| AspenTimes.com

Austria’s Marcel Hirscher wins men’s World Cup slalom opener in Finland

LEVI, Finland — Away from the slopes, life has changed a lot for Marcel Hirscher over the summer.

On the slopes, not so much.

The seven-time overall champion posted the fastest time in both runs to win the season-opening men's World Cup slalom on Sunday.

After getting married in June and becoming a father in early October, Hirscher had recently been downplaying his chances for the new season, citing the changed priorities in his private life.

However, the Austrian was at his best on Sunday, edging Henrik Kristoffersen twice, and finishing the race 0.09 seconds ahead of the Norwegian.

"It's a big gift that it worked out," said Hirscher, who also had his offseason preparations hindered a year ago after fracturing his ankle in training.

"Last year the summer preparation was very special, and this year as well," he said. "Last year: injured, in a cast. This year: carrying our little son through the living room."

Hirscher and Kristoffersen, who were 1-2 in the discipline standings for each of the past three seasons, continued their slalom rivalry.

Their dominance was underlined once more as the rest of the field, led by Olympic champion Andre Myhrer of Sweden, was more than 1.4 seconds behind.

His third place made Myhrer the oldest skier to reach a World Cup slalom podium. At 35 years and 311 days, he beat the previous mark, set by Italy's Patrick Thaler in 2014, by four days.

Hirscher said he was relieved after leading Kristoffersen by 0.07 seconds in the first run.

"No matter what happens next, it's great and super to know that I am among the fastest," he said in-between the runs.

Clement Noel came closest, trailing by 0.38 in third, but the Frenchman skied out at a tricky passage close to the finish of the final run.

Many racers struggled at that point, and Hirscher said he was helped by teammate Michael Matt, who warned him over the team radio right after his run.

"Otherwise I could have easily lost those nine hundredths there," said Hirscher, who added 0.02 to his first-run lead over Kristoffersen.

Hirscher and Matt were two of five Austrians in the top 10, and Hirscher expected some of them to close the gap to him and Kristoffersen soon.

"There has been a generation change in the slalom team, and those guys are now definitely ready for podiums and victories," Hirscher said.

By coming runner-up, Kristoffersen kept a remarkable series going. Since the start of last season, the Norwegian has been on the podium of all 10 slalom races. Only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark had more top-three slalom finishes in a row — 12, in 1975-76 and again 1977-78.

Sunday's race was the first of the men's season after a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, was called off due to bad weather in October.

Last year's winner, Felix Neureuther of Germany, skipped the race after breaking his right thumb in training Friday. Neureuther, who was set to make his comeback from a one-year break due to a torn ACL, flew back to Munich to undergo surgery.

The men's World Cup continues with speed races in Lake Louise, Alberta, next weekend.

Colorado Buffaloes fire football coach Mike MacIntyre after six-game skid

BOULDER — Two years after he was named AP coach of the year, Mike MacIntyre's run at Colorado ended Sunday when he was fired amid a six-game skid in his sixth season.

"It was a difficult decision because Mike is a knowledgeable coach and he has really elevated this football team since 2013," athletic director Rick George said after asking quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper to serve as interim head coach for Colorado's final game next weekend.

George lauded MacIntyre's dogged focus on character, classroom and community service but said, ultimately, his program just wasn't successful enough on the scoreboard.

"What this came down to was that I wanted to see more consistency with winning seasons," George said. "Mike had an amazing 2016 season. We really hoped that that kind of achievement would be continuous, but unfortunately that didn't happen."

MacIntyre was voted AP college football coach of the year after leading the Buffaloes to a Pac-12 South title and 10 victories in 2016. That was his only winning season at Colorado, going 20-40 overall and 6-38 in the Pac-12 in the other five.

MacIntyre is due about $10 million from the five-year extension he signed after that 2016 season.

As his extension was being finalized, MacIntyre fell under scrutiny over his improper handling of domestic abuse accusations against former secondary coach Joe Tumpkin by a former girlfriend. Tumpkin called the defensive plays during the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, 2016, and resigned a month later. MacIntyre's contract extension was held up for a few months by the Board of Regents.

After an outside investigation, MacIntyre, George and Chancellor Phil DiStefano were reprimanded, with DiStefano serving a 10-day suspension and MacIntyre and George ordered to make $100,000 donations to domestic violence causes.

