Challenge Aspen collects plenty of hardware at NASTAR nationals
When Challenge Aspen’s Deb Gravelle took four local skiers to the 2018 NASTAR National Championships last weekend in Squaw Valley, California, the success of the trip had little to do with ski racing.
For the athletes, it was about the greater experience of competing so far from home for the first time and taking in all that came along with it.
“The skiing is fun and everything, but these guys spent seven nights together,” Gravelle said. “They had fun at night. We actually played a game of truth or dare. They just had so much fun. It was silly stuff, like bobbing for a carrot and putting your face in the snow. But it was really fun and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I think that’s a big part of it.”
Of the four Challenge Aspen athletes, Justin Jolley, Tanner Jadwin and Chris Guay all come from Glenwood Springs, while Lauren Jackson represents Aspen. The group also had a fifth, Drew Boglioli, join them from Steamboat Springs.
“They got to experience a lot of different things,” Gravelle said. “These guys have never skied out of state. They got to ski some really challenging conditions. Mashed potatoes and the whole bit. They did really good. It was very cool to see.”
After a blue bird first day in Squaw Valley, conditions were less than ideal from there. Wet, heavy snow and gusting winds gave organizers all they could handle, with the top part of the mountain even being closed to racers because of the conditions.
Despite this, the Challenge Aspen crew found a way to excel. All four from the Roaring Fork Valley — Jolley, 19; Jadwin, 25; Guay, 37; and Jackson, 27 — returned home with a gold medal, while Boglioli took a silver medal back to Steamboat.
Earning a bronze medal in his age group was Carbondale’s Peter Green, who volunteers for Challenge Aspen. Green drove to California ahead of time and took everyone’s skis and boots with him, saving the rest a lot of trouble.
“Every night was a challenge getting back to the house and getting all of our things dried so we could be comfortable to at least start out the next day,” Gravelle said. “Those guys were there and they were fully into it. They gave it all they had. It was pretty cool to see.”
Back and better than ever this year, Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club will host its annual Sports Swap on Sunday, Oct. 9, on Market Street in Willits.
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