New Gloucester, ME, September 19. The USBA Board of Directors, in their fall meeting yesterday received good news on both the athletic and financial fronts, maintaining the Association’s momentum, which has been steadily building over the past 18 months.
High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler, in an extensive presentation to the Board outlined the improvements made by the World Cup Team in both competition performances and lab testing from the previous year’s results. Virtually every athlete showed gains in some area, although biggest improvements came from Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) in summer competitions and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) in lab testing. At the same time, Eisenbichler explained his long-term plan for success, which includes continuing integration of the US Biathlon Team at all levels (World Cup, Development, and Junior). He explained how this is a long-term project with a goal of, â€œgetting every athlete on the highest level possible.â€ In his report, he praised the work of Coaches Nilsson and Lofgren, as well as the support provided by Drs. Edward Merrens and Andreas Kreutz, nutritionist Robert Gorgos, and Ski Grinder Remigius Bauer.
Directly related to Eisenbichler’s report was that of Director of Athlete Development Piotr Bednarski. Like Eisenbichler, Bednarski further emphasized program integration. He reported on the progress in athlete recruiting which includes four new athletes on the Development Team, based at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid and another six athletes on the newly formed Collegiate Team. Bednarski emphasized the need to recruit younger athletes, who will mature into accomplished biathletes in the USBA system. Chairman Pugh supported Bednarski’s comments stating, â€œOur main objective is to support our World Cup Team and their drive for an Olympic Medal, but at the same time, we need to develop a new generation of athletes that will keep our sport growing.â€
On the club/venue front, both he and Executive Director Max Cobb praised the Anchorage, AK program. Cobb, who met with Olympian and USBA Board Member Rachel Steer there last Saturday, commented, â€œThe work being done on the venue in Kincaid Park is really spectacular. Rachel and the Alaska biathlon community have brought together an excellent group of designers and construction people to make this a world-class facility in a great location. I feel that our Junior World Championships Trials next December there will be huge success and put a new face on biathlon in Alaska, which has provided us with many of our top athletes over the years.â€
USBA Marketing Committee Chairman Andy Shepard furthered the optimistic tone of the day with his report on Monday’s USBA Golf Fundraiser. He reported a revenue net of $47,000 this year, up from $31,000 in 2006. These substantial gains were partially fueled by selling more hole sponsorships and the success of the live auction. Shepard thanked all who contributed to the success of this event, especially citing Board Member Bill Alfond, who arranged for the appearance by hockey great Bobby Orr, and that of Katy Cook who managed the highly successful event.
Beyond the Golf Fundraiser, two additional fund raising programs are in motion. The full-color USBA calendar is currently on sale for $20 through the USBA office and the Gold Medal Program kicks off in October. The Gold Medal program, which raised $25,000 in 2006, hopes to build on that this year by reaching beyond the USBA membership. Both will add funds to the USBA coffers to support the drive towards medals in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Beyond the direct fundraising, both Shepard and Cobb emphasized the need to add to the USBA sponsor pool. With good amounts of space for sponsors available on athlete uniforms and a season that promises continued good television and media exposure, a concerted search is underway. Adding more high-level sponsors will help stabilize the association’s funding long-term according to Cobb.
After a morning of good news on many fronts, USBA Chairman Larry Pugh thanked the Board and the USBA Staff for their reports, work, and contributions. He also announced that the Annual USBA Membership Meeting would be held on October 22, 2007 at the USBA Office in New Gloucester at 4 PM.