.

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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