Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows to be one of the sites for nation’s best

Mikaela Shiffrin, of Eagle-Vail, passes a gate during a World Cup giant slalom in Squaw Valley, California.

Mikaela Shiffrin, of Eagle-Vail, passes a gate during a World Cup giant slalom in Squaw Valley, California.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will be home to the nation’s top skiers and snowboarders for the next five seasons after the resort was named an official training site of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced on Thursday, a five-year agreement with Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, making it one of five resorts in the country that are official training sites for the team.

The deal will keep a portion of the U.S. team’s training at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows through the 2022 Winter Olympics and marks the first time Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has received the designation, according to Public Relations Coordinator Sam Kieckhefer. U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes are likely to hit the mountain for training during the second week of April and into the second week of May.

The formal agreements between ski resorts and the team are relatively new, according to Todd Kelly, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski team program director, with the process of reaching a deal with U.S. Ski & Snowboard taking more than a year. Squaw has previously hosted informal training sessions for the U.S. team.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California, Deer Valley Resort in Utah, Copper Mountain in Colorado and Timberline Lodge Ski & Snowboard Area in Oregon are the other training sites across the country.

In addition to being an official training site for the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is a U.S. Ski & Snowboard High Performance Center and U.S. Ski & Snowboard Development Site.

“Since hosting the Olympics in 1960, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has produced some of our nation’s best skiers and snowboarders. As a World Cup venue, a NASTAR resort and home of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Ski Teams, both U.S. Ski & Snowboard gold certified clubs, it has demonstrated its commitment to supporting the development of athletes and providing the resources they need to succeed at the elite level,” Luke Bodensteiner, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s chief of sport, said in a statement.

“Squaw Valley’s designation as a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team training site not only provides elite-level training resources for our national team, but also creates resources in high performance and education that athletes, coaches and clubs in the region can all benefit from.”

As an official training site for the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will host U.S. team athletes for elite training sessions at the resort at key times during the season. Additionally, the High Performance Center and Development Center designations connect Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows staff with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Park City-based Center of Excellence and other high performance centers across the country to share best practices in strength and conditioning, sport science and sports medicine while also acting as a central training and education site for U.S. Ski & Snowboard clubs in the region.

“Being the only U.S. club to be designated as a US Ski & Snowboard Gold Certified Club, Development Site, High Performance Center and Official Training Site is a true honor,” said Kelly in a statement. “Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have a number of phenomenal on-hill training venues for all U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes and we look forward to welcoming them to our resort, and supporting their needs while they’re here. This designation also gives our great youth coaches access to additional resources available through U.S. Ski & Snowboard, allowing them to continue in their own development as coaches. Finally, there’s nothing better for our young athletes than the opportunity to watch, train alongside and get inspiration from some of our country’s best winter sports athletes.”

Host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, 1969 and 2017 FIS World Cups and, this year, the NASTAR National Championships, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has a long history in skiing and snowboarding.

“It’s one thing to see Mikaela (Shiffrin) and the girls at the World Cup, but you’re mixed in with 15,000 people,” said Kelly on the impact of being around world-class skiers and snowboarders for the Squaw Valley Ski Team. “To see them in a training camp environment and to be able to approach them is a key element … to see them in person and see that they are human and that, yes they work as hard or harder than the majority of people. That’s the biggest thing — seeing them in person … just watching their work habits.”

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has had athlete representation at every winter games since 1964, according to information from the resort, with many current and former U.S. Ski Team athletes crediting the resort’s diverse and challenging terrain for much of their success.

The resort currently has six athletes on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team — Bryce Bennett, Travis Ganong, Julia Mancuso, Erik Arvidsson, Nina O’Brien, and Keely Cashman — more than any other resort or race program in the country.

Staff writer Justin Scacco can be reached at 530-550-2643 or via email at jscacco@sierrasun.com


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