Posts Tagged ‘Bill Marolt’

IOC Adds New Events for 2014 Olympics: Slopestyle Skiing, Slopestyle Snowboarding & Snowboarding Parallel Slalom

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

DURBAN, South Africa (July 4) – Officials of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association acknowledged the International Olympic Committee for its progressive decision Monday to add three more events to the Olympic Winter Games in 2014 including slopestyle skiing, slopestyle snowboarding and snowboarding parallel slalom. The addition of events in snowboarding and freeskiing were cited by the USSA as being directly connected to what youth are doing worldwide today in the sport.

In April, the IOC had approved halfpipe skiing along with women’s ski jumping.

“The IOC’s decision to add slopestyle to the Olympics recognizes the millions of youth who are already participating in the sport in terrain parks around the world,” said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. “It will have a very positive impact on the sport including our U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing programs.”

Slopestyle consists of a series of judged tricks down a long course of man-made features including rails, boxes and jumps. It’s an integral part of terrain parks at resorts worldwide with millions of youth already engaged in the sport both in skiing and snowboarding.

The addition of the three for both men and women brings the total of nine new medal events/genders added by the IOC this year for skiing and snowboarding under the International Ski Federation. The USSA played a key role with the FIS on the new freeskiing events of halfpipe and slopestyle, along with snowboarding slopestyle, giving skiing and snowboarding 50% of the Winter Olympic events.

“It’s gratifying to see the modernism shown by the IOC in bringing in so many new events to better showcase the excitement of skiing and snowboarding as action sports to the world,” added Marolt.

Athletes globally reacted favorably that the sport they evolved has been recognized for inclusion in the world’s biggest sporting event.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the IOC’s decision, said Tom Wallisch (Pittsburgh, PA), one of the world’s most noted slopestyle athletes. “I’ve always dreamt of skiing for the USA at the Olympics, and now we finally have the opportunity. This is a huge moment for our sport.”

The same was true of snowboarders, who like freeskiers have been showcasing their sport for years at events like the X Games and the U.S. Grand Prix.

“I am so stoked that slopestyle will be included in the next Olympic Games,” said three-time X Games women’s gold medalist Jamie Anderson (S. Lake Tahoe, CA).  “Slopestyle is such a progressive event and has become much more popular over the last few years. Nothing thrills me more than to see the sport that I love so much recognized on the world’s stage.”

“It is so great to finally hear that slopestyle will be included in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games,” added Chas Guldemond (Reno, NV), one of the biggest stars in the sport and one of the top-ranked Americans. “It is an honor that the IOC feels our sport is worthy and I cannot wait to be able to try my best to bring home a medal for my country. The Olympic Games are the ultimate dream for any athlete. I know that the viewers will not be disappointed with the show that we will put on for them in 2014. This is history in the making for our sport and I am stoked to have the opportunity to be a part of it.”

The USSA took an active position within the FIS to push for inclusion of freeskiing events of halfpipe and slopestyle, plus slopestyle snowboarding. This past February, the USSA stepped in to help support the inclusion of slopestyle and halfpipe skiing into the FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. Those events were pivotal in showcasing the sport of freeskiing to the IOC. The IOC’s Executive Committee had given its President Jacques Rogge the power to add the new events based on successful World Championships. Athletes competing at the World Championships took a leadership role in showing the IOC the high level of athletic ability that had grown up with the sport.

The U.S. had a strong performance in slopestyle skiing at the World Championships. Teen Alex Schlopy (Park City, UT) took gold, with Sammy Carlson (Hood River, OR) silver and Keri Herman (Breckenridge, CO) bronze in women’s.

“Slopestyle skiing and snowboarding are already bringing scale to our industry worldwide,” said the USSA’s Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Andrew Judelson. “The IOC’s recognition of slopestyle is great for our sport and partners like The North Face in freeskiing and Burton in snowboarding who have also seen the youthful interest in the sports. We look forward to leveraging these new Olympic disciplines to engage consumers, drive growth and fund our athletes Olympic dreams.”

The USSA and U.S. Olympic Committee will determine a selection process to ultimately name the team for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

USSA Announces Launch of US Freeskiing Brand

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

On the heels of the IOC’s April 6 announcement that skiing halfpipe would be admitted to the Olympics, the USSA announced today the creation of the US Freeskiing brand.

For years, the chance to compete in the Olympic Games has been a dream for many competitive freeskiers; that yearning transcended to families, friends, coaches, sponsors, manufacturers, and fans. Just last month, the IOC announced to the world that halfpipe skiing would indeed be added to the event roster at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, and those dreams quickly became a reality. Here in the US, the question for athletes quickly became, “how do we proceed?” And the creation of US Freeskiing is the answer.

Currently, the USSA is comprised of alpine, freestyle, cross country, jumping/nordic, adaptive, snowboarding, and masters teams. Needless to say, halfpipe, slopestyle, and skiercross don’t exactly fit into the mix. The natural course was to create something new, but what exactly?

