Western Day at Utah Olympic Park!

Ted Ligety and Brett Camerota in YWSA Hall of Fame

The following is an article posted on theskichannel.com.

Photo: The Ski Channel

PARK CITY, UT – World Champion alpine skier Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) and Olympic silver medalist for nordic combined Brett Camerota (Park City, UT) became the first inductees into the Youth Winter Sports Alliance Hall of Fame during the Alliance’s annual Circle of Excellence Awards May 25 in Park City.

Based in Utah’s Summit and Wasatch counties, the YWSA involves over 1000 children in a variety of sports activities each winter through programs supported by their 13 local clubs and organizations. Both Ligety and Camerota have roots in YWSA programs through the Park City Ski Team and the Park City Nordic Ski Club.

“Each of our organizations nominated one of their former athletes for the Hall of Fame,” said YWSA Executive Director Aimee Preston. “The committee then chose Ted and Brett because of their outstanding athletic success and because they’ve become such amazing people who continue to support the club they grew up with. They’re just great examples for our young athletes.”

Olympic combined gold medalist in 2006 and recent 2011 World Champion for giant slalom, Ligety (pictured left) continues to stay closely connected to the Park City Ski Team. Young racers make the trek to Beaver Creek, CO for the Audi Birds of Prey race week each winter.

Last winter was especially a good time for all the young racers. After Ligety won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, he took photographs and celebrated with his young fans. 
”I remember being one of those kids trying to hang out with my heros,” Ligety said after showing the kids how to raise their arms in victory after coming across the Winter Park finish line. “It’s important to help them out. Maybe one or two of them will be the next big star on the U.S. Ski Team.”

This win was the first of a three race win streak that eventually led Ligety to his third Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom title.

Photo: The Ski Channel

Camerota (pictured above), who spoke at the event, grew up with a view of the Utah Olympic Park. He got his own Olympic glory winning a silver medal in the team event at Vancouver. As a young skier with the Park City Nordic Ski Club, Camerota would go on to compete in three Junior World Championships in addition to two Olympics and World Championships. Now a student at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Camerota encouraged the young athletes to persist through discouraging times, citing a moment he considered giving up skijumping after a huge crash.

The awards ceremony also honored 73 young athletes for their accomplishments throughout the winter and recognized Russ Coburn and Pete Dunmire for their outstanding commitment to volunteerism.

For more information on the YWSA and its programs, check out www.ywsa.org.

Durban to beat its Olympics drum

The following is an article posted on Times LIVE.

Olympic Rings

Photograph by: EDDIE KEOGH via TimesLIVE

Durban is preparing to catapult itself to the head of the queue as the host of the 2020 summer Olympics.

In July, an expected 2000 affiliates and guests of the International Olympic Commitee (IOC) will take over the city for its 123rd annual meeting – a first for Africa.

The gathering, from July 4 to 9, will allow Durban to display its wares when the name of the host city for the 2018 winter Olympics is announced.

Among those due to attend is Fifa boss Sepp Blatter, a key figure in securing the 2010 World Cup for South Africa, as well as A-list dignitaries, royalty and heads of state .

Durban has already played host to Fifa at the 2007 preliminary draw for the World Cup.

Tubby Reddy of South Africa’s Olympic governing body, Sascoc, this week had the fifth and final meeting with IOC officials and declared the city ready to host the Olympic movement’s plenary session.

Reddy said of the July gathering: “It’s a major opportunity. Of the 115 IOC members who are coming, 99% will be making the final decision in Buenos Aires in 2013. That’s why it is so important – impressions stay.”

The city – despite facing competition from Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth – is the frontrunner, thanks to the King’s Park sports precinct.

It boasts the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which was built for the World Cup, the Sharks’ rugby stadium, King’s Park Aquatic Centre, athletic facilities, country club and Umgeni River.

Reddy said that after the plenary session, he would start the formal process ahead of the announcement of South Africa’s candidate city by September 1.

The key to Durban’s chances is ensuring that the plenary session is faultless.

The communications manager of King Shaka International Airport, Colin Naidoo, said airport staff were already working to avoid a repeat of the debacle during last year’s World Cup, when scores of VIP jets on the tarmac prevented many fans from reaching the semifinal match between Spain and Germany.

Durban has built a reputation as a top sports destination. Established annual events include the Durban July horse race, the Comrades Marathon and the Dusi canoe marathon.

