Joey Caterinichio, a longtime figure in the cross-country skiing community, announced last month that she plans to step down as nordic manager at the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA).
Beginning the position in 2012 after John Farra left to join the U.S. Olympic Committee as high-performance director of the Paralympic Nordic Program, Caterinichio has served as the manager of one of the largest branches of the organization for roughly three years.
Caterinichio’s journey to USSA began long before her time as an administrator. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, she raced throughout high school, college and beyond. She then became a coach and founder of the Alaska Nordic Racing in Anchorage. Over her years of training young athletes, she attended 18 junior nationals as a team leader or head coach for the Alaska region. Caterinichio also began working with Kikkan Randall when the three-time World Cup sprint champion was a U14 and on multiple Team Alaska trips.
Caterinichio was also the chief organizer for U.S. nationals when they were held in Anchorage in 2009 and 2010.
When Caterinichio took over the managerial role in 2012, she oversaw several projects regarding reorganization of USSA’s nordic branch — from updating websites and contacts to easing scheduling procedures. During her time as manager, Caterinichio went to two World Championships and the 2014 Olympics, where she served as an organizer and general support.
During her time on the international circuit, she observed what it took to be the best in the world and brought what she learned to her work with domestic skiing. According to Caterinichio, the link between the U.S. Ski Team (USST) athletes racing in Europe and the athletes competing on home soil is crucial in maintaining a healthy ski racing community.
“It’s super important that our domestic athletes have some sort of tangible reach to the international athletes,” she said in a phone interview. “Between criteria, our SuperTour, sending athletes to the World Cup, and making domestic skiers part of World Championship teams, I feel that it was one of the best parts of the jobs. “
Over the years in the position, Caterinichio said that her main focus has been to lay the groundwork for clubs around the country to develop strong athletes.
“There’s been a lot of work by the clubs that’s forwarded skiing in the United States over the years,” Caterinichio said. “I came from the field, so with the trust of my colleagues I came into USSA trying to help make USSA have a better light in what it can offer folks. That was my goal.”
Caterinichio pointed to the new membership policy recently announced by USSA as a project that aims to make USSA and skiing in the United States more accessible.
“It’s going to make cross-country bigger,” she said pointing to decreased membership fees. “Right now there’s roughly a thousand members in cross-country. Now we’ve lowered the prices so much that our goal is 10,000 members.
“The task was to increase membership within USSA and do it in conjunction with working with everyone instead of alienating them,” she added. “A national governing body is important for any athlete to belong to. It happens in swimming, it happens in hockey.”
Caterinichio said that one of the main reasons for her departure was USSA’s need for someone based in Park City. While she has performed her work from Alaska for the past three years, the new membership program will require someone on-site. According to her, her replacement may require a team rather than an individual.
In a USSA press release, Executive Vice President of Athletics Luke Bodensteiner explained that the position for nordic domestic program director will be based at USSA’s Center of Excellence in Park City. The association is seeking applicants “with a deep background in cross country ski racing and with strong marketing and administrative skills. It’s anticipated that the position will start in Park City by mid to late summer,” the release stated.
Caterinichio plans to stay in her current position until there is a sufficient replacement. Once her role has been filled, she will stay with USSA in a volunteer capacity.
“I’d love to continue to work with USSA and consult,” she said, adding that she’ll also continue working with the National Nordic Foundation (NNF) and possibly work in a business venture unrelated to skiing.
“Caterinichio has worked to increase the quality level of USSA cross country events and played a strategic role in managing the membership task force the past year,” the USSA press release stated. “She will remain on during the transition and will continue to be engaged with the USSA as she has for over two decades.”
Lander Karath is FasterSkier's Associate Editor from Bozeman, Montana and a Bridger Ski Foundation alumnus. Between his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, he is an outdoor enthusiast and a political junkie.