Only 18 ski clubs previously achieved gold status. Sun Valley was rated a silver club three years ago in the initial certification.
“It’s exciting because it’s a level of credibility and validation to what we’re doing here,” said Phil McNichol, the athletic director for the SVSEF and a former head coach for the U.S. men’s alpine ski team. “... It was a very healthy and productive process for us to be put under a magnifying glass.”
The club has a record membership of more than 650 athletes this season with programs ranging from learning to ski and race (ages 6 to 11) to post-graduate competition (ages 18-20) to the Olympic-development Gold Team. Ninety percent of the athletes come from the Wood River Valley, McNichol said.
The jump from silver to gold involved making many small improvements, McNichol said, primarily on the business/organization side.
“We didn’t have any one dramatic soft spot,” he said, “but we just had a number of refinements to do across the continuum.”
The USSA considers gold clubs to be the “best in the world” and “serve as a model, both organizationally and athletically.”
“SVSEF has demonstrated excellence in all areas and is recognized as an important partner of USSA and a leader among USSA clubs,” Ellen Adams, club development manager for USSA, said in a press release. “We look forward to continuing to work together.”
SVSEF also has been identified as a U.S. Olympic/Paralympic Training Site.