Ski & Snowboard alpine club director steps down
VAIL — Karen Ghent said she was feeling a little nostalgic on Monday.
The longtime Ski & Snowboard Club Vail employee was helping organize her last race as the club’s alpine program director.
“It’s been really a fun challenge to build a culture on our staff and work with the little guys,” she said. “I think I do have a pretty good impact on them, so I will miss that for sure. So it is a little nostalgic, it’s a little bittersweet.”
Ghent has spent more than two decades with the club and has watched the alpine program grow to become the best in the nation the last three years, as recognized by the United States Ski & Snowboard Association.
While she doesn’t want to call it a retirement, Ghent is looking forward to stepping down from the role, which can be quite consuming.
“I’m looking forward to having a little bit more time to do more personal things,” she said Monday. “But I will stay involved in the sport.”
Taking over for Ghent will be former U.S. Ski Team head coach John Hale. Stepping into a role that has received unprecedented accolades, (no club has ever been named Alpine Club of the Year three years in a row), Hale’s main challenge will be, simply, to maintain Ghent’s success.
“I know there is a 100 percent commitment to achieving excellence,” Hale said of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. “And I look forward to supporting and accelerating the vision of being the premier snowsports club in the world.”
Ghent said it’s a big undertaking, because it’s a big club.
“We have a wide range of ability levels and skill levels and ages so it’s a pretty big job,” she said. “The challenges of leading the alpine program here are keeping it organized, paying attention to details — it can be kind of overwhelming because there’s a lot of different things going on at the same time and it’s important to pay attention to the details and never be afraid to address things if they come up.”
The alpine program has roughly 300 athletes and growth is limited at the moment — intentionally — due to its sheer size.
“The numbers have gotten to a point where we really need to not get bigger,” Ghent said. Because we need to train everybody.”
In looking at the current state of the alpine program, “there’s a lot of expectation, but there’s also a lot of opportunity,” Ghent said.
Ghent’s three children also grew up in the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail program. She said in raising Erika, Christa and Abby, she received a lot of help from the club. Her husband, Brad, is also highly involved in the sport of ski racing and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail as a member of the board of trustees.
“I was blessed to be able to have this position here, because I was involved in my children’s lives while they were involved with the club,” she said. “All of these coaches, they’re not coaching for the money — they’re out here because they love the kids too and there’s a village concept, that we’re all raising these kids together.”
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