Refitting the Pipeline, Version 2009

FasterSkierJune 11, 20093

Refitting the Pipeline, Version 2009


The U.S. Ski Team’s development pipeline provides direction for skiers and coaches in the hunt for an Olympic medal. The seven-stage pipeline is comprised of a multitude of successful programs, ranging from over 100 grassroots club programs, to a heavily attended Junior National Championship and a National Team with both World Cup and Development tiers. While the U.S. is propelled by the success of each of these programs, a missing component for years has been our ability to link each concept to the next. The goal of this piece is to illuminate changes within the U.S. development system as discussed recently in Park City, UT at the annual spring Congress.

  • National J2 Talent Identification Camp: Launching August 2010, the U.S. Ski Team will help support a club-run National J2 Talent Identification Camp that targets a broad selection of the country’s best J2 athletes. The goal of the camp is to train, educate, assess, and motivate at a national level a large selection of our top 14 and 15 year-old athletes one to three years earlier than what normally occurs at the Regional Elite Group (REG) camps. Rick Kapala (SVSEF) is the head coach and creator for the inaugural 2010 camp.

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  • Regional Elite Group Camps: Since its inception in 2000, 100% of all REG camps have been attended by a U.S. Ski Team coach. These camps have been integral to the National Team’s goals of identifying talent, communicating with and educating developing athletes and coaches. Changes to the four 2009 REG camps include tightening qualification procedures, introducing a talent identification system and increased focus on professionalism. The talent I.D. system will involve identification bibs and score cards with a rating system for different aspects of the sport at every training session. Coaches will use this system at each REG camp to select one to four athletes to attend the NEG camp in Whistler in September 2009.  This system will also allow each athlete to return home with specific individual tasks to work on.

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  • National Elite Group (NEG) Camp: Adding incentive to the development system, the NEG camp will be comprised of the best one to four athletes from each REG camp run during the 2009 summer. Invitations to the NEG camp in September will be based on observations made by U.S. Ski Team and regional coaches at each REG camp using an assessment method that addresses roller ski technique, work ethic, preparation and long-term dedication, and observations made during each camp’s time trial. The NEG camp is one week in length and will be run by top national club coaches and will operate alongside of the U.S. Ski Team in their final dry land camp at the Olympic venue prior to the Games.

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  • National Training Group (NTG): The NTG is a program run by the National Team, but not as an extension of the National Team. The program will be run from June 15 to August 10, 2009 in Park City, UT in the stomping grounds of the U.S. Ski Team, and will involve several of the country’s best juniors. Housing, training transportation, and daily coaching from one of three local U.S. Ski Team coaches is provided. 


USST XC Pipeline - click for larger version
USST XC Pipeline - click for larger version


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  • caldxski

    June 11, 2009 at 7:26 am

    This is the best-looking USST development program I have seen.

  • jmeserve

    June 12, 2009 at 10:09 am

    This is all well and good, but how about some progression once athletes reach the upper echelons of the competative level.
    Instead of holding Nationals in January, hold them in March after everyone has had the opportunity to ski as much as possible leading up to them.
    Name the US Team after the Nationals in March and have these athletes remain with the Team until the following March when the process would repeat itself.
    Hold all Nationals at the same site.
    For the course of the winter athletes of all ages could compete within their region for a spot in the Nationals as the Juniors do now.
    Leading into an Olympic year available resources could be focused on these athletes to provide them with the best opportunity for success. This would lead to at least two seasons of serious preparation prior to the Olympics. Athletes hoping to make an Olympic team would surely work to gain that support in preparation for the Olympics Trials. This should not become a be all and end all to an Olympic Team.
    An athlete that finishes in the top three (or however many spots the US is allowed in a specific Olympic race) in an Olympic Trials Race you should race in the Olympics whether or not they are a member of the US Team prior to the Olympic trials. Eliminate the gray areas and give all competitors hope. It may take a couple of Olympic cylces for this approach to succeed, but you do need to ask the question. How’s the current system working for the US now?

  • Marc Beitz

    June 12, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I’m sure the USSA has Canada’s permission to use their LTAD research and terminology, but does it hurt to offer an attribution? And what’s the point of changing “train” to “prepare” and tweaking the names of the other developmental stages serve, except to pretend that they aren’t the LTAD terms? I think “Active Start”, “FUNdamentals”, “Learning to Train”, “Training to Train”, “Training to Compete”, “Training to Win”, and “Active for Life” beat the heck out of the modified terms.

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