New skiing program to enroll jibbing youths | AspenTimes.com

New skiing program to enroll jibbing youths

Nate Peterson

The Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club has big plans for the upcoming winter.The club has hired two-time Snowmass Freeride Series overall champion Vince Lahey to head up a new big-mountain skiing program. Lahey, who has been a volunteer coach for AVSC in years past, said the program is designed to teach young athletes ages 13 and older how to ski the entire mountain as it is naturally laid out.”We’re going after the kind of kids who like to jump off cliffs, ski the steeps and test their limits on the more difficult terrain,” Lahey said. “Every kid likes to brag that he skied [Highland Bowl]. We’re just kind of playing on that.”With that demographic in mind, Lahey was quick to point out that any local skier interested in the program – regardless of ability level – can sign up. To get the program up and running, Lahey said the club needs commitments from five skiers minimum.”It is a very graduated program,” Lahey said. “We’ll start with where they’re at and then work them up. We definitely want to open the doors to whoever is interested.”The new program will train during one weekday afternoon and on the weekends once the ski season begins. In the offseason, skiers will train with the AVSC freestyle team. The new program will incorporate both freestyle and alpine aspects, but Lahey insisted big-mountain skiing is a discipline unique to itself. “Although this is called freeskiing, it has nothing to do with freestyle,” he said. “The thing is that it draws as much from racing as freestyle. As you approach cliffs and steeps and stuff like that, it’s all about maintaining your style and form that you were taught. How much fear can you control? How fast you can go and not break form?”The objective of the new program is to groom junior skiers for big-mountain competitions around the state. Currently, the only local big-mountain competition open to junior skiers is the annual U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships in Crested Butte. Lahey plans to work with the event organizers of the Snowmass Freeride Series to allow junior skiers to compete there as well.”Since I do have some history with them, I think I can probably make it work,” he said.At the U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships, AVSC athletes will compete against other junior big-mountain teams from Telluride and Park City, Utah. The program will make two trips to Crested Butte for training, and before the actual event in February. “We want the team to become familiar with the terrain and test out their lines prior to the event,” said AVSC freestyle director Eric Knight.The big mountain program at AVSC is a step in a new direction, but it’s not a step that reflects any national trend in skiing, Lahey said. While freestyle skiing as a whole has trended toward the terrain park in recent years, extreme freeskiing has been around for some time. The new coach said he doesn’t expect the new AVSC offering to pull too many skiers away from the existing freestyle programs in place.”The kids who love to jib love to jib,” Lahey said. “The same for the kids who love to race. This style of skiing is totally different than skiing in the terrain park. It’s for kids who want to ski natural terrain and test themselves.”More information on the new big-mountain program is available at http://www.teamavsc.com.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com

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