George said he had no regrets over signing MacIntyre to that extension. "He deserved it and his staff deserved it," George said.

The Buffs slipped to 5-7 last season but began this year with five straight victories and moved into the AP Top 25 again.

"Six weeks ago, we're 5-0 and the talk of the country," George said. "That's where Colorado should be every year and every season, we should be the talk of the country. But we're not there and that's why I made the decision."

The Buffs have lost several starters in the program's worst rash of injuries in 33 years, none more impactful than a turf toe that sidelined star sophomore receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. for a month.

Colorado tied a program futility mark by blowing a 28-point second-half lead against Oregon State last month. The following Monday, George went to MacIntyre and told him he still had his support.

"But as the next three weeks went by my gut told me I needed to … bring on new leadership," George said.

He made the move now, he said, to inject some energy into the team because it can still earn a bowl berth with a victory Saturday over California: "We've still got a lot to play for."

Following Colorado's 30-7 loss to Utah on Saturday, MacIntyre maintained his belief that he'd keep his job in Boulder, where his son, Jay, was one of several seniors celebrated in pregame festivities.

"I don't feel like it's my last game," MacIntyre said. "We've got one more, hopefully we can win that and go to a bowl game."

MacIntyre, who had taken a photo of a bison heading into a storm into his weekly news conference with buzz already building about his job being in jeopardy, said Saturday the nature of coaching is being asked when you'll leave whether you're winning or losing.

"I could've left (for) three good places, and stayed," MacIntyre said. "That's just the way it is. When you're losing, they want to get rid of you. You never can win as a head coach on that and I understand that."

Asked if he now figures he should have parlayed his success in 2016 into another job elsewhere, MacIntyre said: "No, I shouldn't have left, that's why I stayed. A lot of people told me to leave, just like a lot of people told me not to come here. I wanted to come here.

"My family loves it here. I definitely feel like this program has (progressed). You all saw it before I got here, it was abysmal. I feel like we've come a long way. This has been a tough stretch, there's no doubt about it. But no, you don't second guess anything like that, you do what you feel like is the right thing to do at the time."

MacIntyre then quoted senior receiver Kabion Ento, who spoke up after Saturday's loss, saying, "We've got one more to win one more."

A day later, that was no longer the case for MacIntyre but for Roper, his close friend of 20 years.

"We all understood when we got into this profession what this profession is like," Roper said. "But it doesn't make these days any easier when they happen."

Aspen Mountain opens for the season with 180 acres of skiable terrain

How good was Saturday's opening day on Aspen Mountain? Well, Aspen Skiing Co. president and CEO Mike Kaplan pretty much summed it up in one word.

"So excited. My quote is, 'Woohoo!' How's that?" Kaplan said shortly after the Silver Queen Gondola opened for the 2018-19 season. "We are always cautiously optimistic, just because you never know what tomorrow brings. But man, living in the moment here, it feels good so far. We are excited and I think we are off to a great start and I think it will be a great season."

Aspen Mountain had originally been scheduled to open Thanksgiving Day, as it does each year, but a surprisingly snowy preseason combined with cold temperatures ideal for snowmaking allowed for plenty of turns to be made Saturday, five days earlier than planned.

The mountain's early opening was probably enough of a good thing. But a bonus 50 acres of skiable terrain was a welcome addition.

"It was kind of the perfect storm, right? Cold temps — we were basically running snowmaking straight through from midnight on Halloween," Aspen Mountain manager J.T. Welden said. "It was really that storm last Sunday, a week ago from last Sunday, that put us over the edge. And that was an overachiever. Forecast two to four (inches) and we picked up almost a foot up top."

Welden, a native of Connecticut who is going into his 29th winter in Aspen, worked his way up from lift operator to ski patrol to most recently the director of operations in Snowmass before taking over management of Aspen Mountain in the spring. He replaced longtime Skico employee Peter King, who retired.

"It's pretty cool, right? It's Aspen. Can't get much better than this," Welden said. "The crew here is dialed. PK had it rolling and I just kind of nudge it. It's kind of a big machine. I just nudge it here a little bit and it stays on track."

When the early opening was officially announced Tuesday, 130 acres was promised with all 3,200 vertical feet available. When the ropes were dropped Saturday morning, 180 acres was available with the Nell, Bell and Ajax Express chairlifts all running, along with the gondola.

The conditions up top? Good enough for an Olympic skier.

