U.S. Ski Team Nominates 2014/2015 Squad, Brings Back the D-Team

BrainspiralApril 26, 201413

US Ski Team Logo

On Friday, USSA announced its nominations to the 2015 U.S. Ski Team. The list, determined by published criteria, is led by U.S. Ski Team veteran and defending World Cup Sprint champion, Kikkan Randall. Also renominated to the A-team are Jessie Diggins, Andy Newell and Liz Stephen. Sadie Bjornsen, Sophie Caldwell and Simi Hamilton all made the jump from last season’s B-team to this year’s A-team. Ida Sargent, Erik Bjornsen and Noah Hoffman return to the B-team.

There are also several noticeable differences in the team nominations with the absence of former A-team member Holly Brooks and the addition of a D-team, with Ben Saxton and Patrick Caldwell.

“This is a pretty fantastic opportunity and I’m stoked,” Saxton told FasterSkier. “There are lots of people who I think are at a similar level of development, so this is a great honor. I think what really got me here was my awesome peer group. ”

According to the USSA press release, the list is only preliminary and consists of athletes who have qualified based on published selection criteria. The final U.S. Ski Team roster will be announced in the fall, and the USSA staff “will work individually with nominated athletes to provide education on Team responsibilities and programs leading up to the formal Team announcement.”


A Team Men

Simi Hamilton, SMS T2

Andy Newell, SMS T2


A Team Women

Sadie Bjornsen, Alaska Pacific University NSC

Sophie Caldwell, SMS T2

Jessica Diggins, SMS T2

Kikkan Randall, Alaska Pacific University NSC

Liz Stephen, Burke Mountain Academy


B Team Men

Erik Bjornsen, Alaska Pacific University NSC

Noah Hoffman, Team Homegrown


B Team Women

Ida Sargent, Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club


D Team Men

Patrick Caldwell, Dartmouth Ski Team

Ben Saxton, SMS T2

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  • Martin Hall

    April 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Would be interesting to hear what level of support each team receives and who is supporting those dollars—USST, individual, NNF or whatever agency might be stepping forward. Transparency is always good to know–especially when thinking of supporting the different agencies. Also, isn’t there a way to directly contribute to the athlete and they put the money in a fund—something like this if I remember right. The USST holds the money in escrow against receipts supplied by the skier?? Swimming in the dark here a bit?!?
    Also, in your selection process for the 2015 WSC can you make sure that it is possible for a domestic process that lets possible candidates here make that team. If you continue to have only people from the international field be selected (as was the women’s team this year for the Olympic team) you may in the long run kill the domestic involvement in the selection process. A real negative. I’m sure some of the girls this year felt like—“Why did I go to all those races?”

  • nyctvt

    April 26, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Is Holly Brooks retiring? If not and she didn’t have a great year would she not first be named to the B Team before she was dropped all together?

  • WI skier

    April 26, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    In an article on another site Holly said she asked not to be nominated to the team.

  • chanderson

    April 28, 2014 at 9:48 am

    With the Skier at the Olympics caught for doping, does the red group list get adjusted? Might allow Noah H. to sneak in?

  • xf30

    April 28, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Some questionable decisions to say the least. As our best distance skier, there is no doubt Hoffman is on the A team. He has lower FIS points than Liz Stephen! Although there is no doubt that Liz is one of the greatest women’s skiers in U.S. history and an elite hill climber, have any of her performances indicated she is a threat to win, let alone to podium in a legit world cup distance race? Hoffman’s finishing place is not always great, but he is far more competitive than any U.S. women in distance races, and arguably a podium threat. He’s already shown supreme fitness in in the 15k pursuit at the opening world cup weekend and the 30k at the Tour de Ski. Plus, he always mixes it up at the front of mass starts. In women’s races, it’s just the Bjoergen, Johaug, Kalla, and Kowalczyk show by 5k with the U.S. women off the back and out of sight. Obviously money is an issue, but let’s name people to the right teams!

    It’s inexcusable that Scott Patterson was not named to at least the D team. Kid was only 10 seconds back of Hoffman in a 15k on a brutal Alaskan course where he trashed the other U.S. team members in attendance, not to mention his dominance during his days a junior and on the EISA circuit and Dartmouth Carnival Super Tour. Some of these coaching decisions just make me laugh.

    Finally, I don’t get the emphasis the U.S. coaches put on not skiing in college. From what I see, a lot of these foreign college skiers the Americans are competing are easily good enough to make the U.S. team, as they are winning Super Tours and National Championship races as full time college students (probably doing their fair share of partying on the side). Even a foreign skier at Colorado who didn’t even know there was a team when he decided to attend hopped into the sprint race at West Yellowstone and won. I hope the U.S. coaches are reading these comments and rethink how talent is being developed and promoted in this country.

  • WI skier

    April 29, 2014 at 7:56 am

    I don’t agree with the above regarding Liz. She is ranked 15th on the distance list and is the highest ranked distance skier on the team. Noah is 28th.

    The issue I see is that the link to the USSA published criteria in the article does not say what is needed to make the A team, B team etc. It just gives the criteria for making the team. I thought I had read at one point that a top 30 ranking on any World Cup list would get an athlete on the A team. If that was accurate and the list I linked to above is accurate then Noah should be on the A team. Since my understanding is there is a large difference in support between A team and B team it would seem reasonable that USSA would publish the criteria for the different teams.

  • cuxc

    April 29, 2014 at 9:06 am

    WI Skier- The USSA seems to use the world ranking lists for sprint and distance as the base criteria for making the A team, and not the world cup standings. Any skier that is in the top 30 in their discipline on the world ranking list when it is published is part of the Red Group, and thus receives financial support from FIS for the races. Noah was 32nd on the men’s distance list at the end of the season, while Andy and Simi were both inside the top 30 on the sprint list.

