Vail Daily column: Reflections on the journey of competitive snowsports | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Reflections on the journey of competitive snowsports

Aldo Radamus
Perspectives

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail's athletes are in the thick of the competition season. From the 6-year-old competing in the complimentary Steadman Clinic Vail Cup to senior athletes striving to qualify for national or collegiate team status, athletes are working hard to be a little bit better every day than they were the day before. With the many podium performances and competition results to be had this time of year, it is easy for athletes and parents to lose sight of the most important outcomes from an athlete's journey at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail — the life lessons to be learned through the vehicle of competitive snow sports which shape them into successful adults.

More to competition than results

Griffin Mueller is an Ski & Snowboard Club Vail post-graduate alpine athlete heading to Bates College, where she will continue pursuing her passion for academics and athletics as a member of its Division I alpine ski team. During her sophomore year of high school, when her family moved from Telluride to Vail, Griffin was bold enough to take a year away from ski racing to pursue her other interests on a Rotary Youth Exchange in Hungary. Returning to Vail as a junior in high school, she joined the club full-time and enrolled at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, where she was quick to find herself surrounded by new friends and regarded as a leader in the community.

Griffin was recognized as an Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Character, Courage and Commitment Award winner in her senior year for her natural ability to lead, her work ethic and constantly pushing herself to her limits both athletically and academically. Griffin shared her creative side with the community through her senior installation art project.

Griffin continues to embody her Character, Courage and Commitment traits in her post-graduate year, showing support for her teammates while maintaining a solid focus on her goals and logging impressive results along the way.

Jake Dippy is an Ski & Snowboard Club Vail full-time alpine athlete in his sophomore year at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy. As a first-year U16 athlete he worked extremely hard to qualify for U16 Rocky Central Junior Championships, a stretch goal. Not only did he achieve this goal, but he finished in the top half of the field. As a result, Jake's next goal was to earn the funds needed to attend a summer camp, a necessary step, as he had never been able to do so. With his usual determination Jake earned these funds, only to break both legs three days into summer camp. Jake spent the rest of the camp in the hospital undergoing surgery and placement of rods and pins in his legs.

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In enormous pain, Jake spent his summer prep period in a wheel chair. He slowly worked his way back to the gym in the fall and onto snow in January 2015. Training and racing were a struggle with rods and pins still in his legs causing numbness in his feet and constant pain. His lack of leg strength made it difficult to resist forces, push on his skis and withstand jarring from rough surfaces. At the end of last season, Jake had the rods and pins removed from his legs, another full surgery, which took him out of commission for six more weeks, missing another summer camp. He slowly worked his way back into the gym this past summer.

Entering what for most ski racers his age is a FIS level competition path this fall, Jake's coach recommended he continue to race at the USSA level since his skills and fitness were still in a building phase. Jake's grit, resilience and trust in the path laid out for him by his coach is paying off. He took fifth in his first run earlier this month in the SYNC USSA level series. A substantial mistake in his second run prevented him from reaching the podium, but he proved to himself and his coach that his skiing was there. He has made huge strides toward his season goal of transitioning into FIS racing, stretching himself in a FIS race in Vail last month and scheduled to compete in a FIS race later this season.

Jake has earned the support of organizations who believe in him. He is the kid that everybody roots for — Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and neighboring club parents, athletes and coaches alike.

There is no greater joy than to witness the character, courage and commitment developing in our athletes, some of the many qualities gained through competitive snowsports.

Aldo Radamus is the executive director of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. For more information, go to http://www.skiclubvail.org, email sschmidt@skiclubvail.org or call 970-790-5161.