Clubhouse Chronicles: Buttermilk Glacier is AVSC’s summer training ground
AVSC executive director
Editor’s note: This will be the final Clubhouse Chronicles column of the winter season. It will return for the summer on May 31.
With the calendar turning to May, many of us in the Roaring Fork Valley are ready for warmer weather and all of the activities that come with it — dry trails to run and bike on, higher waters to raft and wade, and simply enjoying the longer days of summertime.
In a small corner of our valley, it’s guaranteed to stay winter until the end of June. Where the monstrous jumps and halfpipe of the X Games once towered over the base of Buttermilk, our coaches have been busy transforming it into a summer training ground, lovingly known as Buttermilk Glacier.
When the Glacier is fully formed, it will consist of two airbags (one big, one small) for jumps, as well as a series of boxes and rails. Thanks to all the snow, this year we’re able to have an additional line of rails and jumps as well as a mogul line. An immense thank you goes out to Aspen Skiing Co.; we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to run a camp of this caliber on home snow and it certainly would not be possible without our partnership.
The value of having an on-snow training ground at home is immeasurable. We’re able to keep costs down; doing all four weeklong sessions at Buttermilk Glacier costs less than a week at Mount Hood or Whistler, both typical training grounds for freestyle athletes. Additionally, a small venue creates a focused environment; athletes are able to complete repetitions of their tricks quickly and efficiently. Many people wonder how our athletes learn to fly through the air, rotating and flipping with ease. These tricks are the results of thoughtful progressions through work repetitions on the trampolines, airbags and eventually snow.
Buttermilk Glacier provides an environment for accelerated learning, while it might take an athlete all winter to “qualify” a trick during airbag sessions in order to land it on snow, they might accomplish that feat in a few weeks at Buttermilk Glacier thanks to the concentrated nature of airbag training. Buttermilk Glacier is a great chance for all athletes, just starting out and those more advanced, to benefit from the guidance and expertise of our top-level coaches.
The value of Buttermilk Glacier carries into our competitive season with less injuries and better results. Quite a few AVSC athletes have received invites to U.S. Ski Team Gold Camps this summer, invite-only camps intended for the top skiers in their age groups in the country. The AVSC athletes that received invites to a Gold Camp — including Hanna Faulhaber, Reese Chapdelaine, Kai Morris and Nick Geiser — have spent extensive time on Buttermilk Glacier. Alumni like Alex Ferreira and Matt Walker have made guest appearances, as well.
AVSC freestyle program director Eric Knight explains that time on snow in summer for athletes is transformative not only from a skills perspective, but also in regard to his athletes’ identities: “Glacier camp has created a shift, especially in younger athletes, from considering something as something they do to considering a skier as something they are. Something to work toward year-round, something that is truly a part of you.”
Buttermilk Glacier opens June 3 this summer and continues throughout the month of June. Check out http://www.teamavsc.org/summer for more info or to sign up! All four sessions filled last summer, so sign up soon. Camps are available for athletes ages 7 and older.
Clubhouse Chronicles is a twice-a-month, behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club during the winter months. It runs in the Friday Outdoors section.
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More trails will open for the season on Sunday for mountain bikers in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Glenwood Springs.