"Super good stashes. I'm elated to be here. Aspen Skico did a great job this year," said Aspen's Alex Ferreira, who won Olympic silver in the halfpipe back in February. Fellow local X Games star Torin Yater-Wallace even joined Ferreira for some mid-morning laps on Ajax. "It's good. It's better than mid-January up there, compared to last year. It's super good. I was surprised. There were a couple of good powder turns up there, as well."

HOT TOPIC: Plenty of conversation about Skico’s ski pass art this season

Beginning Monday, Welden said they will shut down the Bell and Nell lifts and open the Gents Ridge lift for the season. After that, snowmaking won't be of much help and natural snow will need to fall for more terrain to be open. The good news it that snow is in the forecast for later in the week.

"We'll probably be able to get odds and ends here and there. Maybe some little flash openings on some of the natural for a quick couple of hours for powder skiing and riding," Welden said of continued terrain opening over the coming days.

"It's looking like a snowy period starting Thanksgiving Day through the weekend," he added. "If we can get a foot, we'd see a lot of additional terrain. We are pushing hard to get the Gents Ridge chair and associated terrain, Copper trail through Copper Bowl, open early next week. From there we are kind of maxed out on the snowmaking. It's going to be natural from there."

Only two seasons ago, opening day was pushed back from Thursday to Sunday due to poor snow conditions, and even then only the Little Nell chairlift was operational. Last winter, snowmaking helped get the mountain open on time, but the terrain was limited to a mere 100 acres, the start of an overall drab winter in Aspen.

This winter's early-season snowfall has just about everyone feeling optimistic about the coming months.

"Life is short, winters aren't getting any longer, and we need to appreciate every moment of every one," Kaplan said. "We appreciate it more than ever coming off a year like last year. Just fantastic to be up and running early, to have amazing temperatures to get great snow down and it's really nice natural snow up high. We are really set up well for a great season."

acolbert@aspentimes.com

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Shiffrin wins season-opening World Cup slalom by huge margin

LEVI, Finland — Mikaela Shiffrin started the women's World Cup slalom season in the same way she ended the previous one — with a clear victory.

The two-time overall champion built on a first-run lead to comfortably win the traditional opening race in Finnish Lapland on Saturday.

Shiffrin defeated last year's winner, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, by 0.58 seconds. Bernadette Schild of Austria, who posted the fastest second-run time, finished third, 0.79 off the lead.

Switzerland's Wendy Holdener, the runner-up to Shiffrin in the overall standings last season, was 0.85 seconds behind in fifth.

It was Shiffrin's 33rd career victory in a slalom, leaving her two wins shy of the World Cup record held by Austria's Marlies Raich — Schild's older sister.

"I felt well," said Shiffrin, who won seven of nine World Cup slalom events last season, including the final one in March by a massive 1.58 seconds. "I was really able to push."

On Saturday, strong winds in the upper part of the course forced organizers to postpone the race by 45 minutes and move the start gate lower down the mountain, reducing run times by 10 seconds.

"It wasn't a big problem," said Shiffrin, who opened the race wearing No. 1. "It was the right decision, for sure. It's windy."

Shiffrin dominated the opening run as only Olympic slalom champion Frida Hansdotter managed to finish within a half-second of her lead. While the Swedish racer and several others led Shiffrin at the first split time, nobody matched the American's speed in the steep middle section of the course.

"It's tough to be good at both," Shiffrin said. "There are some girls who are a touch faster than I was at the very top, but it's not so easy to have a good rhythm at the top and then a really good rhythm at the pitch, as well."

Hansdotter dropped to fourth after the final run, in which Shiffrin reacted quickly to avoid skiing out after a mishap.

"I had a little bit of a scary moment on the top of the pitch but kept fighting and made it to the finish. It was fun," said Shiffrin, who has won the slalom season title five times in the past six years.

"It's the first race of the season, so there are some nerves, there is some excitement. Nobody knows how fast they are. It's always a nice challenge."

Shiffrin also led this race after the first run a year ago but was edged by Vlhova, who was the only racer to beat her at a World Cup slalom last season. The only other race Shiffrin didn't win was in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, when she failed to finish.

Twice before, in 2013 and 2016, had Shiffrin won the race, where the winner is awarded a rather unusual prize — a reindeer. Shiffrin said she would name it Mr. Gru after a character from the animated comedy film "Despicable Me." She had called her other reindeers Rudolph and Sven.

