SCV’s Rich Hadley is moving on
To some, he’s a ski coach, to others, he’s a ski racer. For a different crowd, he’s a pretty face and a magnet for stories about the opposite sex. To everyone, he’s a risk taker, a chance maker, and an all-around all-American young man.
That’s a lot to live up to. But Hadley’s seen pressure. As an extraordinary athlete, he has a long way to climb on his family’s totem pole. His grandfather, Bump Hadley, roomed with Joe DiMaggio when he played for the Yankees.
But for Hadley, baseball was for the birds. Traditional sports didn’t have the excitement he needed, and neither did the East Coast. Nine years ago, Hadley jumped ship at a university in Vermont, moved to Vail and fell in love with ski racing. Under the tutelage of then-Ski Club Vail (SCV) director Chip Woods, Hadley received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Denver, toured the European circuit for the U.S. Ski Team and spent time competing and winning on the Nor-Am circuit.
Move over, Bump.
But his stint in Vail is over. Hadley, for now, can be known as part of the old era at Ski Club Vail. Hadley’s leaving SCV and heading to the Aspen Ski Club to coach the ability level men. He’s not shy in admitting that “Chip Wood’s departure was an influencing factor.” Woods will be coaching at Aspen as well.
New SCV director Aldo Radamus knows what he’s going to miss.
“Rich has been a part of Ski Club Vail for nearly 10 years,” Radamus said in a press release. “First as a successful athlete, mentor to our younger skiers and finally as a coach in our program. We all appreciate and will miss the enthusiasm he brought to ski racing and Ski Club Vail.”
As a prominent ski racer living in the valley, Hadley forerun World Cup races and wore helmet cameras for the Outdoor Life Network and ESPN. But still, he considered coaching a stretch from skiing.
“For a long time, I thought it wasn’t my kind of thing,” Hadley said. “It’s hard to coach kids when there’s nothing more that you want than to race with them.”
But what he brought to SCV was his understanding of the physical demands of ski racing. His first year in college he broke his neck, ending his short-lived NCAA career. Neither of his brothers who played professional lacrosse or baseball own that claim. Hadley returned to Vail to work as the strength and conditioning coach last season, introducing words like “plyometrics” and “core workout” to a program accustomed to more traditional ski phrases like “gate” and “time.” He taught kids that ski racing is a full-time activity.
While it costs as much as $40,000 a year to race competitively and internationally, Hadley didn’t have a trust-fund backup as a racer. He went door to door to fund himself, getting small sponsorships from Kenny’s Double Diamond Ski Shop, Bart and Yeti’s, The Brass Parrot and others.
“There’s a lot of kids in the valley that need money for the sport,” Hadley said. “I was out there with my resume going out to every little shop. That’s the way to make it happen. It’s a crucial part of ski racing.”
Hadley is one of six coaches who left SCV this summer, including Woods. Radamus said he’s got it covered.
“Most of all the staff positions are filled already,” he said. “There’s a couple things that are still left open, but nothing too gaping.”
Woods, who was asked by the SCV Board of Trustees to resign last spring, likes the opportunity to keep working with Hadley.
“He’s a very personable guy. Everybody likes him,” Woods said. “He’s great with the younger kids. Even when he was an athlete with us, he was able to get the younger kids – who didn’t understand or have the ambition to be a top-level skier – to be a part of his work ethic.”
John Cole, who taught in the women’s program at SCV before departing this year, watched Hadley for much of his career.
“He was an incredible motivating force,” Cole said. “He’s very good getting the kids to work and working with the kids. He was a tremendous motivating factor to everyone.”
But now, Hadley will be moving to Aspen, a ski jump from Vail but rivals nonetheless.
“I’d like to thank Ski Club Vail for their support,” he said. I’ve been really lucky to have the support of this valley and of this organization since I was a young athlete.”
It’s obvious he will be missed.
Coaching jobs still open
The most important spot at SCV still unfilled, Radamus said, is the spot of freestyle coach. Jim Bryant, the former head, is going part-time. Cole was a women’s ability coach, along with Chuck Harris. Filling in will be Ben Webster, who coached at Steamboat Springs and has been working as an advertising rep for the last couple years. Youth coordinator Deb Flanders and ability level coach Kevin Stell also left, along with Hadley.