Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Posted by Charles Christianson at 8:33 AM
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Since the USSA Congress, things have moved into action-item mode. The meetings were a great way share ideas and identify ways to take our sport forward, but all the talking and planning is for not without executing these ideas and seeing if they produce results.
Specifically, I have been focused on a couple of things. Last Friday, I spoke with Lynn Dorsey Bleil, the senior partner at McKinsey & Company tasked with carrying out The Report, for about an hour about the study and the task force charged with implementing the recommendations. I reiterated that, as the athlete rep, I didn't agree with the number of athletes that were sampled in relation to the other perspectives, but that any report which identified a need to focus more on the clubs and the end-user was a good one. Lynn was receptive to my comments and was very helpful explaining the process they used to reach the athlete's thoughts, and assured me that while the number of athletes could have been larger, that the quality of the input they received was substantial. We agreed to work together going forward in order to provide targeted feedback for future projects and initiatives.
I am seeking out specific January European races as they get put on the 2014 winter competition schedule, in order to submit them for an expanded quota request. Of course ze Germans have their entire schedule out, but other countries are lacking (let's go AUT and ITA!). January is a time of year when the USA international race quota of 10 spots per race are constantly oversubscribed. With the priority that the USST, USST D-Team, and now sponsored regional projects and USSA Academy members have to these spots, an American skier not on the Team or involved in these projects has even less of a chance to showcase his or her talents abroad.
Finally, I am working with Chip Knight, Dartmouth coach and the USOC athlete rep to the USSA Board of Directors and incidentally my former coach, on the particulars of a collegiate-USST relationship for the next spring and summer. Also, he was able to communicate some details from the EISA meeting, held last week, in which the issues of the Eastern NCAA collegiate circuit were discussed, specifically the "host obligations" agreement for holding a carnival and the preparation of the hill. As the collegiate circuit penalty and quality of field gets better and better, it is increasingly important the conditions and quality of race continue to evolve as well. There isn't a lot of opposition to this idea, but cost constraints of hosting these events and negotiating with the host sites will require some creative thinking to solve these issues.
There has been some interest in filling out positions as athlete reps on the regional boards, and I continue for people to reach out to me (email@example.com) with any questions about the role and what it would mean. I have gotten a lot of positive response from other members at the Congress about the renewed engagement of all the athlete reps recently. I have no base to compare from, but this opportunity to further affect policy is an opportunity that we should not pass up.
Whether you're on a glacier or a lake, enjoy the summer!
Posted by Charles Christianson at 7:01 AM
Monday, May 20, 2013
The USSA Congress is absolutely nuts. It’s 5 days of back-to-back-to-back meetings that addresses every conceivable area of the sport of ski racing, from the width of a slalom pole (and the designation that it shouldn’t be referred as a gate) to the size of the collegiate quota for US Nationals if the NCAA champion doesn’t attend to disciplinary actions if an athlete at a USSA-affiliated camp uses marijuana in a state like Washington or Colorado after it is legalized (sorry hippies, it’s still a no-no) to my personal favorite, a request for more involvement with ski racing with Big Ten schools. I’m envisioning a night slalom in the Big House now...Add in the equally, if not more, important meetings and meals with the constituency, USSA coaches and officials, trustees, college coaches, etc., and it makes for a very involved couple of days. In all, the Congress was a fantastic experience and I think it was useful in creating policy to shape ski racing in the US in a more positive way.
Posted by Charles Christianson at 7:53 AM
Monday, May 6, 2013
Posted by Charles Christianson at 6:01 AM
Monday, April 22, 2013
Every year I try ski my last day of the season at Mammoth Mountain, in California. While other mountains are shutting down operations for the season, or should be shutting down from poor snow coverage, Mammoth is different. The mountain boasts 100 percent open terrain, cold temps at night, lots of April sun...and it's in California. This makes for a perfect time to host the Mammoth Invitational, a 3-day fundraiser benefiting the Mammoth Lakes Community Fund, which provides funding for educational and athletic programs for the local youth. The participants, mostly from LA, are paired up with a professional skier as a coach, and compete in numerous activities from a biathlon to an alpine ski race to casino night.
