2020 U.S. Ski & Snowboard Clubs of the Year
CLUB OF THE YEAR
Stratton Mountain School
Always one of the top multi-sport programs in America, Stratton Mountain School earned top honors as the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Club of the Year. The Vermont academy also picked up both Freeski and Snowboard Club of the Year recognition.
"We are proud to receive recognition as U.S. Ski & Snowboard's Overall Club of the year after a season of immense hard work and achievement for all five of our winter sports programs. Following this past season's athletic accomplishments, alongside another year of impressive college placements, our community is excited to continue the tradition of excellence that has guided Stratton Mountain School since 1972."
- Chris Kaltsas, Headmaster
Established in 1972, Stratton Mountain School has a storied tradition. It has sent 46 student-athletes to the Olympics, capturing six medals. Over the years, it has placed 118 athletes onto national teams, including 17 this past season. It was also named Club of the Year in 2009.
Club of the Year recognizes a club with a commitment to program, youth, and overall athlete development, along with the development of facilities, commitment to the region and national structure, coach certification, and professional development, plus season accomplishments.
Stratton Mountain School provides a unique environment that offers each student the opportunity to pursue excellence in competitive winter sports and college preparatory academics while developing strong personal values. The program, which features alpine, cross country, freeskiing, freestyle and snowboard programs, is a gold level U.S. Ski & Snowboard Podium Club.
This past year the club saw success in all five sport programs from current and alumni athletes. Will Koch won cross country bronze at the Youth Olympic Games, 2019 alum Zeb Powell took gold in knuckle huck at X Games Aspen and 2018 graduate Caroline Claire won a slopestyle World Cup at Seiser Alm.
This past season alpine sent five student-athletes to U.S. Junior National Championships, freeski qualified 15 to USASA Nationals, 75% of freestyle athletes qualified for Junior Nationals with 50% making it to U.S. Championships, nordic continued its string of 25 years with at least one medal at Junior Nationals and snowboard recorded 57 podiums at USASA events.
In recent years Stratton Mountain School has focused on facilities. It has developed a high-performance center focused on sport science and sports medicine including a field house, gymnasium, strength and condition, rehabilitation and outdoor fields, as well as an air awareness center and yoga studio.
DEVELOPMENT CLUB OF THE YEAR
Franconia Ski Club
New Hampshire’s Franconia Ski Club was named Development Club of the Year for its longstanding commitment to fostering a love of winter sports and raising successful athletes in its community. Recently, the significant investment in facilities and training venues has provided new opportunities for programming and partnerships and set the club up for continued success.
Over the past decade, the Franconia Ski Club has grown to become one of the most notable development programs in New England. Its membership has grown from 40 in 1998 to 192 this past year and a waiting list for 2020-21. The club impacted development across the region, as well as nationally, with the first phase of the Mittersill at Cannon Mountain Improvement Project, with a $4 million investment in trail and lift development. The next phase, including the Mittersill Performance Center, is underway. The venue was the site of the 2017 NCAA Championships and the 2019 U.S. Junior Championship Super-G.
The club has taken the NHARA U14 state title from 2016-2020, and the U12 title from 2015-2019. The club has a host of athletes ranking in the top five YOB in the east and top 15 in the nation. Franconia’s Dylan Welch is ranked number one in the country in slalom for YOB 2004.
Introduced in 2019, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Development Club of the Year Award is an award presented to a member club that has distinguished itself in providing outstanding youth development programs. Key criteria include exceptional or unique programming focused on developing athletes ages 13 and under; providing opportunities for youth to enter the sport, providing a positive, engaging experience for young snowsports athletes; commitment and encouragement of youth athletic development; implementation of best practices and innovation for long-term athlete development; use and support of U.S. Ski & Snowboard resources intended for development levels; conversion of athletes to higher levels of involvement, participation and competition; develops and encourages a lifelong passion and enthusiasm for participation in snowsports.
The Franconia Ski Club is a silver certified U.S. Ski & Snowboard Podium Club, presently working on its gold certification.
“Our mission at the Franconia Ski Club is to impart the joys of skiing and the lifelong lessons of healthy competition. All of our programs take that mission to heart, using it as a guiding principle in the development of our athletes. We focus on providing our athletes with the highest level of alpine racing instruction available and fostering within them a love of and respect for the sport. This approach, along with access to the world-class training and racing facilities at Mittersill at Cannon Mountain, has allowed us to develop some of the best athletes in not only the Eastern Region but also the U.S.”