    Men’s Sprint List: http://data.fis-ski.com/pdf/2014/CC/3383/2014CC3383SRL.pdf
    Men’s Distance List: http://data.fis-ski.com/pdf/2014/CC/3385/2014CC3385WCSL.pdf

  • Tim Kelley

    April 29, 2014 at 11:34 am

    WI skier: I can understand why the USST does not have criteria for A and B team selections. Budget. If you only have enough money to support 6 or 7 skiers full-time on the WC circuit, you can’t afford to support more. And, as we know, the XC budget is a moving target. To have both an A team selection criteria and offer guaranteed support for A team members, the selection criteria would have to be more stringent than it is now. Because you don’t want to be locked into naming more skiers to the A team than you can afford to support.


    The FIS needs to get their ranking data in order. As shown by the links above – one FIS link of a PDF with “final” data shows Hoffman as 32nd. But the FIS website with “final” rankings shows him as 28th. How are ski organizations supposed to make good selection decisions if the FIS ranking data is inconsistent and questionable?

  • xf30

    April 29, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    In response to WI skier, I was using FIS points used to seed for races that are based off time back from the winner to compare Hoffman and Liz. Obviously, this system has some limitations because because only a skier’s top 5 races in the past 12 months are taken into account, but it nonetheless provides a much more objective measure to measure male and female skiers against each other (makes the lack of depth in the women’s field a non-issue). Even in Liz’s fifth place at World Champs in 2013, she was still 40+ seconds back in a 10k. Hoffman was actually much closer (% back and even with FIS points using mass start multiplier) in the 50k at the Olympics this year even with his mishaps. Go back and compare Hoffman and Liz’s results from the past season and you’ll see that Hoffman was usually more competitive with the top guys than Liz was with the top girls.

    None of of this is to say that Liz should not be on the A team (she should be), but rather that it makes no sense that America’s top male distance skier is only on the B team when he is arguably the best distance skier, male or female, in the country. Obviously funding makes it difficult when the FIS makes red group qualification standards (and the $ that comes with it) equal between men and women, but let’s at least have a distance skier on the men’s A team when he is deserving and still young! He’s already the most marketable skier we have (besides Kikkan) with his blog. Make it happen!

  • solda

    April 29, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    My question is why new D-Team members are being nominated, when less than a year ago Skyler Davis who just was booted off the D-Team with more impressive results than either of the new nominees! He made numerous A-finals and podiums at senior nationals, and scored world cup points directly before being cut: I don’t know about you, but this apparent double standard bothers me. I don’t know why any young skier would forgo college at the behest of USST coaches and their godforsaken pipeline when their chances of make the team are slim to none even with impressive results achieved during full-time skiing (Reese Hanneman), and those that do make the team are either cut young after developing well (Davis), unceremoniously dumped after years of top level skiing (Freeman), or left unfunded despite being the US’s best distance skier ever (Hoffman- Koch’s results were a result of cheating by skating).
    Perhaps the solution is to eliminate the US ski team as a centralized organization and hold a trials series every summer on rollerskis. Only college graduates or college students (think Scott Patterson) could participate, thereby encouraging young skiers to actually consider their future instead of destroying their future earning potential by spending their time training for the off chance of representing the world’s most mediocre “skiing nation” with no backup plan. All good points by xf30, while many people appeared to have a bit of a rager for the women’s team’s results this year, they were mostly a result of the uncompetitiveness of women’s skiing as a whole. In my opinion, a top 40 for Hoffman is equally impressive as a top 15 for women. Objective standards that only consider world cup rankings unfairly favor women, and perpetuates the matriarchy that the USST has become.

  • Tim Kelley

    April 29, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    solda: You say “Hoffman is the best US distance skier ever because Koch cheated by skating.” That’s probably one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever read on Fasterskier. Koch won his Olympic silver in 1976, when he was 21 (and much younger than Hoffman), when everyone classic skied. Nobody skated in that race. So how many Olympic medals has Hoffman won? None. Freeman and Swenson have placed in the top 5 in the World Championships. So how many top-5 placings has Hoffman had in the World Championships? None. Hoffman is no Bill Koch, and he never will be. Oh yeah, and Bill Koch never got beat by an unknown college skier at nationals.

  • WI skier

    April 29, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Tim Kelley: Good point about the moving budget and possibly not being able to support every one that meets a published criteria. That would be an awesome problem to have though.
    Re: Different lists: I did think it was odd when I saw Noah in 28th since from what I remembered he was 32nd, but should move up a place to 31st since the doper should be removed. If for no other reason FIS should clean up/clarify their lists for the people following at home to make the sport more spectator friendly. I was surprised I found a list as quickly as I did, last time I went looking I had a hard time finding one on their website. I guess the result was I found the “wrong” list.

  • oneoldguy

    April 29, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Tim kelley, thanks for calling out solda on his inflammatory statements. It’s great that people believe in hoffman, but he has a long way to go until he’s a legend of US skiing like koch.

    You would think the international governing body would have their marbles together and be able to publish one concrete list. Alas, I agree with xf30 that hoffman is deserving of A team status, regardless of whether he is just inside the top 30 or outside. Would help him out a lot, financially and emotionally. He has often spoke of insecurities about his ski career, and the USST cannot afford to lose him. He’s the future.

    As an older skier I am very excited for some fresh faces on the D team, looking forward to seeing these young guns build on the successes of their predecessors!

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