Dan Leever, an ardent supporter of American ski racing and a former prospective candidate to replace Bill Marolt as President and CEO of USSA, has instead established the TA Foundation with a commitment to providing at least $500,000 in annual funding to improve the competitiveness of ski racing in the United States. The first initiative of the TA Foundation is the creation of Team America, an elite ski racing team based in Vail, Colo. that will provide up to 100% funding including housing and living expenses, equipment, training, coaching, travel, and camps, based on the criterion of “Speed and Need.” The team will operate in conjunction with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail as its men’s NorAm group.
“Ski racing is an expensive sport. The lack of funding at every level is an impediment to USA’s success on the World Cup, and at the World Championships and the Olympic Games. We hope our initiatives will move the needle in our nation’s competitiveness. Though we are not affiliated with the U.S. Ski Team, we are fully supportive of their efforts and see our program as complementary, not competitive,” remarked TA Foundation Chairman Dan Leever. Team America is not affiliated with USSA or the USOC.
If the name Team America rings a bell, that’s because Bode Miller used the moniker for his independent team of one during the 2007-2008 World Cup season when he distanced himself from the national team.
“Our thanks to Bode Miller for supporting the use of the name Team America,” continued Leever.
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail is excited to serve as the home of the newly funded elite training group.
“Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) is proud to partner with Team America in these initiatives,” said SSCV executive director Aldo Radamus. “Pursuing excellence in ski racing requires a great deal of commitment and hard work. These athletes take unconventional paths through life, seeking out supportive academic options and delaying careers and relationships. By providing coaching, training and financial support at a critical time in development, the athletes are allowed to focus on maximizing their potential without undue financial burden on themselves or their families.”
In its inaugural year, Team America will be comprised of four males who all hold top-15 world rankings in their respective age groups: Seppi Stiegler, Chris Acosta, Matt Strand, and Dan Leever’s own son Alex. Peter Lange, the former coach of Team Leever, will continue on as Team America’s head coach. Dr. Jim Taylor, noted sport psychologist, will work with the team throughout the year on mental preparation. Additionally, a team technician will be announced prior to the start of the season.
• Seppi Stiegler, 25, GS bronze medalist at the 2013 U.S. national championships, started in Kranjka Gora World Cup races in 2013
• Chris Acosta, 23, six-time All-American from the University of New Mexico
￼• Matt Strand, 20, U.S. world junior championships team from 2011-2013
• Alex Leever, 18, SL bronze medalist at the 2013 U.S. national championships in the junior category, represented U.S. in the 2012 Youth Olympic Games
“I have been involved in the evolution of Team America for just over three years, and it has been extremely rewarding and exciting,” noted head coach Peter Lange. “We are very fortunate to work with an ardent leader like Dan and the passionate athletes we train. We don’t, however, exist in a vacuum. The cooperation we receive from Sasha Rearick of the USST is essential to our athletic success and in selecting deserving athletes. Also, the cooperation we have from Aldo Radamus, director of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail and John Hale, the director of Loveland Ski Team, has been crucial to our accomplishments. This program is the product of many people’s contributions to our success. Hopefully, while providing opportunity to deserving athletes we will contribute to raising the level of passion for the sport in the USA.”
Team America is just the first initiative of the newly established TA Foundation. In 2013-2014, the foundation will offer financial support to other select, highly ranked athletes outside of Team America. The TA Foundation is also evaluating other initiatives for the future all of which will be focused on improving the competitiveness of ski racing in the U.S. at a significantly reduced cost. The TA Foundation is committed to annual funding of at least $500,000 for its initiatives.
Former U.S. Ski Team athlete Seppi Stiegler, younger brother of Resi, will use the support of Team America to continue to pursue his goals in the sport.
“Team America has empowered me to become the ski racer I always wanted to be. The professional level of coaching, funding, and support has put our team a step ahead of the competition. Team America understands our sport and creates an exciting environment where we can all strive to reach our maximum potential!” exclaimed Stiegler.