Tiger Burning Bright | Global Rescue Senior Director Profiled by Ski Racing Magazine
USST veteran Tiger Shaw turns his talents toward a new role at Global Rescue
Tiger Shaw, a two-time Olympian and 10-year veteran of the US Ski Team and World Cup circuit enjoyed an athletic career at the highest international level. Today, several decades removed from his days on the hill, Shaw is the senior director of response services for Global Rescue — a crisis response company dedicated to redefining the evacuation services provided to corporations, academic institutions, government agencies and injured athletes, travelers and outdoorsmen all around the world.
From Global Rescue’s headquarters in downtown Boston, Shaw oversees accounts from large international corporations with thousands of employees overseas to elite teams of ski racers traveling to camps in Mount Hood, Chile, New Zealand, Europe and beyond. He says that his passion for the sport of ski racing and commitment to safety for young athletes propelled him to his current position at Global Rescue, where he believes he has an opportunity to impact medical care and safety in the ski community.
Ski Racing Magazine caught up with Shaw to get his thoughts on skiing, life as a parent and his new role at Global Rescue.
Your ski career produced a long list of achievements. What was your proudest moment as an athlete?
Making two Olympic teams was definitely a highlight, but my World Cup results are the most memorable. That’s the closest that I ever got to being best in the world — third in a run, sixth in a race, etc. Making the Olympics is an honor, but that is making a cutoff to make a particular team, not necessarily striving to be the best in the world. It’s less of an achievement to make the Olympics as an American than it is to place in the top five in the world.
Throughout your career, you must have traveled to some pretty out-of-the-way places. Global Rescue does what nobody else does, and gets to these places. What’s the most remote ski area you’ve ever been to?
Las Lenas, Argentina, no question. After a 12-hour flight to Buenos Aires, you have to drive 26 miles west to a small domestic airport. Then it’s a 45-minute 737 flight to interior Argentina. It felt like we landed on a dirt strip. Once there, we took buses to the resort where all the buildings are A-frames to withstand the 10 to 20 feet of snow that would fall between now and when we left. Not much else out there… I actually self-evacuated once after hurting my knee. Caught a flight to Buenos Aires, lugged my bags, spent three days locally trying to get a flight, all while limping around — fun!
With six knee operations under your belt, you’re no stranger to injuries. Have you ever witnessed a serious injury to a friend or teammate?
Yes, unfortunately. I was in Squaw when Joel Persone launched off a downhill jump while training, and landed on a coach who was salting the track. Luckily both survived, with one taking many years to recover, but he did. I have a few other stories like that — glaciers, accidents, car wrecks. I’m old enough to have seen a lot.
These days, you surround yourself with former athletes, paramedics, and U.S. special operations veterans at the Global Rescue headquarters. Tell us about your role.
I joined the company in the summer of 2011. My involvement here began with the rescue of my own kid — she wrecked her knee in Panorama, B.C., and Global Rescue brought her home for surgery, which, thankfully, went well and she is still racing today. We knew about Global Rescue because Burke Mountain Academy was way ahead on this preparedness curve. They required that all internationally-traveling kids have coverage. Similarly, GMVS covers every single kid and staff at the school with Global Rescue. Many clubs also stress coverage, some more than others, and as a result not all ski racers are covered, but should be.
How is Global Rescue making an impact in the ski community?
We’re trying to make it a safer sport through better preparation, and better response to problems and emergencies when they occur. I do believe that, through our work, we have significantly affected the lives of many skiers. There was no one as capable before us. Just ask anyone who has suffered because of the past deficiencies, and those that have benefited from us.
Over the past few years we’ve also formed a number of partnerships with ski clubs and academies across North America. Through these relationships, we can protect kids, members and their families, and also help clubs with risk mitigation and destination pre-planning. These are invaluable benefits for large groups traveling to race or train. Many clubs take advantage of the preparation help we can provide, some don’t. My message to them would be, “Don’t wait for a bad accident before you finally get prepared. Get coverage, get prepared!”
Now as a parent of several elite racers, it must be a bit unnerving to watch your children compete. How has your perception of risk in the sport evolved from your career as an athlete to your time as a parent?
Dramatically. As you get older, you grow more risk-averse. Smarter is safer. Even these days, when skiers are doing many and much more dangerous things (pipes, slopestyle, extreme), it is in fact safer than it used to be, because of awareness and equipment improvement. As a coach and a ski club director, I look at ski trails for safety, fencing in the proper position and place, obstacles protected, safety bars down, etc. I feel like I’m the opposite of that mayhem guy in the Allstate Insurance commercial. My kids create chaos; I try to control and mitigate it. When my kids travel to race and train, I sleep easy knowing they have one number to call in the event of an emergency.
As a parent, why would you recommend Global Rescue to the parents and coaches of athletes nationwide?
Peace of mind, security and professionals on top of it should an incident arise. One number to call, and a solution waiting to kick in. I recommend Global Rescue to parents because I know the people here, and I want them taking care of me if I need help. Plain and simple.