Vail’s Thomas Walch was one of 18 athletes named Thursday to the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing National and Development Teams, as reported by Kristen Gowdy on TeamUSA.org.
Walsh is one of 12 named athletes who competed at the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing, where he won a silver medal in the men’s standing giant slalom. It was his first Paralympic medal.
Audrey Crowleyalso from Vail, was named to the five-person development team, along with fellow coloradans Kyle Taulman (Winter Park) and Martin Moxley (Grand Junction).
Crowley, 15, was the United States National Champion in women’s standing slalom and giant slalom at 14 years old in 2021. A skier must be 15 years old to be named to the national team. Crowley was also a recipient of the Live for Those Who Cannot Scholarship, which allowed the SSCV athlete to attend a ski camp at Mt. Hood last summer.
Combined team on the horizon?
The International Olympic Committee may have ruled out the women’s Nordic combined, the original Winter Olympic sport, early last month (and men’s Nordic combined is on the 2030 chopping blockaccording to Shelby Reardon of the Steamboat Pilot), but it is now possible that events will also be added to the Olympic calendar.
Ski racing Pierre Lange reported on Friday that while the parallel team will not be challenged at the Milan/Cortina 2026 Games, the idea of a combined team “emerged” from the Alpine Athletes Committee.
The idea was proposed by committee members Verena Stuffer (Italy) and Leif Haugen (Norway), according to Lange.
“We would see the best alpine and slalom skiers from each country. Afterwards, it would be a dramatic event for spectators and athletes. Plus, it would provide another medal opportunity,” Haugen said in the ski racing article.
“Verena came up with a great solution. It has not been easy to see the validity of the Alpine Combined in its current form. Very few people in the world can ski both world class speed and slalom.
Eliminating the parallel team is partly logistical, according to Lange. FIS board meetings in Zurich have “clarified the exclusion”, noting the distance between male and female venues.
In addition, the Alpine Combined, although rich in American successes in the past, has experienced a loss of participation. According to Lange, “The IOC is concerned that only 26 women and 27 men participated in the event in Beijing.” Mikaela Shiffrin won a silver medal at the PyeongChang Games and competed in the event in Beijing.
Patrick Riml, the new US Alpine director, would be enthusiastic about the possibility.
“We would see the best downhill and slalom skiers from each nation throughout the event,” he told Lange.
“Returning the top 30 downhill would mean the event would have sustained excitement, almost identical to a two-run race.”
Gene Sykes elected Chairman of the USOPC Board of Directors
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced Friday that Gene Sykes has been elected as the next chair of the board, succeeding Susanne Lyons when her term ends Dec. 31.
“I offer my congratulations and a warm welcome to Gene on his selection as the next Chairman of the Board of Directors,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said in the statement.
“This role requires us to not only work together as partners, but also to bring together the perspectives of our diverse sports and board ecosystem, and help set a course for the organization to serve against its mission of holistic athlete support, and the growing participation and prominence of Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United States.
Sykes left his position as co-chairman of Global Mergers and Acquisitions and co-chairman of the Global Technology, Media and Telecom Group at Goldman Sachs & Co. to join the Los Angeles Olympic Bid Committee as CEO. In 2017, the International Olympic Committee awarded the city the 2028 Games.
“I am pleased to accept this role and grateful for the trust placed in me by the Board of Directors and the US Olympic and Paralympic community,” Sykes said in the statement. “I look forward to working with Sarah, the USOPC staff, our great NGB partners and everyone who supports the Olympic and Paralympic movements.
The vote took place during a special session of the USOPC board of directors, during which the nominees had “time to promote their candidacy”. An open discussion and vote by Council members followed. Sykes was running against Dexter Paine, a current board member of “Deep ties to the ski community and the more than 50 national governing bodies that govern individual sports across America,” according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press reported that the 17-member board’s decision “should be greeted with concern by leaders of the National Governing Bodies (NGBs), who have recently criticized USOPC’s leadership, primarily because of this which they say has been steady income and lack of communication.”
“Two key groups, Athletes and NGBs, overwhelmingly favored Paine in a handful of informal polls taken last month on who the next president should be,” the AP story continued.
The key issue Sykes faces, according to the AP, will be tackling a “diminishing fanbase,” following “dismal TV ratings » of the last two Olympic Games.