As they say, History repeats itself, and once again the U.S. Ski Team cannot afford to fund their athletes, including me. After one of the best seasons in the history of U.S. Skiing (2 overall World Cup Titles, 3 discipline titles, 15 World Cup wins, and 37 Podiums) the National Team, led by Alpine Coordinator Jesse Hunt, does not have the financial backing to fully fund their team. What's wrong with this picture? As of now the athletes who are not funded include Erik Schlopy, who happens to be one of our best skiers and a 3-time Olympian, 7-time National Champion, World Championship Bronze Medalist, and 3rd place overall World Cup G.S. skier...again, what's wrong with this picture? Dane Spencer, also one of our best skiers, is coming back from a near fatal injury and happens to be a 2-time Olympian and National Champion. Oddly Dane was not even named to the team, even though this was his first year back after breaking his neck and crushing his pelvis. Dane and I were both given access to train with the National Team on our own dime, which is proposed to cost between $20,000 and $30,000 for the Season. Furthermore, Jake Zamansky (currently ranked 5th in the U.S. and 54th in the World in G.S.) who earned a World Cup spot by winning the Nor Am G.S. standings has been ostracized from the U.S. Ski Team and is not even allowed to pay his way to train with the World Cup Team...once again, what's wrong with this picture? Just wait; there's more. Recently the entire Men's C-Team was told they have to pay for the competition portion of their season, which will cost each of them $10,000. The C-Team includes the best up and coming athletes in our country including Will Brandenburg, who is ranked 1st in the World for his age, and Travis Ganong, who is one of the best 4 event skiers I have seen since Bode Miller. Do I dare say it again...what's wrong with this picture?
I'll tell you what's wrong. Our organization, or "company" as upper management likes to call it, has lost site of their core values. To put it bluntly, Jesse Hunt (our Alpine Coordinator) summarized it best by saying "the organization is not going the direction of the athlete/individual." This was a direct quote that I received from Hunt when I asked for help in my recovery from my injury. If the organization is not going the direction of the individual (keep in mind skiing is an individual sport, not a team sport) then where is it going? I'll tell you where. It's going to the pockets of the upper management, specifically CEO Bill Marolt, who egregiously recorded a $300,000 bonus this season on top of his already high $700,000/year salary (up from $559,880 in 2004). That's right, over $1million dollars for the CEO of a non-profit organization that can't even afford to sufficiently fund their own athletes...that's what's wrong with this picture! (Although I cannot find this year's accounting information as of yet, I have a reliable source within the organization that backs this claim). Either way you look at it, Marolt is overpaid, and although he is entitled to a good salary due to the stellar results the Team posted this year, his athletes are suffering.
What makes the problem worse and harder to swallow; is that all of us were told by Hunt that the Ski Team is downsizing because he believed it was best for "everybody." By everybody I'm assuming he meant executives like himself and Marolt, so they could cut athletic funding yet maintain his astronomical salary for a non-profit organization *(I make this claim in light of study done in 2007 by Charity Navigator, which keeps an eye out on non-profit organizations, and found that the average salaries for non-profit executives fell around $145,270). Hunt's poor excuse for a cover-up did not resonate well with current Ski Team members, as none of them agree with his philosophy to downsize. Furthermore, every single named athlete protested Hunt's decision to cut Dane Spencer, Jake Zamansky and myself because it was unethical and downright illegal in Zamansky's case. I say illegal because Zamansky actually made the Ski Team's published criteria for his age, and is entitled to a spot on the team regardless of any individual criteria he was given. That's what's wrong with this picture!
So, to answer any questions about my position with the team here it is. I am not a named athlete, but I am able to train with the World Cup Team on my own dime, and compete for World Cup spots next season. My plan is to solidify my comeback and attend to the unfinished business I left on the hill after my injury. If you are interested in joining my comeback I welcome any and all support.
Thanks for listening...