- Eric Price, Program Director
SPORT CLUBS OF THE YEAR
Alpine Club of the Year - Burke Mountain Academy
A longstanding and highly revered program, Burke Mountain Academy was named U.S. Ski & Snowboard Alpine Club of the Year. The program excelled this year with success at every level from U12 up to FIS, and NorAm, including five athletes making National Development Group criteria, plus qualifying athletes for Alpe Cimbra (former Topolino) and OPA Cup. Burke has created a powerful guiding framework for its program that challenges the status quo in helping athletes manage training and racing loads. As a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Development site, Burke’s impact has extended even more broadly as a strong program partner in the Eastern Region with a Speed Week and other regional training opportunities. Burke also brought on board two notable past stars to help with the athletic programs including Felix McGrath and Olympic champion Diann Roffe, a 1985 Burke graduate.
A hallmark at Burke has been its high-quality races. At the core to that has been the contribution of David Iverson for the last 13 years at Burke, and 13 before that at Green Mountain Valley School - executing upward of 40 races annually. Iverson, who will be leaving his role, was acknowledged by U.S. Ski & Snowboard for his lifelong contribution to the Eastern Region.
Burke is a gold-certified U.S. Ski & Snowboard Podium Club.
“We consider our school and all of the athletic programs a community and we really do believe that the shared sense of commitment to one another elevates the experience. Our primary charge at Burke is character development, and the athletic and academic programs are vehicles for that holistic education. The sense of community that exists among all the athletes and their families is what makes that education possible because it cultivates an environment with a high degree of trust in which the athletes are willing to take appropriate risks, learn through failure and ultimately strive to achieve their goals.”
- Willy Booker, Headmaster
Cross Country Club of the Year - Alaska Winter Stars
U.S. Ski & Snowboard named Alaska Winter Stars as its Cross Country Club of the Year. Alaska has always been a strong division for cross country skiing. But since the inception of Alaska Winter Stars in 1997 by Jan Buron, the state is impacting the top levels of the sport in new ways. Buron believed that athletes who want to compete at the top level must begin their training as children and participate in a year-round program with the same group of coaches. It takes years of dedication to master the skills and develop the strength of a champion.
This past year, Alaska Winter Stars athlete Gus Schumacher won Junior Worlds gold, as well as leading the SuperTour and becoming a national champion. Sixteen club athletes qualified with Team Alaska for Junior Nationals with eight qualifying for the Arctic Winter Games. Over time, 17 Alaska Winter Stars athletes have taken Junior Nationals titles. Nordic combined skier Carter Brubaker qualified for the Youth Olympic Games. At the state level, 23 club athletes representing five different high schools made the Alaska High School State Championships where Alaska Winter Stars grabbed its 23rd skimeister title in 22 years. The club also won the award in 2010.
“One of our club's strengths is helping athletes develop into lifelong skiers. Our younger junior program focuses on having fun and many athletes transition to being competitive on the state, national, or even international level as high schoolers and beyond.”
- Jan Buron, Club Founder
Freeski Club of the Year - Stratton Mountain School
The U.S. Ski & Snowboard overall Club of the Year, Stratton Mountain School (SMS), was also named as Freeski Club of the Year. SMS is one of America’s premier multi-sport clubs, with its freeski program growing to become one of the most successful in the country and a catalyst for the growth of the sport in the east. Its main goal is to provide wholesome experiences to their athletes to ensure long-term success in both athletics and life. This past year the program grew by nearly 50% in participants.
Its new state of the art Air Awareness Center features a skating area, mini ramps, foam pit, trampolines, and more, giving athletes full access to top tier training. The club also provides strength and conditioning courses, yoga, agility training, and secondary sports to athletes, as well as assisting student-athletes in navigating the balance between their athletic and academic future.
SMS is an important regional center for freeski with its summer Action Sports Camp and an annual Young Guns Project on-snow. Stratton Mountain Resort also hosts multiple USASA events in all four disciplines and is a top venue for development level competition. It’s helped the club produce top-tier development athletes who have been strong in NorAms and the FIS/USASA Futures Tour, where Max Siudak won this past season in Copper Mountain. The club qualified 15 athletes to the USASA Nationals this past season. SMS is home to U.S. Freeski Pro Team athletes Mac Forehand and Caroline Claire.
Stratton Mountain School is a gold-certified U.S. Ski & Snowboard Podium Club.
“Our objective at SMS is to keep it fun, while maintaining our focus on goals. We have an awesome coaching staff that makes it fun for athletes and keeps them fully engaged.”
