For the second year in a row, U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes took part in the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Speaker’s Bureau program – an intensive, year-long training program offered to a small group of athletes and alumni to hone their speaking skills and learn what it takes to be a successful keynote speaker. This year the opportunity was offered to all Team athletes, across sports.
Coordinated by Athlete Career & Education (ACE) Director Julie Glusker in partnership with Danny Slomoff and Slomoff Consulting Group, the initial program takes place over a two-day period of time at the Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah with Slomoff’s team of three consultants, and will continue throughout the year with participants and consultants remotely until next summer.
“We are grateful to Danny and his team for generously sharing their expertise and impactful coaching to help our athletes develop excellent speaking and presentation skills,” said Glusker. “They guide each individual athlete through a progression to learn and hone a challenging skill – speaking effectively and purposefully in public.”
One of the main goals of the program is to build their skills so athletes are able to create income through appearances. Ultimately, Slomoff Consulting Group is working with Glusker and U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw to get athletes in front of 80-100 active business leaders and understand the value in inviting these athletes to their organizations to speak. Several athletes already are being paid significant speaker fees for appearances. Both Slomoff Consulting Group and U.S. Ski & Snowboard, along with trustees and donors who support the organization, will be finding paid speaking opportunities for these Speakers Bureau participants.
Slomoff has worked with Shaw for several years, and for the last four years has worked with several athletes and staff from across sports in a pro bono fashion. At the close of this year’s Bureau, which took place on July 28-29th, Slomoff addressed the group, getting emotional about their success and progress throughout the previous two days.
Slomoff explained to the group why he got into working with Olympic athletes in the 1980s and shared that coaching speakers in business is very similar to how athletes are coached in sport, “The first thing I’m told about you is that you’re a world-class athlete,” Slomoff reflected. “Then we go through these two days and I find that you’re really interesting people. You’re doing things in your young lives that most never experience, or do not experience until much later in life. You’re all very impressive to me. I love the risks you took, the way you treat each other, believe in each other, turn to each other for advice, and more. I thank you all for that.”
Participants echoed Slomoff’s sentiments about the impact of the program. Freeskier and Olympian Maggie Voisin (Whitefish, Mont.) said, “I liked from the get-go, that it was more about the positives. The coaches were so great at reassuring us when we were flustered.” Graham Watanabe agreed with Voisin, and added that he was thankful for not only the two-day program, but also the opportunity to work with coaches throughout the year.
“You’re graciously offering up an additional year, and that excites me – these two days have been huge, but there’s so much more to come,” Watanabe noted. “My coach brain turns on watching other people set goals and achieve them in a short period of time. It’s not common, you don’t see it occur in athletics very often. As athletes, we set long-term goals, 5-10 years, so it’s pretty cool to make that short-term demand of yourself and to hit it.”
Two-time FIS Junior World Ski Championships silver medalist, River Radamus (Edwards, Colo.) said, “For the line of work we’re in, these are very valuable skills. Being able to learn from Danny and his consulting group is super valuable. I’m generally very critical of myself – how my voice sounds, how I carry myself – just having to go in with no judgment and learn improvements, is so valuable.”
From here, the program participants will work with their respective coaches throughout the next 12 months to further hone their speaking skills. This remote work with the Slomoff coaching staff will include helping athletes find and secure speaking opportunities, draft and write speeches and presentations, and practice delivery modes and styles.
Athletes involved included:
- Alex Bowen (Springville, N.Y., Aerials - Freestyle)
- Quinn Dehlinger (Cincinnati, OH, Aerials - Freestyle)
- Breezy Johnson (Victor, Idaho, Alpine)
- River Radamus (Edwards, Colo., Alpine)
- Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, Alaska, Cross Country Alumna)
- Megan Smallhouse (Reno, Nev., Aerials - Freestyle)
- Darian Stevens (Missoula, Mont., Pro Halfpipe and Slopestyle - Freeski)
- Maggie Voisin (Whitefish, Mont., Pro Slopestyle - Freeski)
- Graham Watanabe (Hailey, Idaho, Snowboard Cross Alumnus)