AVSC fires alpine director, 18-year club veteran
Dave Hjerleid, Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s alpine director and an 18-year veteran of the club’s coaching and administrative ranks, recently lost his job.While rumors concerning Hjerleid’s departure have swirled since AVSC dismissed him April 18, Hjerleid said Monday that the club simply chose a path that does not involve him.”I didn’t resign nor was I asked to,” Hjerleid said. “It was a bit of a surprise, but that’s their prerogative. It’s within their right as a youth sporting organization.”AVSC did not publicize the move, and word of Hjerleid’s departure first surfaced Friday in an Aspen Times letter to the editor from AVSC coach Casey Puckett, who said Hjerleid “stepped down to pursue other avenues in life.”AVSC Executive Director Mark Cole was not available for comment Monday.Chris Anderson, a 15-year volunteer who grew up in AVSC’s ranks and said he is now questioning his involvement with the organization, blames the misinformation on the club’s tight-lipped administration.”This isn’t the first time they’ve fired a director,” Anderson said. “I just think they could’ve gone about it a little less secretly. “There has to be some kind of appreciation for [Hjerleid’s] work over the years.” Hjerleid first joined the club 18 years ago as a part-time J5 coach. For four seasons Hjerleid, who grew up as a nordic skier but was always enamored with alpine disciplines, worked with the club’s youngest athletes. In the two years that followed, Hjerleid seized the opportunity to represent AVSC in an exchange program in the French Alps.Hjerleid returned to Aspen for one more winter before accepting a position with Sunlight’s alpine team. He held that post for three years.When the opportunity to rejoin AVSC arose, Hjerleid returned to Aspen as a J3 coach. One year later he was coaching the club’s competitive Ability Program. AVSC then asked him to assume a leadership role, and he reluctantly accepted. “I was interested in this job because of the community, not because of a fondness for ski club administration,” Hjerleid said. “It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life so far. It was a lot like going to school, and it was a great education.”Anderson, who was a teenage club skier when Hjerleid first signed on, has been impressed with Hjerleid’s passion for the kids and the program, as well as his commitment to mastering a new discipline.”The fact that he grew up as a nordic skier makes what he did even more inspiring,” Anderson said. “He stepped up and took that blood-borne penchant for skiing to a passion, which I guarantee made a difference in more than a few high-level alpine race achievers’ lives.”Anderson said he was shocked when he received word from a fellow volunteer about Hjerleid’s dismissal. He said they agreed it was an injustice.In a letter to The Aspen Times on Friday, Anderson said he is boycotting the club in response. He said he won’t be the only one.”I’m upset with them,” Anderson said. “[Hjerleid] was great to work with and good for the kids. He was really dedicated. We’re all going to miss him.”Hjerleid insists he harbors no ill will toward the club. He is, however, grateful for the opportunity to work with coaches and athletes who, he said, have become “friends for life.”He also said he’s looking forward to the future, one that will soon include a new addition to his family. Hjerleid’s first child, with his wife, Margaret, is due any day.”It’ll be an exciting new chapter,” Hjerleid said. “I’m proud of my association with AVSC, and I’m proud of what we accomplished. I’ve never been surrounded by so many talented, hardworking people.”It was far more than a job.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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