USSA names first women’s ski jump squad
This week, there is more good news for the top American female ski jumpers.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, on the heels of an International Ski Federation decision adding women’s ski jumping to the 2009 World Championships, will name men and women to its U.S. Ski Jumping Team for the first time with the start of the 2007 season. In addition, USSA is partnering with the Park City-based National Sports Foundation to provide head coaches for each team.
"This decision takes the athletes to a whole new level," said Women’s Ski Jumping president Deedee Corradini. "They will be able to train with professional trainers at a top-notch facility, have access to a sports psychologist, a full-time coach, and so much more that they haven’t had until now."
U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner said five women and two men were nominated to the jumping squad. He predicts that formal naming of the jumping will take place either before or after the Continental Cup event being held at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City July 21-22.
On the coaching side, Casey Colby will be named women’s coach and Mike Keuler men’s coach. Both men are Olympic ski jumpers and current coaches for NSF. Colby has been the women’s coach for the past several seasons, while Keuler a 1998 Olympic teammate of Colby’s has worked with the U.S. men regularly during training at the Utah Olympic Park.
At its recent biennial convention in Vilamoura, Portugal, FIS delegates voted to add women’s jumping to the 2009 World Nordic Ski Championships an obligatory step before inclusion in the Olympics. Officials of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics must accept women’s jumping and then seek International Olympic Committee approval.
"If they are some of the top jumpers in the world today, imagine what they can do in Vancouver 2010," Corradini said. "This also enables us to better support the development of ski jumping for younger girls."
The Ski Team has implemented a new process this year for naming athletes to its various teams, Bodensteiner said, adding it was a privilege, not an athlete’s right, to be named to the Ski Team. In naming an athlete to any team, USSA wants to ensure each athlete is committed to U.S. Ski Team standards, including both athletic training and competition programs as well as team values, he said.
"Once these athletes understand and accept the terms, we name them," Bodensteiner said. "These are the rules to live by as athletes on how to conduct themselves. It’s kind of backwards to put someone on the team and then say ‘Here are the conditions.’"
Team staff will work individually with nominated athletes to provide education on team responsibilities and program leading to formal team announcement this summer.
Bodensteiner also added that acceptance and practice of these core corporate values will also be expected of the newly named coaches, as well as all other staff and volunteers associated with the U.S. Ski Team.
Adia Waldburger contributed to this report.
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