Ski and Snowboard Club Vail has big dreams
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – The youngsters of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail may be the fastest things on snow, but the club itself is moving at a good clip these days.
After years in the planning and talking stages, the club – which provides snowsports training and competition for youth – is taking action on several projects, all of which could be finished by the time the World Alpine Ski Championships come to the valley in 2015.
Club director Aldo Radamus recently sat down to talk about those projects, and provide a little perspective on how far the club has come in its history.
Radamus first came to the club as a coach, and stayed from 1980 through 1984. During that time, there were about 100 kids involved in the club. These days, the club has 116 employees and more than 500 kids.
To handle that growth, the club a few years ago opened the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy at the old Minturn Middle School site in Maloit Park. That academy – which is a public school – helps kids serious about their snowsports integrate their athletic and academic pursuits. And it’s the academy that’s at the top of the club’s current to-do list.
Thanks to a recent agreement between the town of Minturn and the developers of the proposed Battle Mountain resort that freed up more than $11 million in escrow funds, the club, the town and Battle Mountain are talking seriously about a “human performance center” at Maloit Park. That center would create new training facilities for the club, and space for a recreation center for the town and resort. The end result would be a lot more space for everyone.
“We’re really excited about the prospects for that,” Minturn Town Manager Jim White said. “There really is strength in numbers.”
Radamus echoed that sentiment. The club, developers and town have been talking about the performance center idea for about 18 months, he said. But, with the legal agreement between the town and resort, those discussions are starting to get serious.
While the club has its own needs, Radamus said there’s a good deal of overlap with the parties’ needs.
Beyond planning for a new structure, the parties are also talking about the best ways to use the full-sized gym at the old middle school.
“It just feels like there’s a real synergy for this,” Radamus said.
Besides the performance center, the club is also working on plans for some dormitory-style housing near the school. The club is now negotiating with the Eagle County School District to buy land for that project.
Merging the academy with the athletics has brought families with kids to the valley.
Howard Cooper of Vail moved here from Steamboat Springs two years ago so his three daughters could join the club. At the moment, two daughters are at the academy.
“I think it’s the best alpine training program in the country,” Cooper said. “It’s an opportunity to put kids in school in a way that really works with the athletics.”
Those opportunities will probably expand in time for Cooper’s youngest daughter to reap the benefits.
The club is also working now to expand the Golden Peak training center. That center has been wildly successful since 2003, when the club put $3 million worth of snowmaking and other improvements into Golden Peak. The training site now draws not only youth competitors, but some of the world’s best skiers for early-season training.
It’s safe to say that academy student Parker McDonald wouldn’t have been able to take Lindsey Vonn to his homecoming dance last fall without the improvements at Golden Peak, since America’s best ski racer ever was training in Vail when she visited the school.
But the existing course is only the start. The club continues to work with the U.S. Forest Service on plans to expand the course into one that’s long enough for to host an FIS downhill race.
That, Radamus said, could bring World Cup ski racing back to Vail.
Then there’s Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s 1970s-vintage clubhouse. The club has long outgrown that building, but it could take some time to build a replacement. The club is now working with town of Vail officials on a request to re-zone the property. Once that’s done, the club will complete a concrete plan to build that includes residences on the site.
Selling those residences would pay for a new clubhouse.
Beside the planning, all of the club’s plans will take some serious fund-raising. But the result could be something special.
“‘World class’ is a term that’s used liberally, but what we’re working to create here really is,” Radamus said. “Once this is done, we’ll have the best training facility anywhere, and we’ll have improved access to the program so more kids can participate.”
Cooper said he’s eager to see what’s next.
“It will allow my daughter to have better training for dry land, better training on the mountain and a better academic environment,” he said. “I’m excited to see it.”
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.