IOC Recognition of Ski Mountaineering!

Some great news out of Rio ahead of the start of the olympic games: Ski Mountaineering has been officially recognized the the IOC!  This is a crucial step towards introduction of Ski Mountaineering as an olympic sport, which we hope to see very soon.  The full press release from the ISMF is below, or here


It is a dream come true. Yes, we are “in”: ISMF, International Ski Mountaineering Federation, is now part of the Olympic Movement as the latest Federation to join the team. The road is still long, but there is good news for all Skimo lovers and it comes from the Tropic of Capricorn: today in Rio de Janeiro the IOC, International Olympic Committee, has decided to grant the full recognition to ISMF, during the Session that is leading through the opening of the XXXI Olympic Games of Rio, Brazil.

Lluis Lopez, ISMF vice president sport, was joyful to announce and spread the news: «We made it, now it is time to work even harder».

After the provisional recognition, granted two years ago, in April 2014, the path is now moving a crucial step forward, opening a new and important period for the ISMF. Getting the status of “IOC Recognised Federation” has been the mission to accomplish since 1988, when the roots of the ISMF message were set with the creation of CISAC, Comité International pour le Ski Alpinisme de Compétition. After that, the ISMF foundation came 20 years later, in 2008. Since then, all the efforts have been shared among the member Federations in order to achieve a common goal.

«We are very proud of this result which is also a great responsibility - says Armando Mariotta, ISMF president – and I would like to thank the whole ISMF team for the massive work that everyone carried out and the IOC Sport Department for its precious support».

The IOC has been assessing ISMF method and actions in order to check whether the Federation deserved a full recognition. «I believe – adds Mariotta – that there are different reasons contributing to this result». First and fundamental, Ski Mountaineering is a clean and sustainable sport and has always operated to remain this way. «Crucial for the recognition – explains Mariotta – has also been the contract signed with INFRONT in order to set up a media right and broadcasting plan, as well as the agreement with LGC, Le Grande Course, for the new World ranking».

All these elements, together with the attention to youngsters, the constant battle against doping, the increased numbers of athletes attending international competitions, and the sharing of the IOC Good Governance principles, have been the key elements to get this great achievement.


2017 World Championships Selection update and gear update

The 2016/2017 Ski Mountaineering season is fast approaching!  Though the final calendar is yet completed, we have formalized the two events that will serve as the qualifying events for the 2017 Ski Mountaineering World Championship, to be held in Transcavallo, Italy. 

We amended the qualifying protocols this year (full explanation can be found on the USSMA blog) to simplify the selection criteria.  Briefly, worlds selection will be based on four races held over two event weekends.  For the individual event, the top three men and women in the individual qualifier gain a spot for the individual team.  The fourth slot for men and women will fall to the highest placed individual in the second event (the team qualifier) that has not already qualified.  For the team’s event, the top 8 male and female finishers in the team’s qualifier will gain a spot on the team.  The vert and sprint spots will go to the top 4 male and female finishers in the vert and sprint qualifying event.  The relay team will be composed of the top two men and women from each of the vert and sprint qualifying events.  Please note that all qualifications must be made from results in this calendar year (previous years finishes will not be taken into consideration in team selection).

The first qualifying event weekend will be held at Brundage Mountain (McCall, Idaho) on December 16th and 17th.  The Vert qualifier will be held Friday evening, and the individual qualifier will be held Saturday.  This is a new venue for this season, but Brundage is very excited to host us and we are already hard at work preparing!

The second qualifying event weekend will be held at Sunlight Mountain (Heathen Challenge) on January 14th and 15th.  Team selections will be made from the individual event at Sunlight, and sprint selections will be made from the sprint event the same weekend. 

Athletes who qualify for the World Championship team will be notified immediately after the Sunlight weekend, and will have one week to either confirm or deny their spot on the world championship team.  Please note that in order to qualify for the worlds team, you must race in the qualifying events.  Results from previous years will not be used as selection criteria for the World championships team!

In related news, the ISMF gear rules have changed for the 2016/2017 season (these rules were put in place last season, but will only be enforced starting this season).  These are not guidelines, but formal rules that will be enforced.  Any athletes participating in ISMF sanctioned events (including World Cups, World championships, and LDT races, such as Pierra Menta) must comply with the new rules. There are three notable changes:


  1. Two antenna avalanche transceivers (such as the Pieps race) are illegal for competition use.  All racers must carry a three-antenna beacon.
  2. All race suits must have an internal zippered pocket to hold the avalanche beacon.  Older suits with flap closures are now illegal for competition use.  Beacons cannot be in the outer skin pouches.
  3. Helmets must be certified to UIAA 106 and EN 1077 standards (or the corresponding EN 12492 and EN 1077).  Many of the helmets currently used are not certified to the newer standards, and are thus not allowed for competition use.  Many of these helmets have identical newer models that do meet these standards, but the older versions cannot be used.  All legal helmets will carry a sticker stating their certification level on the interior of the helmet. 