As excited as many people were when halfpipe skiing was admitted to the Olympics, many others feared for our sport; freeskiing has never been about rules and regulations, and joining the Olympics seemingly poses a threat to our individuality. Eager to find a solution, and in an effort to tread the fine line, the US Freeskiing brand was born.

Established to support US Freeskiing athletes in their pursuit of excellence, and also to help build a solid foundation on which the sport can continue to grow, this brand has been constructed carefully, and thoughtfully. To ensure US Freeskiing gains traction, backing, and momentum, the USSA hired a third party group, DraftFCB, to assist in the building of the brand identity. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, athletes have been involved from the get-go. From brand design and development, to talks about a potential team program, the athletes have been instrumental in bringing this idea to fruition. Amongst some of the most influential have been Jen Hudak, and Simon Dumont, two the most accomplished competitors within the sport.

To help spread the word about the launch of US Freeskiing, and the inclusion of halfpipe skiing in the Olympic Games, the two of them are currently traveling with USSA representatives on a media tour; they’re making stops at major media outlets including ESPN and The Wall Street Journal, working to spread the word about the brand launch, and the addition of halfpipe skiing to the olympics. W

e caught up with Jen Hudak over the weekend, and she had this to say about the creation of US Freeskiing: “It was important to us athletes that an establishment didn’t take over our sport, but that we the athletes could direct the establishment. U.S. Freeskiing is embracing those core values and giving us a boost onto the main stage. The world now has an opportunity to see what we are doing on skis. We’re no longer going to be Shaun-White-on-skis, we can be us.” Hudak poured blood, sweat and tears into this effort, and to see the culmination instills a sense of pride that words simply cannot express.

We also spoke on the phone this morning with Simon Dumont. Fresh out of an interview, and on his way to another, Dumont took a few minutes to share his thoughts: “On the one hand, I’m happy that we are being considered olympic caliber athletes. There’s also a lot of speculation that [our inclusion in the Games] is going to screw with the integrity of our sport, but since the US Freeskiing brand is represented by the athletes, hopefully we’ll create a partnership that’s beneficial to us both. We’ll grow the sport, bring something new to the USSA, and bring back the cool factor in skiing. We’ll let people know that it’s something special to be on a US team, and to win an olympic medal for your country. When people see that, it’s a great opportunity to attract a young, fresh demographic.

We’re on the tour now, just got done with ESPN, and now heading over to the Wall Street Journal. Basically, we’re doing this tour to start the conversation, and let people know we’re here, we’re excited, and we’re a part of the olympics. It’s pretty exciting to be doing this in May, when normally the buzz around skiing is absent. This message will continue to grow thanks to lots of media exposure, and reach a broader audience. By the time next winter rolls around, we hope to have lots of people involved; new skiers, new sponsors, more people jumping on the bandwagon. It’s fun to be a part of.”

The brand design was unveiled this morning at the New York offices of DraftFCB. We spoke with USSA Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, Andrew Judelson, who gave credit to the firm, and expressed how excited he was to have collaborated with DraftFCB on the creative process, together with sport stakeholders. Judelson also shared his perspective on what the launch of this brand means for the USSA:

“From a strategic business perspective, the viewing and packaging of ski halfpipe, slopestyle, and skiercross is an opportunity for us to delineate those disciplines, because they are unique and different; clearly, they attract different demographics, fans, etc. We have a portfolio of brands that all need to work together, while maintaining their own clear definition. It’s important for us to capitalize on the point of difference, and subsequently monetize each for better funding of our athletes.

The process we went through was the right, pragmatic approach; the building of a brand by the athletes for the athletes. We’ve learned from collaboration, we wanted to do this the right way, and that was to pay a third party agency. We wanted to go through a comprehensive set of analytics and focus groups and research to enlist industry stake holders, athletes, agents, suppliers, corporate partners, media, and to have them all be involved in defining what became US Freeskiing, what it stands for, what’s authentic and real.

What we’re especially excited about is the scalability of this brand; the ability to reach and impact the recreational participant, but also to supply the suppliers with a scalable brand that resonates with a lot more people. We are quite excited, we’re doing things differently here now, and this launch is an example of that. And who’s talking about skiing in May? The USSA is. We’re getting the attention of the media, we’re getting recognized, and it’s awesome for everybody involved; that’s not always the case in a non-Olympic year. So, it’s early on, but so far so good. The market place is reacting accordingly.”

Years ago, the sport of freeskiing was born of sheer rebellion. Freeskier has been there from the get-go, and through the support of what is now “freeskiing,” through the creation of AFP, and now with our the partnership with USSA, we couldn’t be more excited to see the direction things are moving in. The breach from the norm is what continues to define our sport; the very idea keeps things young, progressive, and ever-changing.

You’ve heard it from the athletes, you’ve heard it from the USSA, and now, you’ll hear it from us: the creation of US Freeskiing is a promising step towards the continued growth of freeskiing. What lays ahead remains uncertain, but it seems all the appropriate steps have been taken to ensure we’re on the right track. So feel free to wear your sunglasses inside today, friends, because the future is looking mighty bright.