Ski club names new alpine director |

Ski club names new alpine director

Jon Maletz

After nearly two months and a search that spanned the entire country, the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club has finally found its man.The club announced Wednesday that Jeff Kai, current head of development for the U.S. Ski Association’s Western Region and a 15-year coaching veteran, has signed on as new alpine program director. Kai is currently working with 18 elite-level athletes at Mount Hood, Ore. Before his tenure in Aspen officially begins Oct. 1, Kai will head to South America with another group.”There has been clear direction from the board, staff and parents to hire a director who can play a strong role on the hill and help our coaches develop professionally,” club executive director Mark Cole said in a news release. Cole could not be reached for comment Wednesday. “Jeff has the experience we were looking for, and he’s well-suited to lead our program.”Kai served for seven years as head coach at the Mount Hood Academy in Oregon, and most recently has worked for six years as development manager for the USSA’s Western Region. Walt Evans, director of the National Development System for the U.S. Ski Team, said in the news release that the region has experienced the greatest success among the nation’s programs during the last several years at developing athletes to their fullest potential.Kai has also taught USSA certification seminars for alpine ski coaches, experience that will provide an added benefit in Aspen, said Alan Cole, AVSC marketing and development manager. “He will definitely raise the caliber of our athletes and our coaching,” he added. The club decided on April 18 to sever ties with former alpine director Dave Hjerleid, an 18-year veteran of the organization’s coaching and administrative ranks. While details of the split weren’t disclosed, Hjerleid told The Aspen Times in early May that AVSC simply chose a path for the future that didn’t involve him. Ever since, the AVSC board’s program committee and staff members scoured the country and talked with people in the industry in order to pinpoint candidates. The search identified Six potential replacements – from Oregon to Vermont – said Alan Cole, who took part in the interview process. The club formerly interviewed five candidates. Kai quickly emerged as the front-runner, Alan Cole said.”It was the depth of his experience. No question,” he said. “He has worked with elite-level athletes and has great experience running a program.”We’re thrilled to get him.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is