Aspen golden boy Paul Britvar ponders future
It’s a tossup – 2005 or 2006?Aspen senior Paul Britvar can’t decide which trip to the state skiing championships was more rewarding. Britvar wrapped up four years of high school alpine competition with his third straight individual slalom title. He also won the giant slalom title for the first time in four years, after finishing third the previous two years. But Britvar noted that finally winning two golds at state last month arguably wasn’t as rewarding as winning the team title last season at Keystone.
After jumping out to a 17-point lead over Summit, the Skiers watched their chance at an eighth boys state championship slip away on the final day of competition with costly mistakes in the slalom, the day before.Britvar’s teammate, Wiley Maple, missed the final gate on his final slalom run, which would have stood for second place had Maple not been disqualified. Britvar’s other two top teammates – Whit Fuller and Sam Coffee – both missed gates as well, and wasted precious time hiking up the hill to get back on course. Fuller finished 34th and Coffee, 35th.The window of opportunity allowed Summit to steal the lead for good, despite a gold medal from Aspen junior Noah Hoffman in the meet’s finale, the nordic freestyle race.”In the end, it all just comes down to you doing your best individually,” Britvar said. “Skiing’s an individual sport, so all you can do is try your best to help the team. This particular year, we all did our best, but it didn’t work out. The best thing about winning the state title was that it’s a really great example that you need everyone’s help to accomplish it. Even with the combined titles from Noah and I this year, we still weren’t able to take the gold, which just proves how hard it really is to win.”There are no regrets, however, Britvar said. With such a talented team, Britvar noted that it was a remarkable accomplishment that he and his classmates stuck together to make another run at a team title.
The Colorado High School Activities Association’s races aren’t connected with the International Skiing Federation, which means aspiring World Cup racers like Britvar don’t collect valuable FIS points when they compete in them. And since FIS points determine national ranking, it’s hard to rationalize choosing a high school race over an FIS-sanctioned race.As one of the most talented junior skiers at the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, Britvar had ample opportunity this season to focus on his FIS rankings and forget about high school races. He even competed against eventual Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety earlier this season in a NorAm Cup slalom.But, he said, “the school has given me so much, and I feel it’s my duty to try to give something back.””High school ski racing isn’t the most amazing competition,” he added. “But I feel like participating for the school is an important factor. I have the rest of my life to do FIS races.”
As for his plans now that the high school season is over, Britvar said he is weighing his options. He still has a shot of earning a spot to compete at junior nationals this month in the tech events if he continues to follow up on some strong results earlier in the season. If he makes it to nationals, there is the possibility of earning a spot on the U.S. Ski Team’s development squad. If he fails to make it to nationals this year, Britvar said he will likely stay in the valley and continue to train with his AVSC coaches for another year with his sights set on making the development squad. He’s applied to some of the top skiing schools in the country as a backup plan.Admissions will likely play a key role in his decision, Britvar said, although it is likely he’ll likely defer his freshman year, regardless of which schools accept him. His top three choices are Dartmouth, Middlebury and the University of Vermont. Britvar also applied to the University of Colorado. “I really wanted to take a practice year, ski around and see what I could do with my points and work on my skills to a point where I could get on the U.S. Ski Team,” he said. “But I’ve been applying to colleges so that I can get community scholarships. The scholarships will carry over, even if I defer.”
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Aspen’s Cassidy Jarrell was bumped up to the U.S. freeski A team for this coming winter season, which remains in limbo as coronavirus cases rise across the country.