Shaw Is Poised To Keep U.S. Atop Ski World
Tiger Shaw is ready to defend the mountain top, and bring others to its lofty summit.
With so many of the world’s best skiers and snowboarders coming from the United States — to say nothing of the local and regional presence — Shaw’s new job is to keep Americans on top of the world.
“Is it tougher to stay there then to get there?,” he said by phone from his Hanover home the day before moving to Park City, Utah. “Over time, yeah. It takes innovation, hard work and exceptional performances to stay the best in the world.”
The two-time Olympian and former Dartmouth College (1985 grad with an engineering degree) skier is poised to take over the reins of the organization governing the nation’s competitive skiing and snowboarding teams.
Shaw, 52, was named chief operating officer for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and will succeed Bill Marolt as president and chief executive officer following the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Shaw’s impressive resume spans achievements from snow to the front office. He’s checked all the boxes.
■ As a world level skier, he raced in the 1984 Sarajevo and 1988 Calgary Olympics. Check.
■ Nine-time national champ. Check.
■ As a parent with wife Kristen raised three ski racers — Kara, Gunnar (Dartmouth senior) and Eva. Check.
■ Ski club coach for 12 years through Ford Sayre. Check.
■ Active on the board level with U.S. Ski Team fundraising since 1986. Check. Former senior director of response services for Global Rescue, a company that specializes in international medical evacuations. Check.
Being No. 1 means being in the crosshairs and Shaw knows that.
“Serious alpine countries like Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Norway are taking shots stealing our coaches and innovations,” he said. “They would probably steal our athletes if they could.”
Shaw maintains U.S. athletes must continue to ascend the competitive mountain and praised the women’s cross country ski team.
“The women are exceptional, and the men are starting to make some leaps and bounds,” he said. “That could be the association effect. Since the women have done it, the men are realizing we can do it, too.”
With snowboard slopestyle and ski halfpipe and slopestyle debuting as Olympic sports in Sochi, Shaw recognizes the disciplines are here to stay.
“We want to make sure we capitalize on the transformation,” he said “Snowboarding caught people off guard with how fast it grew. This could be similar.”
To groom exceptional athletes, Shaw wants to develop the USSA’s feeder system through its more than 400 clubs and 30,000 members across the country. He wants to draw the average skier into the fold, giving them a sense of being part of the national teams with a membership that includes various benefits.
He also believes strongly in coaching education, and making snow sports fun and attractive to families.
“As a kid, if your friends aren’t doing your sport, you are out of there,” he said. “We need them to join in droves.”
Shaw, a Stowe, Vt., native, also brings his Northeast and Dartmouth connections and perspectives with him as he replaces Marolt, a former University of Colorado athletic director, in what could be perceived as a West-slanted organization.
“Bill brought his influences through CU and the Colorado area that are equally large and influential, “ he said. “I am very much about Vermont, Vermont skiing and Dartmouth.”
He may also try to woo some of his western colleagues to New Hampshire this spring to ski Tuckerman Ravine with him, something he tries to do annually.
Shaw especially enjoys the view from the bowl and snowfields on Mount Washington.
“There is nothing like that in the United States, maybe in Europe,” he said. “I might try to drag some Western people with me and show them what big skiing is in the East. They poo-poo the East. But Tuckerman is as big and grand as anything you see in Europe.”
But first, he’ll be off to Russia.
“That is pretty darn exciting,” he said. “It will also be interesting to see how well the Russians do or don’t handle it. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and knocking on wood. They’re doing this from scratch and still plastering the walls and connecting the wiring as we speak.”
Even with his credentials, Shaw is calling this his “dream job.”
“There is no separation between work and play for me,” he said. “All of my work really is play when you work in a sport or industry that you love. My world is ubiquitous.”