Saturday's win gave Shiffrin an early lead in the World Cup standings after she placed third in the first giant slalom three weeks ago. She has 160 points — 60 more than France's Tessa Worley, who doesn't compete in slaloms, and 79 more than Holdener.

A men's slalom on the same course is scheduled for Sunday, and the women will travel to Killington, Vermont, for a slalom and a giant slalom next weekend.

Volunteers wanted for largest ski competition in Utah since Olympics

PARK CITY, Utah — It's about two months until the 2019 FIS freeski, snowboard and freestyle World Championships kick off Feb. 1 with snowboard cross on Solitude Mountain.

Organizers expect the International Ski Federation event, which is set to take place at Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort, to be the largest winter sports event in the Park City area in terms of spectator turnout since the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Putting on such a large production is going to require a lot of work, and a lot of help from volunteers. U.S. Ski and Snowboard is currently searching for more than 600 volunteers to help with the event.

By comparison, last season Deer Valley recruited 175 volunteers for the 2018 FIS VISA Freestyle International Ski World Cup.

To prepare for such a massive undertaking, Meg Horrocks, who oversees the volunteer effort across the three venues for U.S. Ski and Snowboard, started the search for volunteers in April.

"We wanted to capitalize on some of the resorts still being open and that winter mindset," she said.

Ever since then, she's been watching the numbers trickle in, with bumps in sign-ups when it snows.

"I could tell if it was snowing out there even if I hadn't looked at the radar," said Horrocks, who works remotely from Killington, Vermont.

She is hoping to have enough people to fill all 2,500 eight-hour shifts by Dec. 1, with orientation scheduled for mid-January. There are currently 340 volunteers registered for about 1,360 shifts.

Marilyn Stinson, who oversees Deer Valley's volunteer efforts, said she has received applications from places as diverse as Canada, Colombia and Europe, but she said the majority are from the Park City area, including some who come yearly.

"It's interesting because the volunteers that do come back year after year, they haven't seen each other since the year before, so it's kind of like a reunion," Stinson said. "They are reuniting not only with the athletes, but also the other people they have volunteered with the year before."

The volunteers also get perks – they accumulate two day passes redeemable at any of the three resorts, for the first four shifts they work, which is the minimum, then two additional passes for each two additional shifts. They also get uniforms, like winter jackets, that serve as functional memorabilia from the event.

But Horrocks said it's not just about the perks.

"When we ask people why they want to volunteer, of course they're going to say something we want to hear, but there is an excitement about, 'I'm proud of my community; I'm excited to show off my community; I've done it for X number of years and I love being part of it,'" she said.

According to Katherine Hughes, volunteer coordinator for Park City Ski and Snowboard— which is helping Park City Mountain find workers — the ideal candidate has plenty of free time and is thrilled for the event itself.

"Nothing can really trump excitement and enthusiasm," Hughes said. "If they have the excitement, the time to give, those are the two biggest qualities. But I would say enthusiasm is No. 1."

The time commitment can make it difficult to find volunteers, especially since most of PCSS's member families have two working parents.

Horrocks, who is the volunteer organizer for the Alpine Ski World Cup in Killington, said she usually sees a sharp uptick in volunteer registration in the last weeks before the event.

"But that might almost be too late," she said of the World Championships. "This is a much bigger event in terms of processing. We have to request accreditation."

Some will arrive as early as three weeks out to help greet and train other volunteers. The volunteers will be stationed in places as far as Salt Lake City International Airport, and as centrally as the aerials hill at Deer Valley, which will be home to the first team aerials competition at a World Championship.

In fact, the combination of events itself is something of a first, even though this is the third time Deer Valley has hosted the freestyle World Championships.

According to a press release from U.S. Ski and Snowboard, the 2019 World Championships will be the first in the U.S. to include all events across snowboard, freestyle and freeski disciplines.

When it comes, Horrocks said everything will be ready – from the slopes to security.

"We will not be short staffed," she said.

To volunteer, go to 2019worldchamps.com.

Events will run Feb. 1 to 10.

sports@parkrecord.com

Coal Ridge’s Kara Morgan is WSL player of the year in volleyball

Following a dominant senior season after returning from a knee injury that wiped her junior season out, Coal Ridge High School senior Kara Morgan ran away with the 3A Western Slope League's Player of the Year award, as voted on by league coaches.