Derek Parra: 9/11 inspired his 2002 medal haul in Salt Lake City

The following is an article posted on Tucsoncitizen.com by USA TODAY:

Sept. 11 initially blunted long-track speedskater Derek Parra’s Olympic aspirations.

“I was like, ‘Why am I skating around in circles when people are pulling loved ones out of the rubble at Ground Zero?’ ” he says.

“I felt useless. It was like, ‘Why am I doing this — it’s selfish.’ I contemplated not continuing to skate. It was the first time in my life I can remember being sad and depressed.”

Yet in the end, he says, Sept. 11 helped inspire him to become the first Mexican-American to win Winter Olympic gold in the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

Sept. 11, 2001, Parra was preparing for the Games, living and training in Utah and working part time at The Home Depot.

When he told co-workers of his thoughts about quitting, he says, “They were the ones that were getting behind me, saying, ‘You’ve got to do this; you’ve got to show these people they can’t take that away from us. Go out there and win the gold, do your best.’

“That’s when my focus leading into those Games became not about medals. It was about giving the families of the victims from 9/11, especially in our country, something to cheer about.”

He was scheduled to skate in the grueling 5,000-meter race on the first full day of competition. But when the invitation came to be one of eight U.S. athletes to carry the World Trade Center flag into the opening ceremony the night before, he accepted instead of resting.

The International Olympic Committee at first resisted the plan to include the tattered flag in the opening ceremony, not wanting to promote political or nationalistic displays. But after an outcry, the IOC agreed to have the flag — which also had been displayed at the World Series and Super Bowl— brought in as the U.S. national anthem was playing.

“That definitely inspired me. It touched me spiritually and emotionally,” Parra says.

The next day, he set a world record in the 5,000 meters — 15 seconds better than his personal best — en route to winning a surprise silver. Ten days later, he won 1,500-meter gold, setting an Olympic record.

The patriotism roused by Sept. 11, he says, helped propel him and the U.S. team overall to a record performance in 2002. U.S. athletes won 34 medals in Salt Lake City, nearly tripling the USA’s previous Winter Olympic best (13 medals in the 1998 and 1994 Games).

“There was something that was driving us,” he says. “Everybody was out there with us. We weren’t alone is why I think we had such a great Games.”

Learning of Osama bin Laden’s death Sunday brought Parra, a U.S. speedskating coach in 2010 and the youth outreach director for the Utah Athletic Foundation, memories from the 2002 Games and a sense of contentment.

“I think the world is a better place without someone like that in it,” he says.

Women’s ski jumping event added to 2014 Sochi Games

Below is an article on the Women’s Ski Jumping USA website:

Women’s ski jumping event added to 2014 Sochi Games

Lindsey Van Ski Jump

LONDON, April 6, 2011 — For the first time in Olympic Winter Games history, women will participate in ski jumping, beginning in Sochi, Russia in 2014.

The International Olympic Committee made the announcement today during the IOC Executive Board’s press conference in London, site of the 2012 Summer Games.

Lindsey Van and Deedee Corradini react to IOC announcement.“We are elated and relieved,” said Deedee Corradini, Women’s Ski Jumping USA president. “Sochi, Russia can proudly proclaim that it will be hosting the first gender-equal Winter Games in Olympic history.” Ski jumping (and Nordic Combined) were the only disciplines in the Winter Games that did not allow women to participate.

In October 2010, the IOC EB said it was “looking favorably” at adding women’s ski jumping to Sochi 2014, but said it needed more time to consider the outcome of the sport’s 2011 World Championships in Oslo in February. In grueling weather conditions and in front of nearly 10,000 spectators, 43 athletes from 15 nations competed in Oslo compared to 36 athletes from 13 nations in Liberec, Czech Republic in 2009. Five of the top six finishers in Oslo were from different countries and ranged in age from 27 to 14.

IOC senior members Gunilla Lindberg and Gerhard Heiberg, a winter sports expert, both publically praised the women’s event in Oslo — a positive pre-cursor to today’s announcement.

Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Sports Director, said Wednesday the main reason a women’s event  was approved for Sochi 2014 is the increase in quality and depth in women’s ski jumping from the  2009 World Championships to the 2011 Worlds.

The International Ski Federation had recommended twice to the IOC to include women’s ski jumping in Sochi; three World Championships will have taken place before 2014; and a new World Cup circuit starts in 2011/2012.

“I am thrilled the IOC decided to add our sport. Personally, this means a lot to me. I started ski jumping when there were no international women’s competitions,” said 26-year-old Lindsey Van, the 2009 World Champion. “Women’s ski jumping has been growing over the past 10 years, but inclusion in the Olympics is what our sport needed to take the next step. 

