Kirk’s Corner: Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, over 700 athletes strong
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail is the oldest not-for-profit organization in the Vail Valley. Over the course of the club’s existence, our snowsports offerings have expanded to include alpine, Nordic, moguls, freeski and snowboard. Additionally, we now have a rapidly expanding cycling program. Our membership of part-time and full-time athletes has grown to a current total of 718. Interestingly, our part-time and full-time program enrollments are equal in number.
The vision statement for SSCV reads: Our objective is to provide the level of quality commensurate to the needs and goals of all our athletes, so they can become the best they can be. We aspire that more of our athletes will become the best in the world than any other club. SSCV is a Vail Valley centric program.
Although these are lofty goals, we have multiple athletes across disciplines achieving results aligned with these objectives. More significant is the depth and breadth of our programs; beginning as young as age 6 and providing programming support through our graduates’ collegiate and national team careers. From entry level programs of one day per week through to frequent presence of our national team athletes, SSCV aspires to support developing the initial discovery period of involvement through when true ignition of intrinsic motivation leads to the deep commitment to a sport with our ultimate goal of these athletes becoming the best they can be.
The growth of athlete membership at SSCV is only possible through the strength of our exceptional partners: Vail Resorts, Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, Vail Mountain School, Red Sandstone Elementary School, The Steadman Clinic, Steadman Philippon Research Institute, Vail Valley Foundation and Alpine Bank — among the most notable. Our membership growth is directly associated with our school partnerships which have transformed a trend of when Vail Valley athletes reaching an elite level would look at eastern ski academies to allow for pursuing their athletics in parallel with receiving the necessary academic flexibility and support. Now we attract families to the Vail Valley with the recognition of the confluence of great academic offerings combined with pre-eminent on-snow training.
SSCV has in excess of $300,000 per year available for financial aid based on demonstrated need to cover up to 75% of program fees, helping to broaden accessibility to youth across our community.
We have had a policy where our SSCV alumni athletes involved at the national team or top collegiate level have an open invitation to participate in training when they are home in Vail. We have this type of engagement throughout all of our sports. This year, given the unforeseen consequences of COVID, we have had a significant influx of both national team and collegiate athletes training here on a more significant level. National teams have been restricted in their ability to travel so we have had both individuals and teams (such as the U.S. Mogul team which has a heavy SSCV presence) training here for extended periods. With some top collegiate teams essentially closed out of their normal training and competitions we have a large number who have trained with us either for lengthy stretches or the entire winter. This involvement truly “closes the loop” as many of these returning alumni were initially enrolled in our part-time programs. Our expectation is these athletes will be provided great training and in exchange they will help work with our youth program athletes and serve as mentors while raising the level of our training.
While SSCV has a significant number of national team and collegiate athletes with exceptional results, the most important aspect of our program is providing the opportunity for Vail Valley children to develop a love of snowsports which hopefully is the platform for lifelong involvement and fostering character, courage and commitment for lifelong success. We have an outstanding organization and wonderful resources but ultimately our growth is inextricably tied to the support of our partners and community.
Kirk Dwyer is the executive director and alpine program director of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.