Ski & Snowboard Club Vail 3-peats as Alpine Club of Year | VailDaily.com

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail 3-peats as Alpine Club of Year

VAIL ­— When the Palmer Glacier on Oregon's Mount Hood saw a devastating melt last summer, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail had to improvise. For years, the club has been training there during August, renting out lanes, setting up gates and race training out of the Timberline Lodge facility.

To be successful in ski racing, says Ski & Snowboard Club Vail coach Rob Worrell, you have to keep skiing, as often as possible. And with no Mount Hood glacier to train on, keeping kids skiing was a problem Worrell had to get creative with to solve.

"It's amazing, if you try hard what you can do with your money," he said.

He consulted a parent of one of his athletes, a European native, who gave Worrell some pointers about navigating the continent on a budget. In the end, the club was able to put together a European ski racing camp for a comparable price to the annual Mount Hood trip.

"We took all public transport, we cooked on our own, and made it very affordable," he said. "It felt like we were in college, bumming around Europe with our ski bags. We went to some indoor arenas in Lithuania, that was dirt cheap, and we got to train on a glacier in Austria. It was a great trip."

It was the type of scrambling you would expect out of the back-to-back Alpine Club of the Year, so named by the United States Ski and Snowboard Association in 2014 and 2015.

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And earlier this month, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail learned they had been named Alpine Club of the Year for the third year in a row. Worrell was also named coach of the year.

"It's a big honor," he said. "I always really respected the coaches that have won that. It's always high caliber coaches that have put in their time, are committed and have had success."

NOTHING LIKE NOVEMBER IN VAIL

Following Worrell's successful scramble to keep his kids on snow, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail found themselves scrambling as a club to put together a top notch event in November.

"It was a new series that started last year for U19's, called the National Performance Series, and it became a part of the criteria to qualify for the national team," said Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Alpine Program Director Karen Ghent. "Ours was going to be the first in a series, but it came in late, everyone's calendars had been set already. They asked us if we thought we could do it, and we said if the temps cooperate we can probably pull it off. We were really proud to be the first ones to host it."

Most years, November in Vail is the best technical training a ski racer is likely to find here on planet Earth. It's an environment that has been made possible by Ski & Snowboard Club Vail's state-of-the-art snowmaking system at Golden Peak.

"The snowmaking on Golden Peak is largely due to private donations, and it really kick started the whole early season training that we're now well known for," Ghent said. "That's a good example of the support we have in our community for our club … People are very generous in trying to support the kids in our community; it's really impressive."

GRIT AND DETERMINATION

Ghent says the most noticeable result of being named Club of the Year has been the inquiries from people outside of Eagle County and the state of Colorado.

"They're looking to bring their kids here, move their family here, so their child can be a part of Ski Club Vail," Ghent said. "That has been an interesting outcome because we're also a community organization, so we're trying to balance this community aspect with our high level profile."

Worrell said he's proud of how the club has connected with local snowsports athletes.

"Our perception of kids in the Vail Valley is they all come from affluent families, but I was quite surprised when I came to Vail," he said. "There's middle class families in Eagle County who love ski racing, and they do anything they can so their kids can do it, and the kids are working themselves to afford it. The Ski Club has come up with a lot of creative ways to help with scholarships and subsidized funding for kids, it's not exotic camps, they get out there and they work hard. They're gritty kids, and that's why they're good."

SKI & SNOWBOARD CLUB VAIL PRESIDENT’S DINNER

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail recognized the following people at their annual President’s Dinner earlier this month.

• Zella Gorsuch Memorial Award: Ceil Folz for the greatest contribution to advancement of skiing in the Vail area

• Walter Kirsch Award: Elizabeth Harding — season overall Character, Courage and Commitment C3 Award Winner for the season

• C3 Monthly Winners

October: Elizabeth Harding

November: Katie Hancock

December: Bella Mauro

January: Tad Elliott

February: Nick Iskenderian

March: Colbey Derwin

April :Cameron Wolfe

• The George Rau Coach of the Year: John Dowling

• Lower/Middle School Student of the Year: Elsa Perkins

• Upper School Student of the Year: Patrick Ottley

• Terresa Herbst Teacher of the Year: Eric Rippeth

• Gaynor Miller Award: Nolan Herzog, for the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete who exhibits the highest standards of sportsmanship, teamwork and dedication, with their overall performance an example to be followed

• Craig Kelly Memorial Award: Dylan Okurowski, for the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail snowboard athlete who demonstrates the finest combination of athletics, citizenship and academic excellence

• Adrian Kearney Award: Dominick Epifanio, for a graduating alpine age class athlete who exhibits a true passion for skiing and a love for life in the mountains

• Downhill Racer of the Year: Kyle Negomir, for the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete with the most outstanding performances in downhill and Super G

• Thomas Pitcher Award: Lauren Viola, for the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete who demonstrates the highest level of commitment to the sport of ski racing and academic excellence

• Zeke Pierce Memorial Award: Kevin Nichols, for the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete who exhibits a passion so deep that it shows a way of life, love for the environment and respect for all who share this love

• The Vi & Byron Brown Volunteer of the Year Award: Christine Braun

• Les Streeter Awards

• Alpine: Florian Szwebel

• Freeski: Broby Leeds

• Freestyle: Hunter Bailey

• Nordic: Maddie Donovan

• Snowboard: Jack Coyne

• Individual Program Male and Female Athletes of the Year

• Alpine: Kyle Negomir and Nellie Talbot

• Big Mountain: Finn Andersson and Austin Obourn

• Freeski: High school, Aaron Milligan; middle school, Ava Surridge and Lachlan Crick

• Freestyle: Emerson Smith and Tess Johnson

• Nordic: Noah Hoffman and Maddie Donovan

• Snowboard: Gabriel Irlandini and Montana Braden