USSMA Spring Update

Greetings from the USSMA! 

April is upon us and with it Spring skiing is now in full force.  We hope you are taking advantage of the longer days, warmer temps and a conditioned body (through skimo Racing of course) to enjoy this great time of year!

For many of us the skimo race season has ended. There are however, still a few great races on the calendar (see below).  Whether you’re still racing or you’ve moved on to other activities, the USSMA wants to thank everyone for a great season.  What a season it was!  In gathering data for an International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF) survey, we counted almost 100 ski mountaineering races in the US this season.  The growth of our sport is undeniable and statistics like this are indicative of the direction the sport is heading.  Congratulations and thank you to everyone that has raced, directed, volunteered, hosted, supported, cheered and participated in a skimo race or event in any way, shape or form.  You are the reason the sport is growing and you are the reason we have been successful.


USSMA AAC Survey Results

Earlier this season the USSMA Athlete Advisory Council distributed a survey to all USSMA members and other skimo participants.  In receiving the results of this survey the USSMA obtained incredibly valuable information from well over 100 racers.  The USSMA is in the process of addressing the results of the survey and working ways to create actionable steps forward to address the issues, concerns and interests of all skimo athletes.  In the interim, here are a few statistics to digest:

       Over 90% of participants are willing to pay between $25-$50 for an annual USSMA membership to help promote, grow and govern the sport of skimo in the United States.

       As benefits for USSMA membership, survey participants would like to receive (choosing their top 2) Clinics (65%), Education (45%) and Retail discounts (47%).

       The majority of skimo athletes identify as athletes from trail running (68%), mountain biking (44%), sport climbing (24%), and road biking (17%).

       To help grow the sport, people felt the USSMA should have more videos and hands on clinics in order to teach people about the sport.  Short, fun videos and clinics with National Team/Coaches will help promote and grow the sport. 

       To attract more beginners, the USSMA should have more non-competitive skimo events, non-competitive races, kids races, and beginner only clinics.

       The top reasons people participate in skimo races is to ski beautiful terrain (81%) and go hard and fast (74%) and to socialize (50%). 

        65% of participants consider the National Points and Race Series important to them.

       The biggest challenges for racers are course marking (74%), poor information dissemination (45%) and poor or no skin tracks (29%).

       The preponderance of those surveyed would like to see World Championship team qualifying races in Colorado (54%) and Utah (47%) followed by Wyoming (18%) and Vermont (17%).

       Most people get their USSMA news via emails,, Facebook in that order.  And 75% of those surveyed follow USSMA on some sort of social media.  

The USSMA is committed to its members (present and future) and is addressing the results of the survey with the intention to invoke changes and adjustments where necessary in order to meet member desires. 


From the Race Department

The season is nearing an end, but there are still a few big events on the calendar in the coming weeks and months.

       Father Dyer Postal Route Race - 4/8 Leadville, CO

       Beartooth Basin Summer Shredfest - 6/17 Beartooth Pass, MT (west of Redlodge)

2017/18 National Points Series rankings have now been posted! Click here to see results!


A Glimpse at Next Season

The USSMA National Race Series will return next season and planning has already begun.  With the absence of the World Championships the National Race Series will be the focal point of the race scene.  The USSMA intends to ensure these races are top notch, fun, challenging and competitive.  We'll also be reviewing the points series to ensure it's a competitive and fair ranking system.


Organizational Structure

The USSMA is establishing new bylaws that will align the governing body with the requirements outlined by the US Olympic Committee (USOC) to ensure the USSMA is recognized as the official sports organization aligned as a USOC member.  Furthermore, the USSMA is routinely in contact with the ISMF to ensure skimo racing in the U.S. is in compliance with ISMF standards and regulations.  As the sport progresses towards Olympic status we can assure all USSMA members that USA Ski Mountaineering will be amongst the first to know and implement new policies and regulations to ensure athletic and organizational compliance.


