Posts Tagged ‘skiing’

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Monday, October 10th, 2011

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  • U.S. Freeskiing National Team Announced

    Thursday, June 16th, 2011

    PARK CITY, UT (June 15) – A first ever U.S. Freeskiing national team is being formed by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA). The formal plans were announced this week to nine invited athletes during a dryland training camp at the USSA Center of Excellence in Park City. The announcement comes on the heels of a decision by the International Olympic Committee to add halfpipe skiing to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

    Athletes invited to the first U.S. Freeskiing Pro Halfpipe Team for the 2011-12 season include some of America’s greatest stars of the newest Olympic sport including X Games champions Jen Hudak (Salt Lake City) and Simon Dumont (Bethel, ME). Nine athletes were invited based on competition results from the past season. The selection process for the inaugural Olympic team will be determined over the next two years with that team being named just prior to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

    “These are the best American athletes competing in the sport today,” said U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing Director Jeremy Forster. “They have played a key role in the formation of their sport and helped influence the IOC decision to include halfpipe skiing through their skills as athletes.”

    Under the new Pro Team program, U.S. Freeskiing will provide support for the athletes at both dryland and on-snow camps, plus competition programs including the U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix, X Games and other events. Athletes will also have access for training at the USSA Center of Excellence.

    In addition USSA also announced the veteran Head Halfpipe Coach Mike Jankowski (Portland, OR) will provide support for U.S. Freeskiing halfpipe athletes just as he does for the U.S. Snowboarding Pro Team.

    “Mike is one of the most knowledgeable halfpipe coaches in the sport and has a long track record of athletic success,” said Forster. “His knowledge and leadership will be an asset for our U.S. Freeskiing Pro Team athletes as an adjunct to the programs some of them already have in place on their own.”

    The U.S. Freeskiing sport program and brand was strategically developed over the past two years with anticipation of the IOC decision to include halfpipe skiing and slopestyle skiing (decision pending) in the Winter Olympics. The program was announced in concept in January, with the IOC selecting halfpipe skiing in April.

    “Freeskiing is a rapidly growing segment of the skiing market worldwide,” said USSA’s Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Andrew Judelson. “It provides us an opportunity to build further scale in our sport to attract partners to support athletes and to grow the overall base of skiers in America, as well.”

    The USSA has already announced a series of major partners with the new U.S. Freeskiing brand, including The North Face, Delta Air Lines and High Sierra. The North Face will play a major role leading up to 2014 as official uniform supplier for the U.S. Freeskiing Olympic Team.

    The Pro Team nominations were announced during the first dryland camp at the USSA Center of Excellence. Athletes underwent physical training and testing sessions, as well as trampoline work and an orientation to the USSA.

    The season will kick off with the U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix this December at Copper Mountain, CO. 

    2011-12 Nominated U.S. Freeskiing Halfpipe Pro Team: 

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    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.