AVSC snowboard coach Mason takes job with U.S. rookie team

AVSC's Nichole Mason from the 2016-17 winter season.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

After five years working with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, snowboard coach Nichole Mason has moved on to the big stage after taking a job with U.S. Ski and Snowboard. She was recently hired as the national rookie team coach for slopestyle and big air.

“It’s a really cool opportunity and I’m definitely honored that I got the position and they wanted me on board,” Mason said last week from Park City, Utah. “It’s something I’ve wanted to accomplish since the first day I started coaching, so it’s cool to be able to work my way through the ranks and have the opportunities that I did at AVSC. They are definitely a big part of the reason that I got the job.”

Mason, 28, was the AVSC’s Team 2 coach, which is comprised of its high-end competitive athletes. Among the snowboarders she has coached over the years is Summit County’s Chris Corning, a 2018 Olympian and X Games athlete who is on the U.S. pro team.

She’s also been the primary coach for Evergreen’s Jake Canter, who trains through the AVSC. Canter, 14, is coming off a strong season in which he won the Junior Jam in Vail to qualify for the Burton U.S. Open, finished first in halfpipe and third in slopestyle on the World Rookie Tour, and took second in the men’s open class in halfpipe at USASA nationals.

While the official teams won’t be announced until next month, Mason said Canter will be named to the U.S. rookie team in both halfpipe and slopestyle.

“He’s stoked to come along with me and to get a nomination for both halfpipe and slopestyle is pretty rare. It’s a huge thing for him,” Mason said of Canter. “I’m very honored and excited to be a part of it and be able to use all those resources in order to help each athlete along their personal journey.”

Mason, who was born in California, has roots in Summit County. She long worked with Team Summit before making her way to Aspen. She considers her main mentor to be AVSC’s Miah Wheeler, the former snowboard program director who became the club’s development director this past winter.

Last year, Mason was named the USSA Snowboarding Domestic Coach of the Year as well as the Development Coach of the Year, two of the top honors a coach can receive. Her offer to join the U.S. national team is hardly a surprise, and she feels working with the rookie team athletes is exactly where she should be.

“Where my strong suit lies is in the development of those athletes. I really enjoy the age range,” Mason said of the 14 to 19 year old group. “Just staying here in this position and getting the experience and all that sort of stuff is going to be a good place for me to be for a while.”

Summer may be here, but Mason and the U.S. national team have already hit the ground running. Many of the snowboarders are currently training in Mammoth, and they’ll have other training opportunities throughout the next few months in Oregon, Switzerland and New Zealand. In between, the athletes will get plenty of airbag and dryland training in Park City.

“It’s beautiful here. I’ve had a handful of really great people reach out to me,” Mason said of her new home. “It’s been great so far.”