Budget and Fundraising

With the vision to grow the sport and the dream of a US Skimo Olympic Team in mind, the USSMA has begun establishing a budget to support such an endeavor.  As you might imagine this is not easy nor does it amount to a small budget, but dreams are not worth dreaming if they’re not big.  The USSMA is dreaming big and therefore has people actively soliciting sponsorships and donations in order to underwrite our lofty objectives.  We anticipate establishing relationships with sponsors that will enable the USSMA to financially support, in parts, a National Team, Developmental Clinics and other such ventures that will grow the sport and improve our international standing. 


Marketing and Outreach

The USSMA wants to improve communication to ensure you have the information you need to race, learn, socialize and participate in any and all skimo events across the U.S.  With this, we hope to update our website ( over the summer.  However, with limited resources to enable such an upgrade we are seeking out individuals with web development skills that would be interested in volunteering to assist with this important task?  If this is something you would like to assist with please reach out to



The people have spoken! The word is that the people want more from the USSMA and are willing to give more to get more.  The USSMA is working toward defining the best ways we can add value to membership and plan to roll out a new annual license program for next season that is beneficial to the members and the organization.  Stay tuned.


In Closing

Its been an incredible year.  It started in August with the IOC’s announcement of Skimo’s possible place in the Olympic Games.  It continued on through World Team qualifiers and the National Championships along with all the other races and events across the country.  It carried on through USA’s best ever 6th Place finish at the World Championships.  And now the season has brought us into and through the Spring. Stay tuned for announcements and news that will impact your training, scheduling and uphill lifestyles!

Have a great Spring!


World Championships Wrap Up


Piancavallo, Italy.  The 2017 World Championships of Ski Mountaineering have come to a close in Tambre/Piancavallo, Italy.  Team USA wrapped up the championships with strong performances in the Sprint and Vertical races before closing out the event during the Team Relay event.  Team USA finished 6th in the overall team standings – its highest ever finish at the World Championships.  


The highlight of the final days of competition and perhaps the entire Championships came when Quinn Simmons collected a bronze medal in the Cadet Sprint Race.  Simmons, 15, Durango, CO, turned in two strong performances – first in the qualifying round where he achieved the second fastest time and then in the semifinals where he won his heat – in route to qualifying for the finals.  Amongst a highly competitive field, Simmons started strong and was the first competitor to the top if the diamond before being overcome on the bootpack.  The fifteen year old Coloradan hung on tough during the last stages of the race to cross the line third.  Simmons’ performance made him the first American male of any age to medal at the World Championships.  

Also competing in the Sprint races on Monday were, in the Cadet Girls category, Morgan Fortin, and in the Cadet Boys category, Henry Haines and Henry Boyd and in Junior Boys category, Ian Clarke, all of whom narrowly missed out on qualifying beyond the preliminary round.  

In the Senior Women category, three of four Americans made it to the quarterfinal round, Jessie Young, Najeeby Quinn, and Michela Adrian.  Anne Gonzales just missed out on qualifying despite a strong performance.  

For the American Men Eric Carter was able to move beyond the qualifying round and into the quarterfinals in an incredibly talented field.  Carter hung tough in his quarterfinal heat, but ultimately missed out on moving into the semis.  Max Taam, Rory Kelly, Scott Archer and Cam Smith all skied well and showed incredible resiliency and toughness throughout the day as freezing rain blanketed athletes and the course.


Photos: Mark Smiley


Tuesday brought better weather and the Vertical Race.  First across the line for Team USA was Morgan Fortin in the Cadet Girls field.  She was followed by Quinn Simmons in the Cadet Boys.  Simmons finished 9th in a strong performance following the previous days effort.  Henry Boyd and Henry Haines were next across the line in the Cadet Boys race in solid 17th and 18th place finishes.  The cadets covered 485 vertical meters during the race.  

The Senior Women and Men along with the Junior Boys started further down the mountain and had to cover 560 vertical meters to cross the finish.  Kristi Knecht of Flagstaff, AZ, started strong and finished even stronger passing five competitors along the final 300 feet to finish 15th with a time of 32:20.  Knecht led the US Women across the line with Janelle Smiley, Jessie Young and Nikki Larochelle following her in 20th, 25th and 28th respectively.  In the Senior Men’s race no one was able to keep up with Killian Jornet of Spain but American John Gaston, Aspen, CO, was not far off.  Gaston continued a great performance at these World’s by finishing in 11th place with a time of 25:49.  Not far behind him were Mike Foote, Eric Carter, Tom Goth and Cam Smith coming in 26th, 27th, 36th and 43rd.  Ian Clarke competed in the Junior Boys field and again raced strong in his first ever Vertical Race.


