Clubhouse Chronicles: Q&A with AVSC and national ski team alumna Katie Ryan
As part of our bi-weekly Clubhouse Chronicles, Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club is profiling athletes who we are deeply proud to call AVSC alumni.
This time it is AVSC and U.S. ski team alumna Katie Ryan — also known as “Sunkist” or the “OG Sporty Spice” — who is a model skier and citizen alike.
In this Q&A, Ryan reflects on her favorite AVSC memories, successful ski racing career and keeping up with the boys.
Question: How did you first arrive at AVSC?
Katie Ryan: I arrived on the front line of Powder Panda’s kid-sled after eagerly rushing my parents to get me there on time. I started skiing around age 5, practically geriatric by today’s standards for starting your local kid on skis.
Q: What discipline and which years were you involved with AVSC?
KR: I ski raced with AVSC from age 10-18. I started racing simply because I won an end-of-year RidgeRunner ski race. My parents were startled but naively followed a recommendation that I try out AVSC’s race program. The cool kids had team jackets; I showed up in a bright yellow-orange ski suit and was deemed Sunkist (thanks, Pat Callahan). I was also deemed the slowest in the group and mom was told I needed to keep up. I’ve been trying to beat the Wiley Maple and the likes down Ajax ever since.
Q: How far did you go in your skiing career?
KR: As an Aspen High School senior in 2011, I was named to the U.S. ski team, in large part thanks to AVSC and their amazing coaches. Skiing for the U.S. ski team, I raced at the highest level of competition on the World Cup circuit. I was on the ski team for five years and in that time was ranked top 60 in the world within downhill and super-G for consecutive years. I also sustained several injuries during my time on the ski team, with eight surgeries in six years — my last knee injury resulting in my retirement in early 2016. I am fully healthy again and love skiing more than ever.
Q: What are you up to these days?
KR: The USST pulled me to Park City, Utah, in 2011 and I’ve been there since. The career opportunities and access to the mountains make it hard to leave. I’m currently an analyst at Wasatch Global Investors and am pursuing my CFA with Level 2 in November. My life is overflowing with activities like mountain biking, backcountry skiing, hiking, beach volleyball, rollerblading, etc. My boyfriend can keep up on skis, so that’s a plus.
Q: What life skills or values did your time spent on the mountain help instill in you?
KR: My teammates and I were traveling to weekend races without our parents by age 12 or earlier. We learned life skills and teamwork in just figuring out how to cook for ourselves and getting to the van on time, let alone during the actual sport. We trained “full strip” (i.e. just our speed suits) through blizzards on the glacial old Tiehack lift with fierce determination for a faster time each run. The all-encompassing word for AVSC’s imprint on their athletes is grit. I wouldn’t be the overachieving person I am today without this club.
Q: What is one of your favorite AVSC memories?
KR: I can’t stop beaming thinking through my favorite AVSC memories! Here’s one: I was rising in the ranks as a second-year J4 and AVSC was holding J4 Junior Olympics. I had high hopes of podiuming, but instead crashed race after race. Each day was more soul-crushing than the last, with my hope of a podium flying out the window. I finally managed to cross the finish line in the super-G (maybe I won, I can’t remember). All I remember was being thrilled in the finish corral with all my friends and knowing I just dug myself out of a rut.
Q: AVSC’s core values are commitment, teamwork and integrity. Which core value resonates most with you, and why?
KR: Ski racing is a brutal sport. Cross a finish line (hopefully) and instantly your time is reflected in green or red, you’re winning or you’re losing. Although it is an individual sport, you can’t do it alone. Teamwork resonates with me deeply because at the end of the day, it’s the people, coaches and teammates that matter the most. The relationships I’ve forged through ski racing are the strongest of all my friends.
Q: If you were to tell the community one thing about AVSC, what would it be?
KR: AVSC is teaching your kids how to ski or snowboard while indirectly teaching them to be good little humans. Their coaches will be your kids’ most impactful teachers and we as a community are lucky to have individuals that care as much as they do.
Q: We hear you may bear the nickname “OG Sporty Spice” — what’s the story here?
KR: Ha! Well, if you know me at all, you know I have a tangible zest for life. This zest has brought me to tops of mountains with snowblades in hand a time or two. I think this nickname originally stemmed from my hot doggin’ ski style. I’m Katie Ryan, the OG Sporty Spice, and I hope you see me exude the joy of skiing as I take a Hollywood lap this winter under a chairlift near you.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
KR: AVSC’s Ajax Cup is right around the corner and after getting second in my last race, I’m coming for the win. Better come prepared Kristina Koznick! For everyone else, there is still time to purchase a team if you are so inclined. Donations go toward AVSC’s scholarship fund and it’s a rowdy good time. audiajaxcup.com.
Missed Our Last Clubhouse Chronicle?
Clubhouse Chronicles is a behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club that runs periodically in the Aspen Times sports section.
The Basalt High School football team only needed one half to put away visiting Grand Valley on Friday night, winning 42-6 in the league opener on a wet BHS field. It was also homecoming for the Longhorns.
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