Morgan was the top hitter for the Titans during the 2018 season under head coach Aimee Gerber, leading the Titans with 303 kills and 47 aces, adding a team-high 298 digs and 33 total blocks for Coal Ridge, which finished 16-9 (9-0 3A WSL), winning the league championship for the second straight year and the third time in four seasons, reaching the 3A regional playoffs where the Titans fell to Platte Valley in the championship game.

The standout senior led the league in kills by 76, had the second-highest hitting percentage behind sophomore teammate Taylor Wiescamp, and was second in the league in digs.

Along with Morgan, Wiescamp earned first team all-conference honors for the Titans after posting 203 kills, a .406 hitting percentage and 114 blocks. Senior setter Kenzie Crawford also earned first team all-conference honors for the Titans after finishing her senior season with a league-high 634 assists, adding 86 kills, a team-high 75 aces, 41 blocks and 159 digs.

Aside from the trio of Titans on the first team, Coal Ridge saw three others earn All-Conference Honorable Mention accolades.

Junior Lyanna Nevarez landed on the honorable mention team after recording 101 kills, 26 aces, 14 blocks and 178 digs for Coal Ridge. Senior Alexa Wiescamp also earned honorable mention accolades after posting 57 kills, 15 aces, 42 blocks and 66 digs.

Outside of Coal Ridge, the Grand Valley Cardinals saw senior Shaya Chenoweth and senior Kurra Hitt earn First Team All-Conference honors. Chenoweth finished her senior season with 125 kills, 24 aces and 161 digs. Hitt finished with 36 kills, 22 aces, 25 blocks and 38 digs.

Grand Valley junior Loghan Teter earned All-Conference Honorable Mention accolades for the Cardinals after posting a team-high 164 kills, as well as 28 aces and 174 digs.

The Roaring Fork Rams saw sophomore Letey Crownhart earn First Team All-Conference honors after finishing her sophomore season with 16 kills, 23 aces, 28 blocks, 164 digs, and 177 assists. Senior Gaby Santana earned All-Conference Honorable Mention accolades after posting 96 kills, 15 aces and 97 blocks.

The Cedaredge Bruins tied the Coal Ridge Titans for the most players on the First Team with three, as well as three players earning honorable mention accolades. Cedaredge coach Heather Dunbar earned the 3A WSL Coach of the Year award after the Bruins went 20-5 (8-1 3A WSL) finishing second in the league, while reaching the regional championship game where they lost to Resurrection Christian.

Rifle softball’s Kaitlyn Jackson signs with DII Adams State in Alamosa

Following an illustrious career for Rifle High School softball, Coal Ridge senior Kaitlyn Jackson, the daughter of Jimmy and Amber Jackson, is heading to Adams State University in Alamosa, where she'll join a Grizzlies program under the direction of head coach Dervin Taylor.

Jackson verbally committed to Adams State last October after Taylor offered her a scholarship at a camp in Alamosa. The Coal Ridge senior, who played for Rifle due to Coal Ridge not offering a softball program, signed her National Letter of Intent Wednesday afternoon at Coal Ridge High School in front of family and friends.

"Signing was kind of a relief," Jackson said. "It took a lot of stress off of not knowing if I wanted to go there or not. It's always been my dream to play college softball, so I'm just thankful for the opportunity."

During her senior season for the Bears, Jackson was the 4A WSL Pitcher of the Year for the second straight year. She also added four new school records this year for innings pitched (138.2), wins (17, tied for third in the state), strikeouts (169, sixth in state), and six home runs hit on the season, which tied a Rifle school record for a single season.

On the mound in her senior season, Jackson finished with a 2.88 ERA (12th in state), while hitting .452 with 32 RBIs, 12 doubles, three triples and a .945 slugging percentage. Jackson's 17 wins also helped set a school record for team wins in a season.

For her career, Jackson finished with a 3.19 ERA and 54 wins in 482.2 innings pitched. She added 523 career strikeouts and held opponents to a .253 batting average. Offensively, Jackson finished with a .368 batting average, 84 hits, 35 runs scored, 84 runs batted in, 29 doubles, five triples and 13 home runs. She also had a .462 on-base percentage for the Bears over four seasons.

"I really enjoyed my senior year with Rifle," Jackson said. "We got along great as a team, and it was fun to set school records and win all those games."

