Sarah Schleper’s epic ski-racing journey continues |

Sarah Schleper’s epic ski-racing journey continues

Sharon Schmidt
Special to the Daily
Sarah Schleper grew up in Vail, getting on skis for the first time when she was less than 2 years old.
AP | FR42408 AP

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail honorees

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail began preparation over a year ago for its Alumni Reunion Weekend, which will take place Feb. 6-8 during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. This community-wide celebration features the first-ever Hall of Fame and Wall of Excellence induction on Feb. 7 at the Four Seasons Resort Vail. For Hall of Fame and Wall of Excellence along with Alumni Reunion Weekend event details and tickets, call 970-790-5161.

Hall of Fame, Athlete Category

Sarah Schleper

Hall of Fame, Leader Category

Byron and Vi Brown

Wall of Excellence, Athlete Category

Rudd Pyles-Knutzen

Johnny Buxman

Jeff Gorsuch

Chad Fleischer

Ali Levy

Sylvan Ellefson

Wall of Excellence, Leader Category

Tom Pitcher

Pete Seibert Jr.

Larry Benway

Mike Porter

VAIL — Born in Glenwood Springs (the nearest birthing unit to Vail at the time), raised in Vail, on her first pair of skis at less than 2 years old and not able to get enough of it lapping at a young age with lift attendants looking on at Vail Mountain, local ski racing hero Sarah Schleper continues to make her dad, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and her home town proud of her.

Schleper joined Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (then Ski Club Vail) in the early 1990s as a J4 racer. She attended what is now known as SSCV Winter Tutorial in the winters and Battle Mountain High School in the shoulder seasons. Her raw talent, grit and passion enabled her to blossom at a very young age.

As a J3 racer (now U16), she qualified for and won the Whistler Cup and took second in Topolino, the most elite of international competitions for J3 racers. It is no wonder the U.S. Ski Team invited Schleper to projects and camps as a first year J2 (around 16 years old).

By her second year as a J2, she was invited to join the U.S. Ski Team, but would find her way home to train with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail every chance she had. Before Schleper knew it, she had earned World Cup starts, racing against the best in the world.

Among the many highlights of Schleper’s career were her three World Cup podiums, including one World Cup slalom win in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in 2005, making Schleper the first Vail athlete to win an alpine World Cup. She was also a seven-time U.S. national champion in several disciplines including giant slalom, slalom and super combined wins.

Schleper is a four-time Olympian, representing the U.S. with a 10th place career best finish in Torino.

Running into one of her early Ski Club Vail coaches recently, he shared with Schleper that she would train like a warrior — no drama. Schleper went on to recount that this coach was trying to give her advice on the hill one day to which she replied, “But I’m so small.” He responded, “You can’t let that stop you. If you want to win, you have to win with what you’ve got.” To this day, his words inspire her.

Schleper spent a recent powder day at Vail Mountain with another former Ski Club Vail coach. Together they captured one of those epic moments that make skiing racing such a passion for Schleper — in nature in a field of fresh powder with friends at her side.

Schleper’s passion can be felt in all aspects of her life as you listen to her recount the moment she fell in love and now lives happily ever after with her husband Federico, the excitement of the birth of her first and second child, her love for surfing and music, her extreme gratefulness for the support of her dad and her passion for passing along all she has learned to the next generation of young girls through her coaching.

One cannot help but find Schleper’s journey an epic one with many moments of heroism along the way, particularly as she returns to the sport after her second child, dual citizenship in hand to represent Mexico in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

Life is a little busier these days, juggling family, the development of a Mexican ski team, uniforms, funding, budgets, coaching and training, but in keeping with one of her approaches to life, you have to find what motivates you and keeps you happy. Schleper certainly has and will continue to do this!

Sharon Schmidt is director of admissions and communications for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.

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