USSA To Support Disabled Athletes

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Park City, UT Mar. 27--The board of directors of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) voted March 25 in Jackson Hole, WY to continue to support the U.S. Disabled Ski Team pending U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) action on Paralympic sports. The vote came on the heels of recent positive steps on the part of the USOC to address this critical issue in a constructive fashion.

"Following a recent meeting between our CEO Bill Marolt with the new USOC CEO Norman Blake, Jr., we are optimistic that theUSOC will deal aggressively with the issue of Paralympic sports in America," said USSA's Chief Operating Officer Bill Gorton. "Iam confident that Mr. Blake will move quickly to solve the Paralympic governance issue. The issue of how to govern paralympicathletes is of the greatest importance to all athletes, not just the disabled athletes."

The direction of Paralympic sports governance came into question with changes to the Amateur Sports Act in the fall of1998. The Congressional Act governs Olympic, and now Paralympic, sport in America under the direction of the U.S. OlympicCommittee. With no overall USOC action plan in place, USSA's executive committee in August, 1999 adopted its own plan forestablishing governance of disabled skiing in response to the changes in the Amateur Sports Act.

In February, some members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team filed a grievance challenging the executive committee's August,1999 action. In a March 9 action, USSA's judicial committee denied the grievance and upheld the action of the executivecommittee. However, in light of USOC recent efforts and based on the recommendation of the executive committee at theboard meeting, the full USSA board voted March 25 to not ratify the action. Pending final action by the USOC on the issue ofgovernance of Paralympic sport, the USSA will continue to support the U.S. Disabled Ski Team as it has in the past.