Woods asked to resign as head of Ski Club Vail
Woods served as director for the past nine years and oversaw the growth of the club from 50 to 300 youth athletes. Before coming to Vail, he also spent time as coach of two Olympic teams in 1984 and 1988 and has coached Olympic athletes from Ski Club Vail, including 2002 Olympians Lindsey Kildow and Sarah Schleper.
The 14-member board said the move has been under discussion for some time and has been discussed extensively, but the resignation has some parents questioning the organization.
The board voted Friday, with one abstention, to have president Pete Seibert present Woods with a letter asking for his resignation as director and to take over the head women’s coach position. Woods said Saturday that he would resign, but that specific women’s coaching position had been filled by Ethan Beck, an assistant to the recently resigned Chuck Harris for the past two years.
“The board and I have had our differences over the last several months,” Woods said. “It’s clear we don’t share common priorities. Their expectations of me are well above that of a ski coach or ski racing development.”
Seibert said the board has nothing but high praises for Woods as a coach, but said they wanted an administrator to run the organization due to the growth of the club.
“We will begin a search for a new director,” Seibert said. “We believe a director that is an administrator will best suit the needs of the club. I’ve been in a number of discussions with parents and they all have valid questions. I want them to call me.”
Seibert can be reached at (970) 479-2010.
Ski Club Vail, a non-profit institution, runs on an annual budget of around $1 million, Woods said. About half, or $500,000, of the club’s income is raised through tuition and fees paid by the families of the athletes. The other half is raised through ski races, an annual ski swap and various dinners, auctions and raffles. The past two years, Woods said, the club has been running at a loss.
“I’ve pleaded with the board to help raise money,” Woods said. “We had a retreat last summer where that’s what they agreed to do. Instead of helping, in my opinion, they looked at the staff and said we overspent. We’re a non-profit. We’ve never made money. I try to pay our coaches what they’re worth.”
The board, meanwhile, said money was just a part of its reasoning, and again, Woods’ coaching has never been in question.
“My only comment about this, as far as I’m concerned personally, is Chip’s been a good coach and a great director,” said trustee Phil Hoversten, who hired Woods during his term as president. Hoversten was a part of the vote and has been a member of the board for 12 years.
The unraveling began at the last annual board meeting, when the trustees asked Woods to come up with a solution to help with administrative needs. John Klasny, Ski Club Vail’s director of marketing, was hired. Woods proposed he resign as executive director and create a new position for himself, the alpine program director. In that capacity, he would just deal with athletes. An administrator, Woods said, would be hired to head the duties the board felt weren’t getting enough attention.
The board denied the proposal and asked Woods to resign as director anyway.
Parents of the athletes didn’t see it coming. P.J. Jenick, whose son Cody has been in the Club full time since 1997, said he knew Woods and the board were having their differences. On April 13, during an open meeting with the board before the annual awards banquet, a group of parents asked for a vote of confidence for Woods. The board said they had no intention of asking the executive director to leave.
“This is going to come as a complete, stunning shock that they asked for his resignation,” P.J. Jenick said. “We came to Vail not because of Vail, or Ski Club Vail, but because of Chip Woods.”
The bottom line, both Woods and the board said, is that differences between the philosophies of the two parties were becoming more and more apparent.
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