January 29, 2014

Sprint helps U.S. Ski and Snowboard athletes train for victory

By Dave Mellin

As recently as four years ago, coaches of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) teams told athletes to keep their phones in their lockers when they were on the mountain training. Their phones could be a distraction from training.

That’s all changed.
Today, skiers and snowboarders carry their smartphones with them – that same smartphone is as essential to their
on-the-hill training as boots and goggles, and it’s all enabled by the Sprint 3G and 4G LTE networks that provide real-time connections between athletes and trainers.

The skiers and boarders use the Athlete Management Platform (AMP), a sports-science and coaching tool developed by USSA’s performance staff. USSA’s 300 athletes and 385 coaches, sports scientists, trainers and medical doctors use the technology to monitor the physical and psychological health of the athletes’ training.

Coaches use a tablet or smartphone to record video of the athletes as they train that can be instantly transferred to athletes' phones. Coaches can view slow-motion video, add audio comments and even place videos of tricks side-by-side so athletes and coaches can compare recent runs down the halfpipe or slopestyle course.

Athletes used to have to wait until the end of the day at team meetings to watch video and identify areas for improvement. With and the AMP program using the Sprint network, a video of every run is on athletes' phones before they load the lift back to the top of the slope.

Skiers and boarders also use other devices that help track their training by capturing vital data. One example is sensors or infrared cameras that attach to the edge of skis to measure real-time velocity and forces during training such as the degree of lateral slippage around a gate, or a skier’s speed and angular motion as they come down the mountain.

AMP also helps with off-mountain training. AMP allows athletes to record everything about their day from their workout, to fitness-test results, injury tracking, training program analytics, how much they sleep, what they eat, or if they have the sniffles.

The information is recorded in the app on their Sprint phones and shared instantly with coaches and USSA’s high performance team of experts, including strength-and-conditioning coaches, nutritionists, physical-rehab therapists and team doctors. USSA’s staff uses the data to look for patterns and relationships to identify trends or other details that otherwise may be hidden. It keeps everyone on the same page with information that is continually updated and evaluated.

After each contest or training, athletes and coaches tweak training programs, trick series and even diet with instant feedback from the team. It’s a process that continues to evolve but one that enables the nation’s best skiers and boarders to perform at their best and compete for gold against the best the world has to offer.

Sprint has been a USSA sponsor for 22 years – a partnership that began before mobile phones were as prevalent as they are today. During that time, we’ve seen our sponsorship grow from banners on the mountain during big events and logos on a skier’s uniform or helmet into a relationship that has transformed training and today is driving improved performance.

Dave Mellin is a communications manager for the brand and sponsorship teams at Sprint. Based in Denver, he can answer questions related to Sprint’s advertising, as well as sports and entertainment sponsorship activity. You can reach Dave at dave.mellin@sprint.com.

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