AVSC goes virtual for awards banquet, Faulhaber takes home biggest honor
AVSC AWARDS 2019-20 WINTER SEASON
Bob Beattie Award: John Tinker
Gale Spence Excellence in Coaching: U14 coaches (alpine), Colby Lee (freestyle), Rob Russell (nordic), Wylie Adams (snowboard)
Ruth Whyte Outstanding Volunteerism: Anna Cheyne (freestyle), Craig Ward (nordic), Scott Sandblom (snowboard), Mike Morgan (alpine)
Stirling Cooper Memorial Award: Emma Barsness (nordic), Gus Siegel (snowboard), Chase Kelly (alpine), Owen Nelson (freestyle)
Samuel Ryan Coffey Memorial Award: Tanner Perkins
CORE VALUES AWARDS
Tage Pedersen Commitment Award: Roan Smith (snowboard), David Conners (alpine), Cooper Kendrick (freestyle), Eva McDonough (nordic)
Robert Oden Teamwork Award: Wyatt Palmer (alpine), Kelly Hilleke (freestyle), Noah Wheeless (nordic), Jade Hanson (snowboard)
Dick Butera Integrity Award: Luke Penton (freestyle), Corbin Carpenter (nordic), Jude Hanson (snowboard), Stella Sherlock (alpine)
Willoughby Award: Kate Oldham
Pursuit of Excellence Award: Kate Oldham (nordic), Shayne Sandblom (snowboard), Jake Morgan and Tanner Perkins (alpine), Hanna Faulhaber (freestyle)
Andy Mill Award: Hanna Faulhaber
Alpine: Tessa Munro, Ally Cornelius, Meagan Olsen, Elle Murphy, Greyson Cromer, Ramon Torva
Freestyle: Jon Sallinen, Jacob Power Smith, Samuel Gibb, Luke Penton, Maxine Mellin
Nordic: Kate Oldham, Elizabeth (Lizi) Barsness, Jordan Miner, Rachel Devlin, Greta Hansen
Snowboard: Gus Siegel, Logan Lauffer
Hanna Faulhaber understands the role the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club has played in making her into one of the country’s best young halfpipe skiers. That’s why it meant so much when the club recognized her accomplishments like it did earlier this week.
“It’s pretty big. My whole life I’ve been skiing with AVSC,” Faulhaber said. “They’ve helped me out so much, especially the past few years. I’ve been progressing so much and my coaches have been helping me along the way. It’s been meaningful.”
Faulhaber, 15, was given the Andy Mill Award on Tuesday by AVSC, the highest individual honor the club hands out each year. This year was a bit different, however, as the awards banquet went virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of the usual in-person affair, AVSC posted a roughly 36-minute video online that announced all of its award winners for the 2019-20 season, finishing with Faulhaber.
“It’s not what we necessarily would have scripted, but I think the coaches and everyone did a great job recognizing the athletes for their hard work throughout the year,” AVSC executive director Mark Godomsky said. “It was different. Had a little character to it. Everyone had their own personality show up in their own little presentations. I thought it was pretty cool.”
While there are some standalone awards, most of the honorees were divided up by the four main disciplines the club offers: Alpine, Nordic, freestyle and snowboard. The biggest awards for athletic accomplishments are the Pursuit of Excellence Awards, with the Andy Mill Award winner being chosen from among those four.
This year’s Pursuit of Excellence winners included Faulhaber for freestyle, Shayne Sandblom for snowboard, Jake Morgan — who represented the U.S. in Slovenia this winter — and Tanner Perkins for Alpine, and Kate Oldham for Nordic. Oldham was last year’s Andy Mill Award winner. Cassidy Jarrell, who got his first X Games start this winter, won the Andy Mill Award the two years prior.
“It’s a big accomplishment — a lot of recognition. She really stood out,” AVSC freestyle program director Eric Knight said of Faulhaber. “When she came back from the Youth Olympic Games, she seemed so confident. You could see it in her skiing. It was really neat to see and it was really rewarding.”
Faulhaber, who is wrapping up her sophomore year at Basalt High School, has exploded onto the scene over the past two seasons. This winter included Faulhaber earning her first World Cup starts, including when she made her first World Cup final, finishing seventh in Mammoth. She won the season-long Nor-Am Cup title for women’s halfpipe skiing, one of her biggest goals entering the year, which gives her starting rights in all World Cup events next winter.
Her favorite moment? That was winning bronze at the Youth Olympic Games in January in Leysin, Switzerland. She was one of only two girls selected to represent the United States in the prestigious youth event.
“By far Youth Olympics. It was just such a cool experience and being able to live in this village with everybody and being able to luckily get third there just topped it all off,” Faulhaber said. “The year before this season was pretty big, and then this season was just like the next step and was also a very big year for me competing in my first World Cups.”
The pressure will grow by leaps and bounds the next two winters, with the 2021 World Championships slated for next season and the 2022 Winter Olympics to follow only a year later. Faulhaber is hardly guaranteed a spot in either, but her rapid rise certainly makes her a legit contender. Her main goal next season is to at least be named an alternate for X Games Aspen, if not earn a starting spot in the hometown event.
“In a way it’s kind of the beginning of the qualifying season for the Olympics, which probably won’t happen, but you never know,” Faulhaber said. “Nervous, excited — it kind of feels weird, too. Flashback to when the World Cup was here at Snowmass. I rode up the chairlift with Maddie Bowman and Cassie Sharpe, and I was completely fangirling over them. And now I’m competing up against them, so it’s a big reality check and kind of insane. I don’t think my head has quite wrapped around what is going on yet.”
SAM COFFEY’S LEGACY
The only new award handed out by the AVSC this winter was the Sam Ryan Coffey Memorial Award. It was named after Coffey, an Aspen skier who died last spring due to medical complications while vacationing in Mexico. He grew up with the club and was an all-American ski racer in college. He was best friends with World Cup skier and Aspen Olympian Wiley Maple, serving as his ski technician during the 2018-19 World Cup season.
“When Sam passed a year ago there were a number of people in the community that felt he was an important part of the history of AVSC and he was such an avid skier and a great athlete who had come up through the club,” Godomsky said. “So Mike Maple and Wiley were behind part of it, then the club took it over. It’s going to be an annual award that goes to an Alpine FIS-level ski racer that kind of embodies who Sam was.”
This year’s winner was Tanner Perkins, who comes from Crested Butte and has trained with the Aspen club for a handful of winters. On top of an aspen leaf belt buckle, Perkins was gifted a $2,500 grant for summer training. Perkins is among those pushing the threshold of possibly making the U.S. Ski Team.
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The Snowmass Cross Country Center will not reopen its doors this winter for Nordic ski rentals or lessons, Ute Mountaineer staff confirmed Thursday.