SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Some surprises are better than others.
Sam Coffey, a Snowmass Villager and member of the University of New Hampshire's ski team, was aiming to reach the top five, or even the podium, in the giant slalom event during the NCAA National Championships in early March. However, Coffey had a rough start on his first run on the course in Middlebury, Vt.
"I wasn't that happy with it," he said. "It's super flat there, so if you mess up on the start, it's not good."
The 2008 Aspen High School grad placed 16th in the event. However, he went on to ski well in the slalom and, to his own surprise, placed third in that event.
"It was great," he said. "We were second as a team, which is really what you're there for."
New Hampshire finished eighth overall in the competition. Coffey cheered on some of his peers from Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club as they skied to a national title for the University of Colorado.
The senior is now in his third year at New Hampshire, and he's hoping to secure one more year of eligibility. If this was his last season racing in NCAA though, it was a good one. The young racer who excelled at super G and downhill in AVSC has successfully transitioned to collegiate competition, which includes only giant-slalom and slalom events in alpine skiing. Coffey placed in the top 10 in every race but one this season and made the podium a few times. He was also named to the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association All-East First Team.
"I was missing a win, but I was really close," Coffey said.
It's still his goal to make the U.S. Ski Team. In the short term, he plans to return home this summer and work at Blazing Adventures again, as well as travel to New Zealand for some training.
Coffey is majoring in international business and economics. He'd like to travel after college, whether it's through skiing or some other career.
"I love to travel," he said. "If I do get a real job, I'd like to do something with traveling."