Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy’s fifth graduating class keeps aiming at their dreams |

Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy’s fifth graduating class keeps aiming at their dreams

VAIL — What Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy seniors apparently learned best is that indecision is their enemy.

When it started to rain just before their commencement and the umbrellas popped open, they ushered everyone inside and reset the entire affair in seven minutes and 41 seconds.

It was great, but not their greatest performances.

They recognized their athletic accomplishments, which are considerable.

“I could go on and on about our feats, but most of all we’re all friends, all 20 of us, and that’s more important than anything.”
Corey Steinke
Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy Class of 2014

"We have a U.S. Olympian graduating, another Olympian as the alumni speaker and a third Olympian giving the graduation address," said Principal Geoff Grimmer.

They've won Nor-Ams, national championships and Olympic berths.

That's all wonderful, but there's life after athletics, and they're well prepared for that, too.

"Seventy-five percent of us got into our top college," Corey Steinke said during his speech. "I could go on and on about our feats, but most of all we're all friends, all 20 of us, and that's more important than anything. Don't take what we've been given for granted. It's a gift."

Grimmer made some brief remarks about each of VSSA's students, highlighting some of their personal attributes.

Chris Leseur, for example, is a member of the Bermuda ski team.

Parker McDonald not only invited Lindsey Vonn to VSSA's prom a couple years back, but she said yes, then showed up and they had a great time.

Katie Talbot wants to be an elementary school teacher.

The list goes on. Twenty graduates, 20 sets of dreams.

"Skiing is only an individual sport from the start to the finish line. For everything else it takes a valley," Bryan Bailey said.

His wide ranging address talked about mountain bike wrecks, atomic bomb pioneers, triumphs and tragedies they've endured and enjoyed together.

"The work isn't done, Class of 2014, and neither are we," Bailey said.

Because the school's mascot is a yeti, their class gift was a 6-foot-tall yeti to stand sentry in the VSSA foyer.

Heidi Kloser started at VSSA the year it opened in 2007, 31 students total.

"I learned how to work with distance education programs, because that's what my high school years were like."

She competed through a World Cup season and still managed to get her homework done and earn A's.

Tiger Shaw, two time Olympian and the new president and CEO of the United States Ski Association, knows about dreams and making them come true.

Set the long-term goal, the "wish" goal, but don't think about it.

Break them down into smaller incremental goals.

"What I remember are those smaller goals and the daily routine of working toward them. The people who are successful are those who love that," Shaw said.

Sometimes you look up the mountain and think, "Look how far that is above me," Shaw said.

"You chip away at it and when you're at the top you think, 'That wasn't so bad. That wasn't such a big deal,'" Shaw said. "Pick your wish goals and break them down to little pieces. You're all talented enough to get there."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and