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US Ski & Snowboard Association CEO Tiger Shaw flips on the light switch in one of the four rooms at the Tempur-Pedic Sleep Center, located inside USSA’s Park City headquarters, the Center of Excellence. A poster from the 1984 Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo hangs on the wall above a simply made bed and nightstand. Here, the country’s best skiers and snowboarders work on a typically underrated but critical part of athletic performance: sleep. “[When she’s in town,] Mikaela Shiffrin takes afternoon naps here every day,” Shaw says. “She’s been experimenting with the best way to use it for maximum effectiveness. She finds it very rejuvenating.”

Shiffrin and her USSA teammates collectively earned an unprecedented 17 medals at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. She’s one of many athletes on the whom-to-watch shortlist heading toward the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. And while meeting—and even beating—USSA athletes’ impressive Sochi results is a top priority for Shaw, he’s even more focused on what he considers the much-needed next step: building awareness for USSA overall, from top-tier athletes to kids interested in trying ski racing for the first time. “We took an introspective look at where we are and knew we needed—and wanted—to become more inclusive, to reach out more. The question became: What do we need to do to become more relevant to everyone who wants to participate in our sports?

The answer manifested in two ways. The first was replacing USSA’s $25 club membership with a $15 annual general membership (required by many ski clubs for liability reasons) that features expanded benefits like Global Rescue Service Hotline access and excess accident insurance. “I want to make sure that all skiers and snowboarders—Olympians past, present, and future; development team kids; Masters racers; volunteers; officials; and everyone in between—know that being a USSA member is accessible to all,” Shaw says. And the second: acquiring NASTAR (NAtional STAndard Race), the largest public grass-roots ski-race program in the world. (For more about NASTAR, see page 57.) “[Having NASTAR] provides a continuous spectrum of athletes—from Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn all the way down to kids who want to try racing on a [NASTAR course] for the first time—who can now compare
themselves to the fastest skiers in the country. Through NASTAR, the aspirational brand of the ski team is right there for them to touch, feel, see, and race against.”

Shaw’s desire to make USSA more accessible extends to himself as well. He raced alpine in Sarajevo in ’84 and again at Calgary in ’88 and won nine US titles along the way before retiring from racing in ’91. Before taking the helm of USSA in March 2014, Shaw (a Stowe, Vermont, native and proud Dartmouth alumnus) cofounded DealerWire, a software and service provider for car-dealership management now owned by Dealertrack, Inc. And from 2011 to 2014, he was senior director of response services for Global Rescue, a travel-risk and crisis management company. He and his wife, Kristin, have three children who race on local ski teams and attend Park City schools. “I sense I have buy-in with elite athletes because I’ve been there, done that, so I understand where they are, who they are, and what drives them,” Shaw says. “I also have an extensive background in being a parent of ski racers, running a ski club, and coaching young athletes. I’ve done it all, which buys me a lot of credibility with all other USSA groups as well.”

Shaw is also committed to making sure climate change remains part of the sport conversation. While the possibility of it affecting snow when the shortlist heads to PyeongChang—and especially Beijing, China in 2022—is very real, he says, the diminishing snowpack is a problem much bigger than a cancelled ski race. “Any given winter’s deficiency can be overcome with technology through snowmaking and refrigerated ski jumps. Our sports will be fine from a competitive standpoint. That doesn’t mean we aren’t incredibly concerned as humans. Technology is not a long-term solution. We’re very interested in supporting all causes that address global warming and increase awareness. We see the physical impact more so than the average person. When I go to a glacier in Europe that I haven’t been to in 25 years, and it’s a mile shorter, I get it.”

After a year and a half at his post, what part of the job does Shaw feel is the most important, if not the most challenging? “I find it interesting that I can’t just go on my own gut,” he says. “I need consensus and alignment, both in terms of the staff and constituents, or ‘family,’ of the ski and snowboarding world. It’s taken more than a year to get it, but I feel like we’re getting there.”

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