Giving in Snowmass: Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club aims high | AspenTimes.com

Giving in Snowmass: Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club aims high

Compiled by Jill Beathard

Editor's Note: Giving in Snowmass is a series about nonprofits that serve the village that will be published in the Snowmass Sun this fall.

As the Roaring Fork Valley's oldest youth nonprofit, the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club helps young and adaptive athletes achieve their highest potential in winter sports. Snowmass is home to much of the club's training as well as many of its athletes.

Snowmass Sun: How did your organization start?

Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club: AVSC was founded in 1937 to develop Alpine racers and help establish Aspen as host of high-level competitions including the National Championships in 1941. It was run by volunteers through the 1960s and served roughly 25 athletes each year. By the 1970s participation grew to 150, and coaches were paid. Significant development happened in 1993 when the club merged with Aspen Skiing Co.'s Aspen Winter Club — a learn-to-ski program for local kids — and absorbed two existing Nordic programs and a snowboard program. Currently, AVSC has 2,300 participants in Alpine, Freeride, Snowboard, Adaptive, Nordic and Base Camp. One in three of these participants receives a scholarship to ensure that all children have the opportunity to participate.

Snowmass Sun: What is your mission?

Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club: The mission of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club is to provide all youth in the greater Roaring Fork Valley the opportunity to excel as athletes and as people through winter sports. We believe in opportunity, excellence and values:

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Opportunity — All children growing up here should have the chance to ski or snowboard.

Excellence — We have to help those who want to reach their full potential — they should not have to leave Aspen to find the training they need.

Values — Through skiing and snowboarding we can instill the values of commitment, teamwork, and integrity in every participant. We also help our athletes acquire creativity, hope, perseverance and social responsibility — character assets identified in the Cradle to Career Initiative.

Snowmass Sun: What services do you provide to the community and who do you serve?

Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club: Children of all families throughout the valley grow up with AVSC, and nearly 60 percent are from downvalley and farther flung locations. AVSC is the largest such club in North America providing competitive programs to 600 athletes in Adaptive, Alpine, Freestyle, Nordic and Snowboard. AVSC employs 100 coaches, eight office staff and over 300 pros from Aspen Skiing Company. AVSC provides close to a million dollars a year in scholarship support, chaperoned buses, and equipment scholarships to provide access throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

Snowmass Sun: What makes AVSC unique?

Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club: AVSC is the oldest nonprofit and the largest youth organization in the valley. It is the only nonprofit focused on the sports that have defined local culture, and it provides the most robust scholarship program resulting in its leadership in Latino participation. AVSC works on creating great athletes who are also great kids with each child learning our core values of commitment, teamwork and integrity.

AVSC has received statewide and national recognition for the excellence of its programs:

Colorado Ski Hall of Fame's 2011 "Top of the Hill" Award for outreach efforts

United States Ski and Snowboard Association's (USSA) 2011 Club of the Year Award, chosen from among over 400 clubs in the country.

USSA's Adaptive Club of the Year Award in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Five AVSC coaches have recently been named USSA Coach of the Year.

ACRA's only non-profit to win nonprofit of the year twice, in 2005 and again in 2014.

Snowmass Sun: What is the best thing about operating in Snowmass Village?

Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club: The best thing about operating in Snowmass Village is that Snowmass has the most versatile skiing and riding in Aspen/Snowmass. Our entire team, from 7-year-olds to aspiring professionals can train on one mountain. Having every training venue close by is a huge asset, as it lets the entire team interact more.

The Boardercross course at Snowmass allows us to host local events, as well as an international event. This year AVSC is hosting an International Paralympic Committee Boardercross. We expect nearly 20 nations to be represented this season. It is also extremely rare to have a full-time boardercross training facility. We are one of the few programs in the world that have such an amazing venue in our backyard.