“We’ve worked really hard as athletes fighting for our sport, so this feels like a big success,” Van said.

Participation in women’s ski jumping continues to increase worldwide. Since 2006, when the IOC turned down a women’s ski jumping event for 2010, at least three more countries have women ski jumpers competing at the elite level including Romania, Russia and China. In that same year, 83 women from 14 nations were registered to compete on the FIS Continental Cup and in 2010, those numbers increased to 182 women from 18 nations.

“It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. To have it accepted feels amazing,” said veteran U.S. jumper Jessica Jerome, who finished sixth overall this season. “This decision gives our sport more validity in the sense that it can only keep growing from here.”

 

Youth Ski Jumping at the Utah Olympic Park

Here is a video of kids ski jumping at our venue. They are enrolled in our sport development  programs.

New Spring Hours

 

We have new hours for spring.

The Utah Olympic Park is now open 7 days a week from 10am – 6pm. We offer hourly guided tours that depart at the top of each hour. The first tours starts at 11am and the last tour of the day is at 4pm.

While visiting the Utah Olympic Park, enjoy the 2002 Eccles Winter Olympic Games Museum and the Alf Engen Ski Museum. Admission in to the museum is free.

For more information please call 435-658-4200 or http://www.olyparks.com

Women Lead Rebirth in College Ski Jumping

Lindsey Van Ski Jump

Here is an article about women’s nordic ski jumping  from the New York Times:

Women Lead Rebirth in College Ski Jumping

By BILL PENNINGTON

On Saturday, for the first time in 31 years, there will be a United States collegiate ski jumping championship. And for the first time, it will include women.

The competition in Park City, Utah, is being sanctioned by the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association, a federation of nearly 200 universities representing about 5,000 athletes that has been an alternative to N.C.A.A.-sponsored ski racing for three decades.

The N.C.A.A., which has a dozen Division I ski racing institutions and more than 30 affiliated ski teams over all, dropped ski jumping from its national championship in 1980, a move viewed as a death knell to ski jumping in the United States.

Soon, dozens of ski jumps were torn down or shuttered. And without collegiate ski jumping to aspire to, hundreds of high school ski jumping programs were abolished.

This year’s initiative is seen as a rebirth. It may be a baby step, with about 20 competitors, but it is being portrayed as a symbolic one, especially because it will include women at a time when there is no female ski jumping in the Winter Olympics.

“It’s kind of a ‘Field of Dreams’ moment,” said John Jacobs, the association’s board member who spearheaded the move to include ski jumping for the 2011 regular season and national championship. “We wanted to tell all the junior ski jumpers around the country, hey, don’t give up. Because we’re here waiting for them as they get older. And everyone is welcome.”

Danielle Lussi, a freshman at Harvard, qualified for Saturday’s nationals.

“It’s always been a bit deflating for young girls who jumped because they had little to look forward to,” Lussi said. “This will keep a lot of young jumpers in the sport. I’ve already been telling some of the younger ones, ‘Hey, did you know you can do this in college now?’ ”

In addition to ski jumping, the association has sanctioned Nordic combined, a combination of cross-country skiing and ski jumping. The organization also sponsors competitions in snowboarding and in Alpine, freestyle and cross-country skiing. Most of the more than 500 teams in the association are considered club programs at their institutions, although most have paid coaches and some have six-figure budgets.

Ski jumping was once the N.C.A.A.’s most prominent snow sport competition. The first national ski championship was in 1954, with hundreds of jumpers and thousands of spectators. Many colleges, including Dartmouth, Williams, Middlebury and Colorado, had ski jumps.

But according to Chip LaCasse, who sat on the board of the N.C.A.A. skiing rules committee at the end of the 1970s, there was pressure on the college ski community to consolidate — or lose its N.C.A.A. backing.

“They wanted one ski championship combining the results of the men and the women teams,” said LaCasse, who headed the powerhouse University of Vermont ski program for 34 years.

He added: “Title IX was becoming a bigger factor in decisions, and when we went to merge the men and the women, we looked at ski jumping and knew we had a problem. Because back then there was no women’s ski jumping championship. There were only about three or four women jumpers in the whole nation.”

LaCasse said: “I was a college ski jumper and I love the sport. But I voted, like the rest of the rules committee, to eliminate ski jumping. I did it to save skiing as an N.C.A.A. sport. I did it for the greater good.”

