The United States Ski and Snowboard Association recently announced the Cross-country National Team selection for 2006 – 2007. Season preparation for the new Team is well under way and training opportunities have been extended to athletes outside the Team as well. We have observed a number of comments from the skiing community about the Team selection on this web site. The large batch of those comments deserves no further discussion; what they lack in substance and relevance they certainly regain in transparency and disrespect.
A number of people work directly or indirectly for our national ski program and its progress. Although sport in principle is fun and games, the USSA staff and committee volunteers are committed to improving our sport and take this effort quite seriously. US cross-country has developed a comprehensive performance and development plan taking us a decade into the future. With the plan in place and strong motivation within the organization, more skiers are now receiving US Team benefits than we have seen in many years; the coaching staff has increased, and support functions grown accordingly. Further, the USSA’s commitment to cross-country, and active lobbying within the organization’s ranks, have resulted in substantial increases in program funding. The current budget runs about double that of just a couple of years ago, and we can, with corresponding athletic progress, conclude this Olympic quadrennium with resources in multiples of what we traditionally have seen in the US.
Team selection and other program items are often subject to discussion, and all of us do of course not always agree on how things should be done. Those debates sharpen the pencils and open up our minds to future improvements. It is however important to keep the discussion on the table. Fasterskier.com is providing a fine forum for freely sharing information and open dialogue in the effort of furthering the progress of skiing. The site is open for personal opinions, tough debates, praise and criticism, and let us maintain the forum for what is for and about. That is simple courtesy this website and US Skiing both deserve.
Hats off to all the people across the country who ski, coach, race, groom trails, raise money or otherwise contribute to the progress of US cross-country skiing in a constructive way. Let’s have a good winter.
Jon Engen, Chairman, XC- Committee, USSA