Vail Daily column: From ‘groms’ to Olympians
January 13, 2014
Excitement could be felt throughout Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and our snowboard and freeski programs last week with the public opening of Vail Mountain’s 22-foot superpipe at Golden Peak. When the Burton U.S. Open came to Vail Mountain this past year on its 31st anniversary, a 22-foot halfpipe was required for the event. Through the generosity of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s donors (including Burton Snowboards) and the purchase of the 22-foot pipe-cutter, the superpipe would be available all season for the use of the public and the training of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s athletes. It’s a partnership between Vail Resort, Burton Snowboards and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail that benefits everyone!
After an on-again, off-again effort to run a snowboard program at then Ski Club Vail, Ben Boyd (aka Boydie) joined Ski & Snowboard Club Vail as snowboard program director in 2002. Soon after, Ski Club Vail became Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, recognizing the permanence of snowboarding in the world of snow sports and the Olympic pipeline. Since that time the sport has continued to evolve in all aspects: training, coaching, venues and culture. The school offers snowboard programs in slopestyle, halfpipe and boardercross.
Evolution of competition
In parallel with the evolution of the sport itself, came the evolution of the athleticism and focus of the riders. For these athletes to keep up with the added complexity of ever-evolving tricks at ever-increasing heights (as much as 42 feet off the ground in a 22-foot halfpipe at the apex of a trick), the regimen of strength training and conditioning, yoga sessions and trampoline training at the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Acrobatic Center and on-snow air bag training progressions have become a regular part of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s training progressions. Personalized training and competition plans, goal-setting sessions, on-snow year-round training in both hemispheres and increased opportunities and support for academics for our school age athletes, has made snowboarding a year-round on- and off-snow commitment for the competitive snowsports athlete.
The age of entry into competitive snowboarding has evolved significantly over the past 12 years to accommodate these increased demands. No longer can a rider casually take up the competitive end of the sport in their teens, spend time “hanging out” in the park or the pipe and become highly competitive. As a result, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s snowboard training programs support athletes as young as age 5 competing in grass-roots events to an ever-growing “pro” level snowboard program (teens to 25-plus), competing in Grand Prixs, U.S. Opens, Junior Worlds, X Games, World Cups and the Olympics.
For a competitive rider to get to the top of the sport, they must continually push their tricks to the next level — more variations, more grabs, more height and more finesse through constant trick progressions, both on and off snow. As a club, we could not be more fortunate than to have the expertise and passion found in Ben Boyd and his world-class coaching staff. Whether they are developing young “groms” to USASA podiums or working with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail 2010 Olympian Faye Gulini and Sochi 2014 Olympic hopefuls Kaitlyn Farrington and Ayumu Hirano, Boydie strives to coax the best out of everyone he works with, coaches and athletes alike.
Boydie has led Australian and USA FIS World Junior teams, is a board member of USASA, a USCEC trainer and committee member, and holds the AASI full certification and trainers accreditation. The Ski & Snowboard Club Vail snowboard program has produced numerous national team, X Games and Olympic athletes, a number of whom have won national and professional titles. It is no wonder that in 2008, as a coach at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, Boyd was recognized by the United States Ski and Snowboard Association as the U.S. domestic coach of the year for snowboard.
Boyd is a true professional and widely respected in the snowboard community for his knowledge, enthusiasm and, most of all, his caring nature and compassion for the youngest of riders. Each and every day, he and his coaches develop that next level of character, courage and commitment in the athletes.