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.
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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.