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.”


2017 World Championships Selection Criteria and Guide

The 2017 World Championships Selection Criteria and Guide is attached to this post as a pdf file.  If you hope to compete in the 2017 World Championships, please read through the selection criteria!

This is the official selection criteria for selection of the United States Ski Mountaineering world championships team.  The world championships will take place in February of 2017, and is comprised of five events; individual, teams, sprint, vert, and relay.  Except for the teams event, we will field four athletes in each race.  For the teams event, we will field four teams of two, for a total of eight athletes.

These selection criteria are set up to select the fastest athletes for competition at the world championships.  It is simplified from previous selection criteria, and provides a back-up for selection for the individual event, in the event that a top athlete is sick, has an equipment malfunction, or can not compete at the first event.  Athletes MUST have raced and qualified in the racing season in which the world championships will be held.  No racer without qualifying results in the 2016/2017 races will take part in the world championships.  Previous years results are not grounds for selection.

These criteria are written using two race weekends, Irwin Lodge (Crested Butte, CO) and Wyoming Roundup (Jackson Hole, WY).  However, we are in the process of selecting contingency races in the event that either or both are cancelled due to insufficient snow or other reasons.  These races will be chosen this winter, and an updated selection guide with the backup events will be posted in the fall of 2016.

Final selection will be made after the Jackson Roundup.  At this time, you will have 1 week to commit to racing at the world championship event, or forfeit your spot.  In the event of forfeiture, the berth will move to the next position in the event for which the forfeiture occurred.  For example, if the fourth place finisher in the Vert event cannot travel to the world championships, the fifth place finisher will be offered the slot.

Individual Selection Criteria:  Four men and women will compete in the individual event.  The top 3 male and female finishers at the Irwin Lodge ski mountaineering race will be awarded an individual slot. 

The fourth and final slot for the individual event will be awarded to the top male and female finisher at the Jackson Hole Roundup event that did not qualify at Irwin Lodge.  This accommodates a variety of potential issues that could interfere with the top racers qualifying, and provides a back-up event to qualify the final athlete.

Teams Selection Criteria:  Eight men and women will compete in the teams event.  The top 8 men and women finishers at the Jackson Hole Roundup will qualify for the teams event.  Coaches and the USSMA will create the teams based on previous results and racer input, though final team composition is the right of the USSMA.

Vert Selection Criteria:  The top 4 men and women at the Crested Butte/Irwin Vert (held the same weekend as theIrwin Lodge race) will qualify for the vert.

Sprint Selection Criteria:  The top 4 men and women at the Jackson Hole Roundup Sprint (held the same weekend as the Jackson Hole Roundup event) will qualify for the sprint.

Relay Selection Criteria: The top 2 men and women in the sprint event and the vert event will qualify for the relay event.  In the event that either the top two vert or sprint decide against racing the relay, the slot will move to the next athlete who qualified.  For example, if the top vert qualifier does not race, the slot will move to the third vert qualifier.  If the top sprint qualifier does not race, the slot will move to the third sprint qualifier.

Wyoming Rando Roundup Cancelled

The 2016 Wyoming Rando Roundup has been cancelled!  Though the race will not happen this year, we look forward to the event next year and a return to Jackson Hole for Ski Mountaineering.  Stay tuned for information regarding next years event, which promises to be bigger and better than ever!  A big thank you to Cary Smith and JH Skimo for all the hard work they put into preparing for this years event, and even though it did not all come together to allow the race to happen, we are thankful for their dedication and hard work in the last year.  We cant wait to be back in Jackson to race again next season!



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