With the Olympics in full swing, our PR department reminded us that Lands’ End is a proud sponsor of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Central Division Alpine Ski Team.
The USSA is the national governing body of Olympic skiing and snowboarding and the parent organization of the U.S. Ski & Snowboarding teams. In short, they’re the development pipeline for future Olympians.
Becoming an elite skier or snowboarder is still a relatively grassroots, democratic process. Local USSA-affiliated clubs are the primary starting point for aspiring young athletes. Tell ‘em you want to join, and you’re in.
For kids under 14, the USSA wants them to develop their skills and have fun in the competitions. If they stick with it and get serious, by the time they’re 15 or so, they’ll be on the slopes between 120-140 days a year.
As you might imagine, funding for these programs and the athletes is an ongoing challenge. The USSA’s athletes receive no monies from the government. Donations from individuals and corporate sponsorships go a long way to keeping dreams alive.
Those that make it to the USSA Team Central are mostly 18 and older, sometimes with a few promising 16- or 17-year olds in the mix.
Regional competitions lead to regional championships. Top finishers there get invited to National Championships. Perform well there and you might get invited to train with the US Ski or Snowboard Team. And if you get that far, you finally have a chance to make the team…but there are no guarantees.
Turns out mountains may be the least intimidating obstacles they’ll ever face.
Good luck to all the athletes on the Central Division Alpine Ski Team. We’re so very happy to help. And go Team USA!
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