Mason gives back to the snowboard community through unique program
One Team focuses on the body and mind of an athlete
FRISCO — Nichole Mason has always loved being on the snow.
This was evident from some of her first moments in Summit County after her family moved to the area when she was in third grade.
It was in Summit County where Mason and her brother, Ethan, made the transition from skiing to snowboarding, which would spark a lifelong love of the sport for the siblings and set the groundwork for Nichole Mason’s adult endeavors.
Mason was a team member of Team Summit out of Copper Mountain Resort from sixth grade through her senior year of high school, competing on the circuit in snowboard halfpipe, snowboard cross and slopestyle contests. It was with Team Summit that her love for the sport truly blossomed.
After graduating from Summit High School in 2007, Mason deiced to take some time away from the sport by attending Metropolitan State University in Denver. However, it wasn’t long before she felt like a piece of her was missing.
“When I was in Denver, something just didn’t feel right,” Mason said. “It was almost like I lost a little piece of my soul. I was like, ‘I just don’t belong in the city. I miss snowboarding.’”
Mason found solace back in the mountains by picking up a snowboard instructor job at Loveland Ski Area on the weekends while still attending school.
It didn’t take long as a snowboard instructor for Mason to make connections that would help open doors for her for years to come.
“Through the grapevine, I was reacquainted with Laura Munch,” Mason said. “She was actually one of my coaches while I was on Team Summit, and I told her my ultimate goal was to someday get into high-performance coaching.”
From there, Mason began her tenure as a snowboarding coach, dropping out of college with a degree in leadership in outdoor education but forgoing her second degree in sports psychology.
Mason began as a substitute coach with Team Summit and slowly started working herself up the coaching ranks.
“For me, it was so cool,” Mason said. “It was kind of full circle to where I was an athlete on the team, and now I was getting this cool opportunity to start coaching for them.”
In the years to come, Mason would serve many different roles as a snowboarding coach, going from a substitute coach to a weekend coach with Team Summit, helping out with Adaptive Action Sports and being a ProAm coach with Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard.
During Mason’s five years with Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard, she started to make her mark as a coach, most notably coaching Silverthorne local Chris Corning straight to the U.S. Pro Team. Corning went on to qualify for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics at age 17 and more recently placed second in the slopestyle competition at the 2021 Winter Dew Tour.
Mason then transitioned to coach with U.S. Ski & Snowboard and was nominated for development and domestic coach of the year in 2017. In 2020, she was the first woman to win international coach of the year alongside being awarded overall coach of the year.
Despite a year full of success as a coach, Mason felt her heart being pulled toward something else during the pandemic in 2020.
“Over quarantine, a few doors sort of opened, and I ended up taking that leap of faith,” Mason said. “I ended up quitting basically mid-pandemic from a extremely secure job.”
Mason, now 32, has started her own coaching program, One Team, based out of Summit County in order to give back to the community that cared so much for her as a young snowboarder.
“The main reason I coach is to give back in order to help these athletes meet their goals and be successful because I had that person in my life, and it was special,” Mason said. “I get my happiness by seeing other people succeed and knowing that we did it together.”
Mason’s training program takes a holistic approach in hopes of developing young snowboarders. One Team focuses on all aspects of an athlete, from the athlete’s body to their mind.
Mason has a full-time tumbling coach and a sports psychologist on staff to teach her athletes how to do aerial flips without equipment and to help them navigate any mental challenges they may be facing.
“I think it is a fairly big missing piece to the puzzle. There are so many coaches who only focus on the snow,” Mason said. “I’ve seen a lot of riders excel who have a background in gymnastics or trampoline work.”
In the team’s second season, Mason is already seeing success coaching four full-time athletes and two part-time athletes in slopestyle, big air and snowboard cross disciplines with a few of her athletes competing at the World Cup level.
One of her athletes, Fynn Bullock-Womble, who is 16-years-old and is on the U.S. rookie snowboard slopestyle team, is currently trying to qualify for the 2022 U.S. Olympic team.
Bullock-Womble, who is originally from North Carolina, spends his winters living in Copper Mountain in order to train with Mason.
“She’s always super positive and is there for me off and on the snow,” Bullock-Womble said about Mason. “She’s helped me to progress my snowboarding and helped put stuff into play in big contests, which has led to some big finishes.”
In Mason’s eyes, One Team is just in its beginning stages, and she has big dreams for where the coaching program could grow in the next few years, both in terms of athletes and coaches. The program also has a partnership with Adaptive Action Sports.
“We are going to continue to pursue really having this team as a family,” Mason said. “Really focusing on giving back to the community, growing our numbers, and allow this adaptive partnership to really flourish in order to see the benefits and stoke of able-bodied riders and adaptive riders training with each other.”
Those interested in finding out more about the program can visit OneTeamInt.com
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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