Photos: Mark Smiley


Wednesday brought the final day of competition.  Amidst bright sunshine the Team Relay played out with US Teams racing strong against the world’s best.  A mixed Cadet Girls, Cadet Boys and Junior Boys team saw Morgan Fortin, Ian Clarke and Quinn Simmons ski strong in icy morning conditions.  The Senior Women’s Team of Janelle Smiley, Najeeby Quinn and Jessie Young stayed with the lead pack for much of the race ultimately finishing in 8th place.  The Senior Men’s Team of Max Taam, Mike Foote, Rory Kelly and John Gaston played leapfrog with a few nations throughout the race before finishing in 8th.  The relay consisted of a 80 meter ascent, a 70 meter descent, a 85 meter ascent through the Sprint course and ending in a 85 meter descent.    


Photos: Mark Smiley


In the overall competition Italy was able to hold on to the top spot despite a strong performance by the Swiss on the final day.  Switzerland came in 2nd followed by France, Spain, Austria and then the USA.  Russia, Germany, and Andorra rounded out the top nine.

After eight days of elite competition, difficult conditions and trying weather Team USA is ready to relax, recoup and celebrate a great World Championships.  Team USA’s performance has caught the attention of all the nations competing here in Italy.  The 25 athletes that competed along with the staff and support crew of friends, families and spouses proudly represented USA Ski Mountaineering and is excited about a bright and successful future for USA Skimo.  

Click her for more great photos by Mark Smiley.

Go USA and Ski Uphill!


2/27/17 World Championships Update

We are half way through the world championships and everything is going great.  Team USA is in 5th place in the overall Nation Rankings!!!  This is the highest team USA has been in a world championships and we'll be fighting to the end. 

The individual and teams races we in a backcountry setting outside the town of Tambre.  The snow conditions have been a bit grim but the local organizing committee and the ISMF have done a great job at altering the courses to put on the races.  It's resulted in some technical races that have kept racers on point.

Photo Credit: Mark Smiley

More great photos by Mark Smiley

Below are the US athlete results for the Individual and Team races from the first three days of competition.

Individual Senior Men

John Gaston 15th

Eric Carter 26th

Tom Goth 36th

Mike Foote 46th

 Espior Men

Cam Smith 13th

 Individual Senior Women

Jesse Young 13th

Janelle Smiley 21st

Lindsay Plant 32nd

Nikki LaRochelle 36th

Individual Junior Men

Ian Clarke 23rd

Individual Cadet Men

Quinn Simmons 11th

Henry Hanes 16th

Henry Boyd 17th

Individual Cadet Women

Morgan Fortin 7th

Teams Senior Men

John Gaston / Max Taam 11th

Teague Holmes / Jon Brown 16th

Eric Carter / Tom Goth DNF (broken ski)

Scott Simmons / Paul Hamilton  DNF

Teams Senior Women

Janelle Smiley / Jessie Young 4th!

Lindsay Plant / Nikki LaRochelle 8th

Najeeby Quinn / Michela Adrian 9th

Kristi Knecht / Anne Gonzales 12th

Today we transferred to the Piancavallo ski resort / town, about an hour and a half to the east.  The setting here is more lively with people alpine skiing.  Athletes are previewing the sprint and vertical courses and preparing for the next few days of racing.

Up next is the Sprint race on Tuesday, followed by the Vertical on Wednesday, and the Relay on Thursday.  

Ciao for now!


Ski Mountaineering World Championship in Alpago-Piancavallo

The US National Team is headed to the Ski Mountaineering World Championship in Alpago-Piancavallo Italy next week.

The team of 25 athletes and 3 staff have begun making their way to Italy to represent the US at the highest level of the sport.

Event Website:

Get to know the US National Team:

Over the next week we'll continue to post pictures and information about the athletes and races.

Stay tuned and cheer on the USSMA Athletes!

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