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The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team last week issued the following press release on the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund (JSARF):
Ahead of this Father’s Day, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, in collaboration with the Shiffrin family, is honored to announce that the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund (JSARF) will live on as a newly established need-based, direct-to-athlete funding source for U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes.
The JSARF was created to honor Jeff Shiffrin’s life and legacy in collaboration with the Shiffrin family and a group of generous donors (six families). The Fund, which successfully raised more than $3,000,000, contributed to U.S. Ski & Snowboard in sustaining its training and competition schedule as many funding sources were impacted due to COVID-19. This translated into one of the most successful seasons in history, with 103 podiums, including 27 victories, across all sports which is a direct result of consistent funding for all athletic programs.
Additionally, as a result of the success of the JSARF and support from the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, the organization was able to make a one-time COVID-19 hardship payment of $1,300 to every named 2020-21 national team athlete. This means athletes, like mogul skier Tess Johnson, are able to focus on their 2022 Olympic journey in being able to cover expenses outside of team funding. Johnson was able to use the one-time payment from the initial JSARF towards her summer lodging expenses in Park City, Utah, as she trains at the USANA Center of Excellence and the Spence Eccles Olympic Freestyle Pool at Official Training Site Utah Olympic Park (UOP).
“Every athlete named to the 2020-21 U.S. Ski Team received a COVID-19 payment through the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund because you are on our team,” said Johnson of the many generous supporters of U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I can pay rent in Park City to train at the COE and UOP because you are on our team. And I can realize my dreams of winning the Olympics and the World Cup Overall Globe because you are on our team. Seven years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that this concept of team would play a star role in my success as an individual athlete, and I’m just so thankful to have the many people who make up U.S. Ski & Snowboard fulfilling that role.”
A goal of $250,000 with every dollar being matched by a generous anonymous donor up to $125,000 has been set for the re-launch of the campaign, with $250,000 in grants slated to be distributed to athletes based on a combination of both need and merit. Athletes can use the funds toward any cost related to their sports career, including but not limited to living expenses, medical expenses, rehabilitation from injury, education, and professional certifications. The application process will be announced early in 2022, and applications will be assessed by a grant review committee composed of donors, Board of Trustees members, and alumni athletes. Grants for this round of funding will be distributed in the spring of 2022. A new round of fundraising will also start in the spring of 2022, immediately after this year’s grants are awarded, for distribution in the spring of 2023.
Davis U.S. Cross Country Ski Team athlete Hannah Halvorsen, a key member of the bronze medal-winning relay team from the 2017 Junior World Championship team who suffered from severe injuries when she was hit by a car in 2019, is another athlete who has benefited from grants, sponsorship, and donor funding. As a development team athlete, Halvorsen covers her own travel and lodging costs and depends on grants much like those that will come from the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund to enable her to focus on the next level of competition and establish herself at the World Cup level. Grants like this are difference-makers for up-and-coming athletes like Halvorsen who are on the cusp of breaking through.
Moving forward, the JSARF will help fill financial gaps like Johnson’s and Halvorsen’s, so athletes are able to shift focus from personal financial concerns to competition as they aim to achieve their goals and find success on the world stage. Unlike many of the nations U.S. Ski & Snowboard competes against, American Olympic athletes do not receive any direct government funding.
“The original Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund campaign was instrumental in helping us to support and sustain athlete and team funding and programs over the last year due to the global pandemic,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw.
“This newly-launched, need-based, direct-to-athlete funding campaign is a significant value-add for our athletes as they set out to achieve success at the highest level of our sports,” Shaw added. “We are grateful to Eileen, Taylor, and Mikaela for their dedication to establishing this ongoing Fund, their commitment to athletes across all sports, and their desire to honor Jeff’s legacy.”
Two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin, who has worked tirelessly—along with her mother Eileen and brother Taylor—to establish the Fund, expressed her gratitude to donors, supporters, and teammates for their involvement to #keeptheflamealive over the past year.
“On behalf of my family, I want to thank those who have already donated to the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund, and those of you who will consider getting involved in this ongoing campaign,” Shiffrin said. “I also want to thank my teammates and the fans who shared their stories of resilience—your stories have offered endless inspiration and have kept me going.”
“My dad was passionate about elite sport and there’s nothing he loved more than watching athletes overcome challenges and compete at the top of their game,” she added. “Our hope is that, in a few years’ time, we are able to create an endowment in my dad’s name, so his legacy will live on and he will continue to contribute to the ongoing pursuit of excellence for all athletes across all sports.” For more information about the Jeff Shiffrin Athlete Resiliency Fund and to donate, visit keeptheflamealive.org.