Within a few years, the ski jumps at Dartmouth, Williams and Middlebury disappeared. So did dozens of high school jumps.

“Ski jumps around the country just vaporized,” said Alan Johnson, the athletic director of USA Ski Jumping, which has become the closest thing to a national governing body of elite-level jumping. “The number of jumpers declined and there wasn’t enough money.”

Local clubs remained and offered training near jumps where the following was passionate. But Walter Malmquist, who competed for the United States at the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics, noticed a steady decline.

“We used to have 150 participants at competitions,” said Malmquist, who helps coach junior jumpers in New Hampshire. “Not that long ago, we were having trouble getting 30 or 40.”

In the last decade, however, there was a sudden surge in the number of jumpers registered with the United States Ski Association. There were 411 registered in 2000 and 602 in 2006, dipping to 532 in 2009.

Many in the ski community credited an influx of young female ski jumpers.

“About 40 percent of our new ski jumpers are girls,” Malmquist said. “It may have been seen as a male sport 30 years ago, but these girls don’t know about that, or care.”

At the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in Colorado, half the jumpers in the developmental program are female. Jay Rand, executive director of the New York Ski Education Foundation, which runs programs at the Olympic Jumping Complex at Lake Placid, said 12 of his organization’s 45 junior jumpers were girls.

On Wednesday, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee said he would recommend that women’s ski jumping be included in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. While the I.O.C. twice voted against adding the sport for the 2010 Vancouver Games, late last year its board said it was weighing it “favorably.” A decision is expected in April.

Some of the best female jumpers in the world are Americans. Lindsey Van of Park City won the inaugural women’s world championship in 2009, though she failed to defend her title last week.

This year, the ski and snowboard association sanctioned 10 regular-season jumping events. The field for Saturday’s event will be small, but several members of the jumping community predicted that as word of the initiative spread, the number of collegiate jumpers and Nordic combined athletes would blossom.

“It is a first start, but in five years, we absolutely will have 50 jumpers, or more, qualifying for nationals,” said Laura Sullivan, the association’s executive director. “The phone began ringing off the hook as soon as we announced we were doing this. You’ve got to give the colleges a little time to get organized and to find the jumpers, but that whole jumping community is very aware and excited.

“We’ve been through this with other sports. So far, the growth in ski jumping has been faster than when we added snowboarding.”

Karin Friberg, 21, who will jump Saturday representing the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, said she had been pointing toward the event for months.

“In the past, there were a lot of 16- to 18-year-old ski jumpers who would come to the realization that they weren’t going to make the national team and they would just give up the sport,” Friberg said. “It was a shame. But now there is a new opportunity. There will definitely be jumpers who choose to go to college so they can keep jumping. College ski jumping will become a destination.”

Friberg wondered if it might even raise the quality of American Olympic-level jumping.

“Not everyone peaks at 18,” she said. “It’s good to keep as many of us out there as we can. Besides, what’s more fun than flying through the air?”

Luge: Speaking with Erin Hamlin

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at universalsports.com:

At the 2009 Luge World Championships in Lake Placid, American Erin Hamlin snapped a streak of 99 consecutive races won by German women. In January, she’ll get her chance to defend that crown.

A German woman has won every race since Hamlin’s shocker, including the 2010 Olympics, so a title defense is just as daunting a task. But the 24-year-old is a contender to land on the podium every week, and she checked in with us via email before the season begins in Austria.

The Olympics came at the end of your World Cup season last year. Did you travel afterward?
Yes I did actually. I went to Kauai with a couple of other athletes. It was a short trip because I had to be back in Lake Placid for Nationals. But still worth it! I had never been to Hawaii and now I cannot wait to go back. I will as soon as I can!

How do you typically spend your off seasons?
I generally spend a few weeks at home in Remsen, NY to get away from the athlete/sports world for a little while. I still train, but often in different ways. Mainly just stay active, and then in late April or May I begin training pretty hard. That runs through the entire summer, which is normally spent in Lake Placid, NY. My trainer, Jason Hartman, has been there and we have our start-training facility, so it is the most logical place for me to be.

Is there less pressure going into this season because it’s not an Olympic year?
I would say the atmosphere brings less pressure, but mainly because there is a lot less hype. But since this will be the first World Championships since I won in Lake Placid I definitely feel like I have to perform at a level that would represent that. With our completely new program (coaches, etc.) it is easy to push that aside, though, and just be excited to race and see what this new chapter will offer.

Click here to read the entire article.

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