- Jesse Maliis, Freeski Director
Freestyle Club of the Year - Wasatch Freestyle
Utah-based Wasatch Freestyle was named U.S. Ski & Snowboard Freestyle Club of the Year. It also won the honor in 2006. Wasatch Freestyle, which operates at both Snowbird and Deer Valley, is known as one of the premier freestyle moguls programs in America, with high-level elite coaching staff, continuous engagement in events, and a congruent goal of developing the best athletes and leaders possible.
This past season, 16 Wasatch Freestyle athletes qualified for Junior Nationals, 12 for U.S. Championships, three for Junior World Championships, nine for the NorAm tour, and two for World Cup. On the NorAm tour, Wasatch collected a dozen podiums plus a season title for Madison Hogg with sister Kasey second. The club also played host to both the Bumpin’ the Bird regional competition, as well as the Deer Valley NorAm.
But the club’s focus goes well behind results and events. It takes pride in its staff and the work it does to teach life skills and core values. In nominating Wasatch Freestyle, the freestyle community spoke about the club as a role model to others, exemplifying best practices with its dedication, work ethic and passion for freestyle skiing.
“Wasatch Freestyle has provided a very positive experience for young people and their families who have come through our programming. Along with our partners, Deer Valley Resort and Snowbird, we have not only been able to provide area youth with a great competitive ski program but also an experience where young people learn great life skills - leadership, time management, goal setting and good citizenship. I am fortunate to have worked with so many great young people and their families over the years. Wasatch Freestyle is one of the great living legacies of our Olympic movement and a tribute to the ski industry here in Utah.”
- Jon O’Brien, Director
Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping Club of the Year - Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
For the fourth consecutive year, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC), a gold-certified club, has been named U.S. Ski & Snowboard Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping Club of the Year. It’s the sixth time the club has won the honor.
As a multi-discipline club, SSWSC has a unique approach to youth development with different disciplines working together. It’s unity between club, community, staff, athletes, parents and volunteers, together with its major support partners of the City of Steamboat Springs and Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation, gives the program a strong platform from which to work. Over the last two years, the club has soared to its highest numbers with 150 athletes participating in the jumping and combined program.
The club placed five of the eight athletes on the Youth Olympic Games Team with seven on the Junior Worlds Team. Niklas Malacinski finished fifth at Youth Olympic Games and qualified for the national team. SSWSC qualified 15 athletes for USA Nordic national teams next season.
SSWSC is a gold-certified U.S. Ski & Snowboard Podium Club.
“We believe that high-end athletics is a byproduct of strong life skills like, commitment, grit, perseverance, dedication and striving with passion. While the SSWSC has had great success producing many national and Olympic team athletes, our focus is more centered on the life skills and the achievement process. We believe success is all about setting a foundation of life skills that will serve an individual in athletics and beyond. We are just proud of our members that go on to be successful in other endeavors as we are with our Olympians.”
- Todd Wilson, Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined Director
Snowboard Club of the Year - Stratton Mountain School
The 2020 U.S. Ski & Snowboard overall Club of the Year also picked up honors as Snowboard Club of the Year. Under the leadership of Olympic champion Ross Powers, SMS Snowboard is recognized as one of the top programs in the nation, committed to providing each student-athlete with the opportunity to pursue excellence in competitive winter sports and college preparatory academics while developing strong personal values.
Training groups are formed at SMS based on ability, motivation, and individual goals. Athletes go through a fitness evaluation to determine groups, with coaches working one-on-one with athletes to develop goals.
The program is committed to both youth and long-term elite athlete development in the region, holding multiple camps throughout the year. The winter Young Gun Project allows athletes to experience on-snow training at Stratton Resort and winter-term tutoring at SMS. The summer Action Sports Camp hosts athletes in Stratton’s new Air Awareness Center.
With a long-standing commitment to events, SMS hosts annual USASA competitions in all six disciplines. This past season it also helped to host a 2020 Futures Tour event at Mount Snow as well as the 2020 Vermont Open at Stratton Resort.
In the 2019-20 season, SMS snowboarders scored 18 top-10 finishes in Futures Tour events, with five athletes earning Rev Tour starts. SMS riders also took 57 USASA podium finishes. SMS rider Zeb Powell took X-Games knuckle huck gold with SMS junior Acy Craig taking part in the Youth Olympic Games.
Stratton Mountain School is a gold-certified U.S. Ski & Snowboard Podium Club.
“After 10 years of leading the SMS Snowboard Team, I’ve come full circle from my days as a student-athlete at Stratton Mountain School to now helping the next generations by providing them with the knowledge and the opportunities to progress to their highest level.”
- Ross Powers, Snowboard Director