Now, Jackson will head to Alamosa to help the Grizzlies, which went 19-35 (14-22 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) during the 2018 season. According to Jackson, Taylor said she'd come in as a freshman and pitch, but if a position in the field opens up he'll try and get her consistent at-bats, as well.

"I'll be throwing innings early on for Adams State," Jackson said. "They're bringing me on as a pitcher, but he said if they have other positions open I will play there with my bat, which is nice knowing I'll see playing time right away. But they said I'd be a big part of the rotation. Pitching takes a toll on the body, and coach Taylor said he's going to need a deep, experienced rotation. I'm looking forward to becoming part of that rotation."

Outside of softball, Jackson hasn't decided on a career path in terms of school studies. She recently wanted to get into nursing but isn't quite sure how she fits into the program at Adams State. For now, she is keeping her options open.

jcarney@postindependent.com

Aspen skier, 2018 Olympian Wiley Maple healthy, ready for World Cup season

About the only thing going wrong for Wiley Maple right now is that it's been snowing too much. The Aspen ski racer has been training at Copper Mountain, which has received plenty of early-season snow with the first speed races only a week away for the upcoming World Cup season.

"The first week it was like powder every day. So it was bad for training," Maple said in a recent interview with The Aspen Times. "Coming off a relatively successful season, especially considering how long I didn't ski before that, it's pretty nice to have a full fleet of skis. Anytime you miss a whole season it's just so hard to get back in the mix."

Maple, the 2018 Olympian who is well-known for his wild child, cowboy ways is healthy for a second straight season, which is a rarity. A veteran on the World Cup, the 28-year-old has missed his share of seasons because of injury, including the entire 2016-17 winter before his comeback tour a year ago.

Despite not being named to the U.S. Ski Team last season, he was still able to represent the country at the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea, where he finished 30th in the men's downhill. As fun as that experience was, he's ready to put his focus back on the World Cup circuit.

"That feels pretty good, just to build a little bit of momentum from season to season. I've had to relearn to walk so many times," Maple said. "The Olympics was definitely a cool experience, but not that cool. The World Cup is still where it's at. … Making the Olympics is always good for the career and it just gives validation to the home crowd."

Yet again, Maple is not officially part of the U.S. Ski Team. Flying solo has usually worked out for him in the past, and there is reason to be hopeful about his upcoming season. New this year is the addition of Sam Coffey to his small entourage. Coffey, an Aspen native, former national champion ski racer and lifelong best friend of Maple's, will serve as his main ski technician during the 2018-19 World Cup season.

"I was able to convince him to work for almost no money. So I'm trying to raise enough money to take both of us around the world on the circuit this year," Maple said. "We work together all the time, but it's not usually for an actual job like this. But we grew up tuning skis across the bench from each other, so it's the same thing except he's doing it for me now."

Maple will kickoff his fundraising season Friday, Nov. 16 in Aspen. From 5 to 8 p.m. at Aspen Tap (121 S. Galena St.), there will be a silent auction, live music and plenty of other festivities that will go toward Maple's ski-racing endeavors. A $10 donation is suggested and gets you a free beer and raffle ticket.

"I think it will be fun and it will be good to see people come out," Maple said. "Most of the fundraising kind of goes all season long."

Maple plans to get his season underway with the first men's World Cup downhill on Nov. 25 in Lake Louise, Canada. He also plans to compete at the annual World Cup event in Beaver Creek the following week.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

AVSC’s Clubhouse Chronicles: The art of coaching our young winter athletes

The thrill of victory — the agony of defeat — and every emotion in between.

Competitive athletes want to win, yet with a field filled with talent and dedication, a spot on the podium can be elusive. There has been much written about the value of grit and perseverance, and competitive sports provide an ideal platform for youth to develop these attributes in a safe environment.

Developing these "soft skills" requires support: coaches must use not only their expertise in the technical aspects of sport, but also their understanding of the mental training required to persist and succeed in sports with margins of hundredths of seconds or tenths of points. This requires our coaches to not only understand the range of emotions an athlete experiences on any given day, but also guide the athlete through them in a way that promotes reflection, learning and growth.

I have been an educator for over 25 years and a parent of Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club athletes since 2009. I began working at the Club in July, and I have seen up close the care and dedication that the coaches have for their athletes and their emotional development. Social/emotional learning is something we've been discussing and focusing on frequently as a staff this fall, and as we move toward the busy season we look forward to keeping it top-of-mind.

