AVSC this week: It’s a great recruiting season
If this was football, it would be considered a solid draft season.
Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club recruited well this year, as new additions to the staff include a former World Cup skier, X Games medalist and five-time NCAA All-American.
Meet three of the new AVSC coaches:
Just qualifying for the Winter X Games as a relative unknown in 2004 would have been enough for AVSC product Peter Olenick.
But to walk away with silver and bronze medals in slopestyle and superpipe surpassed his wildest expectations.
Reflecting back on his first of eight consecutive X Games, Olenick said, “The feeling is indescribable. I thought that I had hit the highest point in my life just making it into the X Games. Then, you add two medals to that feeling in front of a hometown crowd and the world watching on ESPN. It made me proud to be from the valley and show that my skills were as good as anyone’s in the world.”
Freshly retired from competition, this season Olenick will coach AVSC’s Team 2 freeskiers.
“I see a lot of the passion that I had at that age. I have a good eye and knowledge of the sport and cannot wait to share that with them.”
Olenick has plenty to share; he’s worked with his two siblings, Michael and Meg, helped pal Simon Dumont hone new tricks and lent his expertise to the Red Bull Performance Team during camps, he said.
But the 29-year-old has also learned how to rebound from disappointment after that first taste of Winter X Games glory.
“When you’re a nobody, the only steps are forward, when you have a name you can fall backward. I fell backward and came back forward many times in my career,” he admitted.
In 2010, Olenick not only won the X Games gold medal for Big Air but he was surprised on the podium with a Guinness World Record for highest air out of a pipe — 24 feet, 11 inches.
He will be forever credited with inventing the double flatspin “Whisky Flip,” and remains a featured player in Warren Miller and TGR films.
Tiitu Romar, 27, is the new U16 alpine coach. A member of the 2009 World Championship Team, Romar skied in 18 World Cup races during her nine years on the Finnish national team, with slalom being her best event.
Romar’s giant slalom improved while a student at the University of Utah; she was honored as Female Skier of the Year in 2012 by RMISA (Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Skiing Association), a season when she was on the podium six times including three as the winner.
At the time, University of Utah coach Kevin Sweeney said Romar “has been a leader from Day 1 on this team.”
He cited her as being “100 percent supportive in the development of her teammates.”
Not surprising then that she received the Toril Forland Outstanding Skier Award as a skier at the University of Utah.
With degrees in athletic training and coaching and leadership from Utah and Umea University in Sweden, Romar said she brings “a broad way to look at things.”
Versed in international training methods, she is also accustomed to skiing culture in the United States.
Romar competed at many World Cup venues, but never made it to Aspen. She arrived here sight unseen Oct. 1 with boyfriend Ryan Wilson, an AVSC post-graduate athlete who hopes to be in the hunt for a NorAm title.
Tiitu will have someone else to cheer on this season — younger brother Andreas Romar, a speed skier who has been named to the 2014 Olympic team for Finland.
AVSC’s alpine ability class program is growing in size, strength and reputation.
Lisa Perricone, former head ability class coach for Eldora Mountain Ski and Snowboard Club, has brought years worth of experience to a newly created position at AVSC.
A native of Steamboat Springs, Perricone, 28, found success at a young age, competing in the famed Trofeo Topoleno race in Italy and later, the World University Games.
Before heading to the University of Colorado, she took two post-graduate years to compete because, “I wanted to be able to commit 100 percent of my time to skiing to see where I could go with the sport. My goals were to make it onto the U.S. Team during those years.”
She went far as an amateur athlete. At CU, Perricone was a member of its 2006 NCAA championship team, ski team captain and a five-time All-American.
From there, she became the head alpine ability class coach for Eldora Mountain Ski and Snowboard Club before joining AVSC this fall.
“We currently have a lot of (post graduates) in our Aspen program doing the same thing with similar goals,” Perricone said.
One of those post grads is Julia Mueller-Ristine, who is currently at a Copper Mountain camp designed for National Training Group skiers.
“We have a very inspiring group of athletes this season,” Perricone said.
For more on AVSC, be sure to check out “Weekly with Walt,” which debuts today, Nov. 6, on GrassRoots TV.
Featured is Aspen native, cross country skier and national team member Simi Hamilton, who is aiming for his second consecutive Olympics.
“Weekly with Walt” airs at 7 p.m. and repeats during the week.
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There might be part of Hailey Swirbul that is finally beginning to believe she belongs. The 22-year-old cross-country skier is coming off quite a stretch with the U.S. ski team, one that includes her first career World Cup podium and a successful go in the notorious Tour de Ski stage race.