If you plan to race in Europe this season, please check your gear to make sure you meet competition standards!


More news to come as the 2016/2017 season calendar is finalized.  I hope you are all having a great summer, and look forward to a great season coming ahead!

Summit Endurance Academy Coaching

Though we are all transitioning back to running shoes and bikes for the summer, I know many of you are starting to formulate plans for the coming winter and the next ski mountaineering season.  As part of the partnership between the USSMA and Summit Endurance Academy, Joe Howdyshell is offering coaching services to USSMA license members at a reduced rate.  For many of us, a coach can be a huge benefit in providing structure, guidance, and motivation to continually improve our athletic performance.  Importantly, coaching is not only for the elite level athlete, but anyone who has the desire to become fitter and faster!

Take a look at the attached flyer from Joe- now is the time to start preparing for the coming winter season!


Though the winter racing season has come to a close, spring skiing is here and the ski mountaineering season continues!  I sincerely hope you all had a great season, and as we begrudgingly put the skis away until next fall and pull out the running shoes and bikes, here is some news from the USSMA.


Next season the USSMA will implement a formal national team, this team will consist of the athletes who qualify for the 2017 World Championships to be held in Italy.  We plan to expand this team in the following seasons and create a development and training program.  As you may know, the International Olympic Committee will be voting on inclusion of Ski Mountaineering into the Olympic games this summer, something we feel the sport is very ready for.  With this in mind, we continue to work towards a strong national program with the very real possibility of sending US athletes to compete in the Olympics in Ski Mountaineering!


To this end, the USSMA is proud to introduce Joe Howdyshell of the Summit Endurance Academy as the official physical training and coaching partner of the USSMA!  The Summit Endurance Academy (SEA) based out of Summit County, Colorado and is led by Joe.  Though Joe is relatively new to the sport of Ski Mountaineering, he has some impressive performances and I am sure we will be seeing more of Joe in the front of the pack.  Joe brings an extensive knowledge of endurance conditioning and overall coaching to the USSMA, with a very strong personal history in cross country running and Nordic skiing, and impressive results as a Nordic coach.  Joe has extensive training in the endurance world, with a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Wyoming. 


What does this mean for the USSMA and you?  Joe will be working with the USSMA to develop training programs for national team athletes and will also be providing physical training and conditioning coaching support to athletes in USSMA training camps.  This partnership also helps you, Joe and the SEA have generously agreed to reduced coaching rates for USSMA members.  With your USSMA membership, SEA will work with you to develop a training plan that fits your schedule and life to improve athletic performance in the sports you do.


We are very excited to form this partnership with SEA, and very much look forward to working with SEA in the future!  Here is a bio from Joe so you can get to know him!  Find out more at, where you can contact Joe.


“Joe Howdyshell has been an endurance athlete since before he can remember, and been coaching for nearly as long. While growing up on farms in Pennsylvania and Wyoming, Joe would run through the fields barefoot, chasing the horses and reenacting scenes from Braveheart. Finding a knack for soccer due to above average endurance and mediocre coordination, he began formal training when a coach introduced “conditioning” to a group of largely uninterested 12 year olds. Joe was hooked. In high school Joe left soccer for XC, nordic skiing, and track. Thanks to a high school XC coach with an interest in physiology, Joe became passionate about not just in the act of training itself, but also in the knowledge behind The Plan. After taking some independent study anatomy and physiology classes before graduating, Joe accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2002, where he competed in XC, indoor track, nordic skiing, and road cycling. Realizing a continued passion for nordic skiing, and indeed nordic coaching, Joe left West Point in 2004 to pursue a degree in physiology and more athletic opportunities. After completing an MS in Exercise Physiology from the University of Wyoming in 2009, Joe moved to Colorado to become a nordic coach, which is where he learned his love for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. While coaching nordic athletes to the junior World Championships, and adult athletes to the XTERRA World Championships, Joe was learning to ski big lines, skin icy tracks, and side point with crampons. Although an avid climber in his early years, it wasn’t until after his move to Summit County, Colorado that he realized a passion for summiting mountains in the winter at full speed. Joe’s best personal result to date has been a third place finish at the 2015 USSMA National Championships in the vertical event.  Joe founded the Summit Endurance Academy in 2013 as a way to help others fulfill their athletic goals. Through training plans, coaching, and consulting, Joe endeavors to bring his life’s passion to those who want the most out of their sports.”


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