Aspen Valley Ski Club grads head to college ski programs
The Aspen Times
Area high school graduates are starting to pack for college.
A dozen recent grads and alumni of the Aspen Valley Ski Club will pack all of their ski gear when they head off to college ski racing programs next fall.
“I’m just happy these kids have the opportunity to ski in college,” said Johno McBride, the alpine race director for AVSC and a veteran coach with years on the World Cup circuit. “All these kids have worked their tails off. It’s great to see them continue with ski racing.”
The AVSC college-bound skiers include a mix of alpine and cross country skiers.
“We couldn’t be more proud of our group this year,” said Maria Stuber, the AVSC Nordic director. “I think we’re most proud of how far this group has come over the years.”
On the alpine side, Andrew Hancock, a top AVSC ski racer, will attend the University of New Hampshire and compete for the ski team there.
Anne Parker is scheduled to race at Montana State University in Bozeman.
Erin Spence will attend Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, and race on the alpine team.
Cody Wilson and Katie Harris both will ski at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire.
Nick Mitchell will extend his alpine racing at the University of Colorado
“College ski racing is fun,” McBride said.
“I raced in college. It’s a good team environment.”
Top racers still can ski up to their competition levels and advance, he said.
For college student-athletes, club ski racing programs are flexible to accommodate a collegiate academic load, McBride said.
It’s often refreshing for the skiers to enjoy the team camaraderie of ski racing in college, he said.
“It helps with your time management to ski and handle a heavy work load,” McBride said. “With the chance to ski college, who knows what can happen.”
He said the number of AVSC products heading to college ski programs reflects the individual commitment to ski racing and the AVSC support.
“They’ve given up a lot to get here,” said Stuber, the cross country racing director for AVSC. “They’re ready.”
The AVSC cross country all-stars are led by Hailey Swirbul, who will attend the University of Alaska-Anchorage on a skiing scholarship.
The former age-group national champion is joined by a host of other AVSC cross country skiers bound for college programs.
High school state champion Graham Houtsma will attend Bates College.
Anna Fake will attend Montana State.
Finn McNamara will attend Colby College in Maine.
Nina Beidleman will ski for Western State Colorado University in Gunnison.
“I hope they really go for it,” Stuber said. “You really only have this one opportunity in … your athletic window. That’s it. You’ve got to do it now.”
She said the AVSC staff is excited to follow the progress of the skiers at the college level.
Stuber added that the AVSC skiers going on to ski in college also provide valuable reinforcement for the younger AVSC athletes, who might have a future in college racing.
“We’re really excited for all of them,” Stuber said.
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American giant slalom stud Ted Ligety won six times at Birds of Prey, be it five World Cups and/or gold in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, but we have to remember what a struggle it was for him to get there.