AVSC's coaches work with each athlete to identify season and long-term goals and to develop personalized training schedules and plans to align actions to aspirations. Much of this work includes observing the attitudes and approaches through a social/emotional developmental lens. The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, (CASEL — and we include athletic) cites five primary pillars: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Each of these is broken down into more discreet competencies, and by nurturing these, athletes cultivate both the physical abilities and mental aptitudes necessary to reach their goals.

Here are a few examples of how these skills develop through on-snow programs:

• Self-awareness is critical to success in most endeavors, and stress management, one competency in this pillar, is one of the most important skills for athletes to develop. Competitions are by nature stressful situations, and athletes exhibit a variety of behaviors at the start. Coaches work with individual athletes to identify tools that help each temper his/her sense of stress, so the athlete can perform at his/her best. In addition, competitive athletes travel quite a bit and report that keeping up with school work on the road is a major source of stress. Therefore, athletes need to learn how to balance demanding training schedules with the rigors of academic life. This requires a high level of executive-functioning to plan and schedule, to manage multiple deadlines and to communicate effectively with teachers and coaches.

• Impulse control is another area of self-awareness that many youth need to develop. When coaches help teens understand the critical consequences of literally "leaping before they look," youth learn the value of managing impulses through authentic experiences. Young athletes learn how to inspect the safety of jumping off a cliff or are required to be cleared for inverted jumps on an airbag. These daily lessons instill the importance of managing impulses which will serve the athletes well in all aspects of their lives.

• Athletes must learn how to put results in perspective. Whether standing on a podium or trying to figure out why a best effort falls short, an athlete needs to reflect on each competition and learn from it. Those who tend to do well need to consider how a teammate might feel who is disappointed. And when disappointed, an athlete needs to ignite the passion to come back the next day and give it his/her best.

Coaches have lived the triumphs and disappointments of competition and call on these experiences to support young athletes through the roller coaster of emotions throughout the season. As a society, we know that youth who have trusted adults outside of the home develop a stronger sense of self that sets them up for success as adults. Our coaches are dedicated to developing each athlete to the best of his/her ability and understand that by taking into consideration the social/emotional development of each, AVSC will fulfill our goals of producing "Great Athletes, Great Kids."

Clubhouse Chronicles is a twice a month, behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. It runs in the Friday Outdoors section.

Roaring Fork boys soccer team sweeps 3A WSL postseason awards

Following a run to the Class 3A semifinals in the state playoffs, the Roaring Fork High School soccer team cleaned up the 3A Western Slope League awards as senior defender Max Candela won the league's Player of the Year award, while Nick Forbes won Coach of the Year after the Rams finished 15-2-1 (6-1 3A WSL), winning the league championship.

Candela was a staple of the Rams' lockdown back line, helping the Rams give up the fewest goals of the season in the league with just 11 goals against in 18 games, including eight in seven league games. Aside from his standout defense, Candela added four goals on the season, including a big penalty-kick goal in the second round of the state playoffs at home against the Valley Vikings.

Joining Candela on the 3A WSL first team from Roaring Fork were seniors Joe Salinas (six goals, one assist), Aidan Sloan (team-high 19 goals, nine assists) and Ronald Clemente (four goals, five assists).

Roaring Fork saw senior goalkeeper Leo Loya land on the honorable mention team after posting a 0.434 goals against average on the season with 74 saves, as well as senior Liam Laird, who recorded one goal and five assists on the season.

Aside from Roaring Fork, the Coal Ridge Titans saw senior Gustavo Archila land on the 3A WSL first team after posting nine goals and nine assists, which finished 8-7-1 (4-3 3A WSL) on the season.

Sophomore Jack Price (one goal) and senior Kade Frees (five goals, six assists) earned honorable mention honors for the Titans under veteran coach Michael Mikalakis.

The Basalt Longhorns had two players earn first team honors as junior Junior Portillo (three goals, six assists) and junior Richie Argueta (one goal) cracked the first-team roster. Junior goalkeeper Mateo Salazar (2.326 goals against average, 60 saves) and senior Bear Matthews (14 goals, five assists) earned honorable mention accolades for the Longhorns.

Grand Valley senior goalkeeper Marco Rojas earned honorable mention accolades for the Cardinals after posting a 4.692 goals against average while making a league-high 252 saves on the season.

jcarney@postindependent.com