In a move to better market speedskating to potential skaters and businesses, the U.S. International Speed-skating Association announced a working agreement with the U.S. Ski Team.
In a joint press conference Monday, Bill Cushman, president of the USISA, said the skating group was moving its offices from Colorado Springs, Colo., to the offices of the Ski Team in Park City.The USSA and USISA are two of the seven winter National Governing Boards in the U.S. International Olympic Committee. Other members are hockey, figure skating, biathlon, bobsled and luge.
Cushman said what prompted the move was a need to better market speedskating.
"Despite our success (21 individual world champions and 26 Olympic medals since 1968), we haven't been able to get the funding we've needed.
"We've been able to fund our elite skaters, but we haven't been able to help skaters in the development and grass-roots programs. That's where we need help," he said.
According to Karl Anderson, assistant executive director for the USSA, the skating group will be able to use office staff, press personnel and the marketing department.
Currently the U.S. Ski Team gets about 10 percent of its funding from the U.S. Olympic Committee, while the speed-skaters rely almost entirely on funding from the USOC. "I'd say we get about 97 percent of our money. Like I said, it's enough to fund the elite skaters, but not other programs," Anderson said.
The move is seen, too, as a boost to Utah's Winter Olympic bid.
Dave Johnson, a member of the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee, said it has long been a goal to develop a winter training center in Salt Lake City.
"We never thought we'd get speedskating (the USISA) here, but through the work of the U.S. Ski Association, it had happened."We're busy building the facilities here in Salt Lake City, but we need the infrastructure to train the athletes. What we need, also, is to make the facilities useful to Utahns and the athletes."
There has been talk of building a speedskating track in Salt Lake City, but a site has yet to be completed.
One speedskating official admitted that it was important for that track to be built in Salt Lake City.
"Currently, there are only three (year-round tracks) in the United States - one in Milwaukee, one in Lake Placid and one in Butte. We need one to help develop skating out west. A track in Salt Lake would be ideal," he said.
Cushman said if a track were built in Salt Lake City, and with a good grass-roots program, "I think it's very possible to have an Olympian coming out of Salt Lake within five to 10 years."
The USISA boasts 3,500 members nationwide.