Clubhouse Chronicles: At home on the AVSC’s Stapleton Training Center
AVSC Executive Director
The Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club kicked off our sixth season on the Stapleton Training Center at Aspen Highlands on Saturday, Nov. 9, with our earliest opening yet. It’s been an exciting couple of weeks on my morning commute up valley, waiting to come around the corner and see Highlands come into view, noting the progress each day: piles of snow building up and eventually flattening out to blanket the looker’s left side of Aspen Highlands.
For those of you who may not know where the training venue is, it’s the Golden Horn and Thunderbowl trails on Aspen Highlands. It’s long enough, wide enough, steep enough, and safe enough to run an International Ski Federation (FIS) sanctioned downhill race. It is an incredible resource, and one we’re so grateful to have in the backyard of the AVSC Clubhouse. But more than that, it’s home to our AVSC athletes.
The Stapleton Training Center is much more than an Alpine training and race venue, especially this time of year. Our teams come together to make a plan that works for everyone. This past weekend, there was plenty of open space to work on technique through freeskiing and drills. Our freestyle and snowboard teams slid rails and boxes and practiced their halfpipe tricks by launching off a quarterpipe into an airbag. Alpine racers trained in slalom and giant slalom courses. Mogul skiers tore through a line of bumps and jumps. We’re exploring solutions for our Nordic teams, who have had a few days on snow thanks to the city of Aspen and Aspen Nordic Council.
Training at home is a big deal for us. The value is unquantifiable; our athletes are able to maintain their normal patterns — school, sleep, family life — and get world-class, early-season training without leaving the Roaring Fork Valley. Aside from removing a logistical burden for families, it translates to substantial cost savings as well. There are very few mountains that are open for early-season training in Colorado (Copper, Winter Park and Loveland are the only others to my knowledge). This doesn’t mean that other clubs aren’t skiing; it means that they’re traveling. We are grateful to provide phenomenal training in the Roaring Fork Valley for our teams as well as visitors — national teams, ski academies and independent teams alike.
Many thanks go out to the team, both at AVSC and Aspen Skiing Co., that worked to get the venue into the incredible shape that it’s in. There’s no certainty around the schedule with venue preparation; a string of sustained cold temperatures is all it takes. This means that without much warning, our crew has to be ready to spring into action. From the initial surface preparation (blowing and pushing snow) to the venue preparation (grooming, building jumps, prepping the airbag) to the safety precautions (installing safety fencing), it takes a great deal of hands to successfully and safely kick off the season. Thank you to all who made it happen.
Clubhouse Chronicles is a behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club that runs periodically in the Outdoors section.
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Prior to starting his trek across U.S., Larkins had never run more than a marathon and had never been to Colorado