Steamboat Springs In today's rocky economic climate, words like "layoffs" and "cutbacks" litter the vocabulary of most of the country's top business executives.
As the president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team, Bill Marolt would like to think he is immune -- but he is not.
Two weeks ago, Marolt announced the team would need to cut an estimated $2 million, a 10 to 12 percent cut in the team's overall budget.
"We're not unlike any business in the world today," Marolt said. "We have achieved our success through strong long-term planning, and now is the time to plan even more conservatively for the future. We have to focus on providing a consistent program for our athletes, which we will do."
Unfortunately, the team will also have to meet its bottom line in order to survive.
This year, that will mean cutting administration expenses to the tune of about $1 million. The team will also have to cut about $1 million from its athletic programs.
The team's elite skiers, those on the World Cup tour, would continue to be supported, Marolt said. Instead, cuts will have the greatest impact on development programs and support services such as sports medicine.
Marolt didn't know the specifics of the cuts, only that they are coming.
"We are not going to change our goals, but with the stagnate economy there was no other way," he said.
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Todd Wilson said such financial roller-coaster rides are nothing new for the U.S. Ski Team.
Wilson has experienced both sides of the issue as a U.S. Ski Team athlete and as a coach at the Winter Sports Club.
"It's still too early to tell how it will effect us here in Steamboat," Wilson said.
Instead of hitting the panic button, Wilson said the club would wait and see exactly how the cuts affect the national team and then adjust to any changes.
Big cuts at the development level could result in more athletes coming back to the Winter Sports Club next year, he said. If that happens, the club might have to add staff to deal with the increased numbers.
While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, the cycle creates a flow of athletes that is hard to predict, Wilson said.
"We have to look at the club as a prep school," he said. "Our job is to prepare skiers and hope that they graduate. We want them to be successful and we want them to be named to the U.S. Ski Team."
The club tries to prepare for each year the same way, Wilson said. He thinks the Winter Sports Club's programs are the best in the nation, so the coaches don't have to change a lot when elite level athletes bounce back and forth.
The bad thing about budget cuts is that they normally impact the development level of the ski team, which interrupts the entire process of creating Olympic athletes, he said.
Wilson said such a cycle hampers the U.S. Ski Team's ability to be successful at the international level.
Marolt said the administration is doing everything possible to keep all of the key programs intact. However, he did admit the development skiers would be feeling the pinch over the next year. He said the team would do everything possible to keep young athletes in the competitive loop through programs such as the national development system, but admitted that some of these athletes' efforts might have to be "self-funded" for a period of time.
Cuts are always hard to make, but they are necessary for the team to continue to move forward in the future and stay strong, Marolt said.
For Wilson, the cuts are just a fact of life in the uncertain world of skiing.
"It would be nice if we could even things out a little bit, but I don't know if that is ever going to happen," he said.