US ski, snowboard teams fueled by positive results

By Lynn Debruin

Associated Press

Published: Friday, March 2 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Before the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002, the USSA set a goal of winning 10 medals. Mission accomplished.

In 2006, they won 10 medals again, but more gold than ever.

In Vancouver, 17 athletes won 21 medals — a record for the U.S.

Midway through the next Olympic cycle, there's reason to hope for a repeat performance.

USSA officials believe it helps having a $22.5 million, 85,000-square-foot world-class training facility in Park City, Utah. At the Center of Excellence, everything from bungee trampolines for aerial training to ramps for snowboarding and freestyle tricks are available to athletes, along with a large cardio center, weight room, nutrition center and rehab facilities.

"It's a great illustration of the concept of team," said Luke Bodensteiner, USSA's vice president of athletics.

"There was a point in time when I remember different sports were disconnected from each other and often saw each other as competitors for funding, attention and support. All of a sudden we had all the teams training together and all the support staff around those teams every day. Having them under the same roof reminded everybody every day what they're working for. It created this great team spirit across all our sports."

While some will always remember Shaun White's high-flying halfpipe run in Vancouver or Bill Demong's gold in Nordic combined, another image ingrained in Bodensteiner's mind came on the first night of competition.

Snowboarders had gathered around a TV in the house they were staying in to watch moguls.

"As soon as they realized Hannah Kearney won gold, the house exploded," Bodensteiner said. "They were all so excited.'"

With the recent string of success, the team spirit has only continued to build.

"It has been the most fun season I can remember," said Randall, who still has the pink jacket from the now-retired Schleper.

"This year can be a very telling year for the team," she said. "There's not as much attention on the results. We're not in the media as much. But the fact that everybody is taking this year seriously serves us well, and will the next two years."

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