The history of USA Nordic and the US Cup follow similar paths, and both began in response to a need. USA Nordic was born out of the realization that either an organization would rise and take the lead or the sport would die in America. Similarly, the US Cup was created as a bridge from the junior ranks of American jumping to the international ranks of the best skiers in the world. Previously, without this bridge, too many athletes were falling through the cracks. And in the past 10 years, both have gone through multiple iterations and encountered many challenges. But the organization and the bridge are holding strong and more than that, expanding and improving.
The US Cup was the brainchild of Rex Bell, Alan Johnson, and Dan Mattoon. For much of its existence Dan has lead the charge. He brought it from a unknown combination of competitions with little coordination to the premiere domestic series, which athletes seek out in an effort to further their careers, and win a little cash while doing it. Dan has stepped back from his role over the last year, but his leadership in the first six years was invaluable and we all owe him for debt of gratitude for all his efforts.
Over the past 2-3 years, the US Cup has struggled a bit with athlete numbers. Ironically, much of this may be due to the success of our elite athletes. Our National team is now skiing almost exclusively on World Cup and Continental Cup because they are jumping at a level that makes these the most appropriate arena for their abilities. What this means however, is that there are less senior athletes left to ski in US Cups. It was with this in mind that the US Cup committee shifted focus this year, and made the US Cup class a U20 class, meaning open to athletes under the age of 20. The result has been an increase in numbers of elite juniors traveling to competitions, which has in turn grown the field sizes for both men and women. The series has also become a key component of qualifying our elite U20 athletes for the Junior National Team.
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A second significant and positive change this year has been USA Nordic livestreaming nearly all of the events. In the nine event series, six are being streamed live, and the viewership and social media presence has been astounding. Facebook visits spike each time one of the events is streamed on our page and we reached nearly 100,000 people on one livestream. That’s right, nearly 100,000 people! Ishpeming reached 96, 637 and Norge reached 88,284 people. We are also averaging over 5,000 views on our livestream.com page for each event. It is because of this that we have now been able to acquire a title sponsor for the series, and have been able to sell ad space. A huge thank you goes out to Dan Englund, Mike Johns, Alex Glueck, Tom Bickner, and Bill who have made this all possible.
We know that we can continue to improve the quality, and next steps include better sound and data for athlete names and scores, and we are working towards a unique, an in-house production that connects us with the world. We are also working towards increased participation and a higher level of competition overall. Ultimately we believe that the US Cup can and will be the bridge for our juniors and the stepping stone for seniors who have not quite made Continental or World Cup, but we need larger numbers for that to be a reality, and we believe those will come. Thank you organizers, thank you coaches, thank you parents, and of course thank you athletes for being part of this. We are excited for what is to come!
The next three events are as follows:
- Salisbury, CT, February 10th.
- Brattleboro, VT, February 17th, at 11 am (livestreamed)
- Lake Placid, NY, February 20th, at 11 am (livestreamed)
Current Standings can be found here: https://www.usanordic.org/results/