Last fall, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association decided to drop the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. But as it was quickly reminded, breaking up is never easy.
In September, the USSA, which currently oversees both the able-bodied and disabled U.S. ski teams, announced that it would end its governance and funding of the disabled team starting May 1. “We felt we were taking a step on behalf of disabled athletes,” says USSA spokes-person Tom Kelly. As a separate organization, he says, the disabled team would have better fund-raising and sponsorship opportunities.
Maybe so, but the disabled athletes felt blindsided. “This was done with no input from any of the athletes,” says disabled team member Muffy Davis. “What they the USSA trustees who voted for separation didn’t appreciate was the credibility and respect we gain by being full-fledged members of the U.S. Ski Team.”
Caught off guard by the athletes’ reaction, the USSA has since initiated discussions with disabled team members, and at press time a compromise solution seemed possible. “Right now, it’s just talk,” says Davis. “But at least there is talk.”
The U.S. Disabled Ski Team has won 122 Paralympic medals¿more than any other nation¿since the Paralympic Winter Games’ inception in 1992.