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A club taking flight

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado
SPO Aldo Radamus TS 12-15-07
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VAIL Its the classic dream of a kid growing up in a ski town: to stand atop the Olympic podium adorned with a gold medal.Strangely enough, some adults share that dream.Aldo Radamus, the executive director of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, is one of those adults. This year, a lot of what Radamus and others at SSCV have been cooking up for years is coming to fruition. The Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy a public school for competitive winter athletes is up and running, a proposal is in place for new training facilities at Golden Peak, and SSCV launched an ambitious capital campaign that would allow all kids, regardless of financial means, to pursue Olympic dreams.All of these things have been in the works for two to three years and some stuff for about 20 years, Radamus said. There are some incredible opportunities there is a great synergy in all the things that are happening.The most visible change thus far, and one that has gained SSCV national attention, has been the academy. In years past, top SSCV athletes juggled their academic schedules at public, private or online schools. But this year, the academy allowed 35 high school students and 17 middle school students to manage academics and athletics with a bit more ease.For the first year of the program, its going as well or better than we could have expected, Radamus said. Undoubtedly, we expected there would be bumps in road, and well have them, but its been positive, and were moving in the right direction.Early in the ski season, when the World Cup races were in town, SSCV announced the kickoff of a long-term $30 million capital campaign. About $5 million of the campaign will go toward proposed new training area and facilities in the Golden Peak area, while Radamus said the rest of the money raised will be for a scholarship endowment. This is something well take in three stages, Radamus said. The first stage … will have about $4.5 to $5 million for on-mountain (changes) and $5 million for endowment, with the ultimate goal of raising an additional $10 million for endowment and then an additional $15 million for endowment.

The proposal to expand racing and training facilities at Golden Peak, which would include about 45 acres of new terrain suitable for multiple disciplines along with training facilities, is part of the 2007 Vail Ski Area Improvements project.In terms of facilities, it will give Vail an internationally (certified) downhill, super-G and moguls course, none of which wed have before, Radamus said. In addition to expanding terrain, it helps to accommodate the number of kids and disciplines.A decade ago, nearly all SSCV members were in alpine. This year, about half of SSCVs current 450 members are in alpine, with about 25 percent in freestyle, 15 in snowboarding and 10 in Nordic.All the money for the on-mountain (improvements) has been committed, Radamus said. We still have a lot of work ahead of us to raise that amount of money, but for the first stage, we are well on the way.While many club members are clearly excited about the potential training area expansion, they are already quite pleased with whats happened so far. Delainey Ackerman, a sophomore at the academy who split time between the Colorado Academy and the Vail Tutorial Academy last year, appreciates having the stability of one school year-round.(The academy) works really well with skiing, she said. The teachers are all trying to help us with skiing. Its a lot better because there is only one school, and you arent going back and forth.And it helps with training, too.Its a little more consistent, and theres more time, too. Its a really good opportunity for skiing and still being able to keep up with school.Geoff Grimmer, the academic director of the academy, points out that the academy offers challenging Advanced Placement classes and expects students to excel.Our kids have to maintain 70 percent or higher to compete, he said. In a science classroom that has a lot of lab work, thats extremely rigorous.

Between the public school and the proposed endowment, Radamus hopes to take the financial equation out of competing. We award 75 scholarships for about $75,000 for program fees, Radamus said. At this point, we havent had the ability to go beyond 60 percent (of total costs for an individual). So if we have people with needs more than 60 percent of program fees, thats what the endowment is planned for.The prospect of any kid being able to compete at a high level is something that excites skiing legend Bob Beattie.The most important thing is that kids can ski and dont need a lot of money, said Beattie, a National Ski Hall of Fame inductee and former U.S. Ski Team head alpine coach. Its a great program and something this country needs badly. The problem with academies is that they cost a lot of money. But thats the key to this program its tied in with the public school.Ski academies are popular in Europe, although public ones in the United States were nonexistent until the Vail program took hold this year.There have been a number of inquiries from around the state and country, and people are watching to see how things are going to go, Radamus said. It seems like there ought to be a program like this in every major ski town.As logical as it seems, there are often big barriers in the way, like the millions of dollars hes setting out to raise.This is not easy, but Aldo is a tough guy and very determined, Beattie said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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