Big Changes at the USSMA!

Big changes are afoot at the USSMA!  The 2014/2015 is shaping up to be a big one for the world of Ski Mountaineering in the US, both for the exciting race season ahead and for the changes at the USSMA.  Most significantly, Pete Swenson, who has led the organization for as long as we can all remember, has stepped down as president of the USSMA.  Pete has been a leader and fixture in the world of Ski Mountaineering, and through his efforts has played a pivotal role in developing and nurturing the sport in the US as well as often being one of the top American athletes.  Though he will no longer be the president of the USSMA, Pete has changed hats and will now serve as the head of the newly created board of directors. We can’t thank Pete enough for all that he has done and we are excited that he will be remaining part of the organization going forward.

In his place, we are excited to announce that Nicholas Francis will take the helm as president.  Nicholas has been a part of the Wasatch Powder Keg race committee for three years, and since starting racing 5 years ago has grown to love the sport and is dedicated to the advancement of skimo in the US.  Nicholas is joined by another Wasatch Skimo member, Chad Brackelsberg, who has been active with USSMA for the past 3 years and will join Pete on the board.

In the coming years we are aggressively pursuing the growth of skimo in the US through adding new events, integrating more US events into the ISMF calendar, and plans to bring two World Cup events to North America in the 2015/16 race season (1 in Canada and 1 in the US).  We are also working hard to implement a junior training program to introduce younger athletes to the sport; strengthening our relationship with the American Alpine Club, our Canadian counterparts, and the ISMF; and working to expand the use of ski resorts for training and racing facilities.  We have a lot of work to do, but we truly believe that the growth we have seen in the last five years will pale in comparison to the next five years. 

As part of the changes at the USSMA, several roles remain that need to be filled.  We are seeking excited individuals that would like to be a part of the USSMA to fill the roles of assistant director, marketing, sponsorship/fundraising, results/points coordinator, and social media/website.  The next few years will see big changes in the USSMA and the state of skimo racing in the US, and we need excited and dedicated people who can be a part of this growth.  If you are interested, please email Nick at [email protected] for more information. 

And, stayed tuned for another big blog post coming up detailing the new racer license system that will be implemented this season.  We will now have a domestic license for racers, as well as the option to purchase an ISMF license for those of us who race internationally or who want to collect ISMF points at the several North American ISMF races.

The race calendar is getting filled up quickly so check out all of the races currently on the schedule at  In addition to the USSMA Sanctioned Races, there will also be a US National Race Series this year.  Watch our blog for details about the series and look for our ad in the December issue of Backcountry Magazine.


Ski Mountaineering Fall Training Camp

If you are looking to get a jump start on your ski mountaineering training this fall, consider the Ski Mountaineering Training Camp being put on by Stano and Eric Carter in September.  Watch for more details to come.


Quick overview

  • Training for three days around Vancouver, Squamish, and Whistler, BC  with fellow skimo racers and members of the Canadian National Ski Mountaineering Team.
  • Dates are September 12-14, 2014.
  • The agenda includes trail running, strength training at Challenge By Choice in Squamish, and roller skiing with video technique analysis.
  • Cost will be approximately $40 per person for all three days!
  • SMCC stands for Ski Mountaineering Competition Canada and is a section of the Alpine Club of Canada


Dynafit and Escape Route are bringing us two excellent evening presentations that we think will be interesting to skimo racers, ski tourers and trail runners. For those already attending the camp, there is no additional cost. For those who just wish to attend the presentations, the cost is $5 at the door. The presentations will take place at 7pm at the Escape Route in Squamish. Escape Route is also preparing special pricing for those in attendance to pre-order the latest and greatest skimo gear that is difficult to get our hands on here in North America.

If a skimo training camp like this interests you, please, email us to sign-up or to ask for more information via the form below.

Tentative Schedule

  • Friday
    • AM: Callaghan Park Rollerski Session OR Alice Lakes Run & Brohm Lake Swim
    • PM: Sea-to-Sky Gondola Vertical K*
    • Evening: Slideshow Presentation at Escape Route
  • Saturday
    • AM: Sky Pilot Long Run/Scramble & Murrin Lake Swim
    • PM: Britannia Rollerski OR Britannia Run
    • Evening: BBQ in Squamish & Slideshow Presentation at Escape Route
  • Sunday
    • AM: Strength at Challenge by Choice
    • PM: Garibaldi Park long run

Logistics and Gear

The camp will officially begin Friday morning but we understand work schedules may prevent some from joining us then. Feel free to come Friday night or catch up with us Saturday morning. Athletes are responsible for finding their own housing during the camp but we will do everything we can to help you find a place to crash. If you have friends to stay with in town, great, if not, let us know and we will try to figure something out! Below is a basic gear list for the camp:


  • Running Shoes
  • Training clothing
  • Sandals, post workout clothing, and beach gear
  • Ski/running poles
  • Food for fuel during workouts
  • Preferred snacks for meals
  • Helmet
  • Rollerskis (optional)
  • Mountain bike (optional)
  • Rock climbing gear (optional)


2014 ISMF Plenary Meeting

Pete Swenson represented the USSMA at the the ISMF Plenary meeting in Stockholm 13-15 June. The Plenary was attended by 21 federations, the new ISMF media partner TKS, an FIS observer, and the La Grand Course organizing committee. 

Ski Mountaineering Olympic Status

The IOC granted "Provisional Recognition" of the ISMF and ski mountaineering in April of 2014. This means the IOC will "audit" the sport and the ISMF for the upcoming two seasons and in 2016 will accept or decline ski mountaineering for the 2022 Olympics. While all parties involved are understandably excited by the prospect of the Olympics, my "off the record" conversations with people with experience/knowledge of the IOC decision-making process were sobering. At best the chances of inclusion are 50/50. Some individuals involved in the process feel 2022 is unlikely 2026 is more realistic.

  • The Olympic event format is undecided and under much discussion. Everything from a 45 minute 3-4 lap race to a traditional 1:45-2:00 hr race is under consideration. IOC concerns include: security, safety of racers, proximity of the venue, TV coverage, spectator access and environmental impact. The ISMF will satisfying the concerns of IOC but also put on an event that shows off the best aspects of ski mountaineering, is "true to the mountains", spectacular, and captures the interest of the public (and youth segment in particular).
  • The IOC wants to see 40 federations (up from the current 31).
  • The IOC audit of the sport is as concerned with the ISMF organization and it's structure/abilities as they are the conduct of the World Cup events.

Doping control is a significant expense; 24% (28,000 Euro) of the ISMF budget goes to doping controls. During the 13/14 season there were 55 tests in/out of competition, no positive tests. 


La Grand Course is now a part of the ISMF World Cup as a "Long Distance Team World Cup"  Beginning this coming season three LDT events will be added to the World Cup calendar. All LDT events are team events. Currently the Grand Course series is five events, but will expand in the future. I discussed the potential addition of a US GC event with the GC promoters and they were quite interested and will be visiting the US to review potential venues.

World Cup calendar events in 2014/15 will be five events, plus three LDT. 

The ISMF approved a "North American Continental Cup" that will likely include four events: Irwin Lodge, Crested Butte, Powder Keg and a Canadian race. 

There were no additions to the Equipment Pool of 19 members and no significant changes to ISMF race rules. Azerbaijan and the Netherlands were added to the ISMF member nations. 

TKS Media has been signed as the media/marketing partner of the ISMF. TKS has produced event coverage for soccer and auto racing markets, their focus will initially be on selling TV coverage to European markets followed by North America and Asia.

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