Vail Daily column: Get in the Gates this new year | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Get in the Gates this new year

One of the truly unique opportunities we offer at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail is the Alpine Bank Get in the Gates recreational race program headed by coach Erik Steinberg.

You want to hear some old ski racing stories? Erik has a few.

Steinberg moved to Vail in 1964 when his father, Tom, was recruited to become the town's first doctor. Growing up at the foot of Vail Mountain, he became a member of Ski Club Vail and ultimately a Rocky Mountain junior downhill champion. He went on to compete at the University of Colorado, where he was part of four NCAA national championship teams.

After two seasons racing on the Europa Cup, Steinberg was hired by the U.S. Ski Team in 1979 as a men's downhill coach and helped the storied Bill Johnson win Olympic gold in 1984. (If you don't know about the legendary Wild Bill Johnson, a quick Google search should suffice. Let's just say he made Bode Miller look disciplined.)

Steinberg oversaw the making of U.S. ski racing history as the head coach of the women's team that produced a World Cup downhill win by Pam Fletcher in Vail. In total, he has coached 41 national champions, and for a period of time (1988-1993), he even served as executive director of Ski Club Vail.

Beyond having Erik as their personal coach, members of the Get in Gates recreational race program are afforded the incredible opportunity to literally "get in the gates" on a professionally set course, on a world-class race hill, up to four days per week, all season long for less than $1,000 per year. Only a portion of the cost is absorbed by the members. The program is made possible by its title sponsor, Alpine Bank, and other SSCV supporters.

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Get in the Gates is perfect for racers 8 and older, any community member or part-time resident of the Vail Valley who wants affordable, consistent and safe alpine race training — slalom and giant slalom, more specifically. The program caters to masters racers, town series participants and guest trainees (athletes who may be enrolled in race programs elsewhere in the country and are passing through Vail). Athletes should be at least expert skiers with entry-level racing experience, but higher-level racers will also benefit from the training package.

It is one of the truly special opportunities offered by Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and our way — and Alpine Bank's way — of giving back to the community. There are currently 45 members of Get in the Gates and we hope to grow the program moderately in the new year.

The program runs Wednesdays (giant slalom), Fridays (slalom), Saturdays (giant slalom) and Sundays (slalom) from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Golden Peak in Vail. A season-long membership costs $995. We also offer a 10-day punch pass for $500 and a five-day punch pass for $250. Current SSCV members receive a 10 percent discount.

Let us know if we can help you "get in the gates" this winter. Visit our website at skiclubvail.org or call 970-790-5121 for more information.

Geoff Mintz is the communications manager at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, a former editor at SkiRacing.com and Vail Daily correspondent.