The pro alpine race can get rather serious (Dave Chodunsky got me by three hundredths for the overall...damn him), but with about 13 ways to "win" each event, having a good costume can be just as important as having a fast time. As one of the pro coaches, my job is to make sure my group is having a good time, and maybe teach a thing or two about ski technique. This being my third year volunteering at the event, I've worked with groups that wanted to train gates and do one-ski drills during a snow storm, and others that simply wanted someone to go big mountain skiing with.
This year's group, the Go Go Glacier Girls, were definitely into matching outfits and having a good time, but also happened to be some of the best skiers at the event. Armed with some, shall we say, loud team clothing options, we skied all over Mammoth for two days and had a great time at the accompanying events.
Posted by Charles Christianson at 8:58 AM
Monday, April 8, 2013
Here's to the nerds.
Especially those that win awards, like tickets to the Final Four. The NCAA, in an effort to promote their student-athlete objective, recently established an award that honors the top GPA earner in each sport. The prize: two tickets to the Final Four men's basketball tournament. As I am almost 5 years removed from my college career, I never had the opportunity to win this newly created award (that, and my freshman fall econ grade quickly put an end to this ever happening to me). However, Andreas Haug, a good friend from Norway and current student at Colorado University, was in fact the winner of this prize, boasting an impressive GPA of 3.98 and a starting member of CU's 2 national skiing championships in the last three years. And as a displaced Norweigan, he needed an energetic friend who had an intimate knowledge (or at least a baseline) of basketball knowledge and enjoyed big time competitions. Guess who he asked...
That's right, this weekend Andreas and I enjoyed all that was Bracketville in ATL. Outdoor concerts from Zac Brown Band to Ludacris, watching a basketball game with a capacity crowd at the Georgia Dome, and lower bowl tickets to two a night of great competition, the trip was all that we could have hoped for. Big time collegiate sports are alive and well.
A lot of the fun for me was the ability to play tour guide to Andreas, as he had never before been to the South, and didn't really follow basketball. I prepped him throughout the week with video clips of everything from Lil' Jon to the ESPN documentary on the Fab Five. By Saturday night he actually knew some of the college basketball greats being honored at halftime (as a newly minted Michigan fan he booed Christian Laettner) and had eaten meals of chicken and waffles to catfish.
I'm really hoping that Andreas keeps his grades up this year, and most importantly that that he needs a tour guide to next year's Final Four in Dallas. Andreas and I were remarking that skiing has allowed us to travel the world and experience so many different things that we would otherwise never be a part of. This certainly fell into that category.
Posted by Charles Christianson at 12:15 PM
Monday, March 25, 2013
I love California. Especially in March, and especially in the mountains. This last week Squaw Valley hosted the US Alpine Championships, putting on a great event with all the flare that one would expect from a Cali destination ski area known for big mountain skiing, a deep passion for ski racing, and having fun in the process (name another ski area that throws pool parties…at the top of the mountain).
US Nationals is the last time of year when the majority of the ski racing community is gathered in one spot, making it an ideal venue to meet with athletes and learn about current issues. These meetings took place on a chairlift, at the race finish, at the banquet, or later at night. I selflessly threw myself into as many of these social situations as I could, and got the chance to speak with a lot of athletes who shared their experiences from this season. I also got the chance to speak with the USSA staff members, most notably Bill Marolt for almost an hour.
With the USSA Congress less than 2 months away, this was a great way to start formalizing thoughts and opinions to communicate on behalf of the athletes during these meetings. I am also in the process of learning as much as I can about the Alpine Sport Committee, in charge of discussing current and proposed policy, and which subcommittees I should ask to speak at. Darryl Landstrom, the Chairman of the ASC, has been very helpful instructing me on the procedure and format of the meetings throughout the week . At first glance the organizational structure can be a bit confusing, but with proper guidance it has become much clearer.
I encourage any USSA athlete to contact me directly about any issue he or she might have regarding their position within the USSA organization or the USST. The earlier that I can learn about the issues the better, in order to give each issue the time it deserves.
Cheers to all of the athletes on a great season of ski racing. I am looking forward to being in Vail next weekend and then rounding out the season back in Mammoth Mountain at the Mammoth Invitational in April. If anyone would like to meet during these times, maybe discus things between ripping some turns, let me know!
Posted by Charles Christianson at 8:18 AM