2020 U.S. Ski & Snowboard Coaches of the Year
COACH OF THE YEAR
Snowboard International Coach of the Year
U.S. Snowboard Team
U.S. Snowboard Slopestyle Rookie Team Slopestyle Coach Nichole Mason (Dilon, Colo./U.S. Snowboard Rookie Team) was named Coach of the Year by U.S. Ski & Snowboard for her work in continually leading top development athletes to achieve their personal bests. She also won honors in her sport as Snowboard International Coach of the Year.
“Thank you to all of my athletes! My time spent with you means the world to me. And to my fellow coaches, thank you for the shared passion and commitment. I am proud of all that we accomplish as a team, together we are creating an amazing community.”
- Nichole Mason
Mason’s athletes thrive in all levels of competition. Her biggest success was when Rookie Team athlete Dusty Henricksen, 19, made history at the U.S. Open last March by landing the first-ever backside quad cork 1800 in slopestyle competition, finishing in second place. In addition to Hendricksen’s success, multiple development team athletes hit the podium in Rev Tour and Grand Prix events including Courtney Rummel and Ty Schnorrusch.
Mason has served as an inspiration to all of her athletes, especially as a role model to young female riders. She sees room for growth in women’s snowboarding and has made it a goal to be a role model herself and to mentor young women. In addition to her accomplishments with her athletes, Mason has also dedicated a significant amount of time to the development of coaches education materials, leading clinics, and pioneering women’s specific coaches education clinics and athletic camps.
Mason was recognized as Development Coach of the Year in 2017. She is the second female coach to win the overall Coach of the Year since its inception in 1998. Freestyle Coach Liz McIntyre won in 2004.
“This award came as a total surprise and is an absolute honor to be recognized as Coach of the Year. My position with the U.S. Team has been a blessing and it’s amazing to be sharing this passion with everyone along the way. Although it can be tough to watch my athletes move on, I am nothing but proud knowing I helped prepare them to become the best versions of themselves in their athletic careers and as young adults.
DEVELOPMENT COACH OF YEAR
Ski Jumping./Nordic Combined Coach of the Year
Ford Sayre Ski Club
A World Cup winner and one of the past stars of his sport, volunteer coach Mike Holland (Norwich, Vt./Ford Sayre Ski Club) is making a difference for the next generation of ski jumpers. Under his leadership this past season, Ford Sayre qualified five young athletes to the Junior National Championships - the most ever for the venerable jumping club in Brattleboro, Vt. which has a long history of sending athletes to the Olympic and national team.
Mike Holland and his brothers grew up in the Olympic-rich town of Norwich, Vt. Brothers Mike and Jim were ski jumpers, while Joe skied nordic combined - three Olympians in one family. Mike became a ski jumping legend, winning the Bischofshofen, Austria Springertournee event in 1989 - still today the only American World Cup win.
Holland is a tireless volunteer, working to improve snowmaking, upgrading jumping facilities and recruiting kids from local schools. After retiring as an athlete in 1990, he went into business with his family. He was thrust into coaching temporarily around a decade ago, and it stuck. Now, you can often find him out early packing the hill for jumpers all the while negotiating on the phone for a used winch cat or snowmaking equipment to help make the jumper better.
Today he coaches with brother Joe, working with around 50 kids each year at Ford Sayre in Hanover, N.H., as well as with the Lebanon Outing Club jumps in neighboring Vermont. Using his engineering skills, he also developed a portable roller ski jump which is being used as a recruitment tool by clubs around the country.
“Ski jumping, as a sport, teaches key life lessons. I realized it for myself as an athlete, but more so now as a coach. When you confront your fears, you see a transformation in kids’ personalities. You know it’s going to help them in everything they’re going to do the rest of their lives.”
- Mike Holland
SPORT COACHES OF THE YEAR
Alpine International Coach of the Year
Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team
A former national team athlete and a 10-year veteran coach of the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team, Forest Carey (Park City, Utah/U.S. Ski Team) was named Alpine International Coach of the Year by U.S. Ski & Snowboard for his leadership with the men’s giant slalom team. It was his third time being honored with the award, having won in 2011 and 2015.
It was inspiring to watch Carey’s athlete Tommy Ford come of age with his first career World Cup victory, winning on home snow in Beaver Creek last December. Ford took a second podium in Japan two months later, finishing fifth in the season World Cup giant slalom standings before the season was cut short with two races remaining.
Carey has a deep sense of caring about his athletes and it shows every day on the hill. He is so passionate and has so much belief in his athletes that he instills confidence. Carey is a student of the sport and always analyzes the details after every training session and competition - split times, course sets, equipment performance, snow quality. He has a sixth sense for his athletes’ needs and an unwavering standard for slope preparation. Carey has shown himself to be a gifted coach and it’s no coincidence that he has coached three of the seven U.S. athletes who have earned a World Cup giant slalom win.
“It is sort of an odd feeling because we are a part of these athletes’ lives when they are at the elite level. But their families and their entire local ski communities are really the people who cultivated these athletes’ passion, commitment, and skill, and, therefore deserve the recognition. I share this award with the selfless, caring, competent staff of coaches, servicemen, and physios whom I work with every day. We as a staff are fortunate to work dedicated athletes who are also great people. I hope we represent the American ski community well at the World Cup level. I’m honored to win this award.”
- Forest Carey, Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team, Men’s World Cup Technical Head Coach
Alpine Domestic Coach of the Year
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Ben Brown (Steamboat Springs, Colo./Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club), who serves as the U16 Head Coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC), was named Alpine Domestic Coach of the Year. A former Western State College racer who has been coaching for over 15 years, is known as a humble coach with a strong work ethic.
Brown’s success with athletes has been achieved by extending his own qualities to his athletes, with strong expectations of them, gaining their respect and achieving results. His work, and that of his coaches, have resulted in SSWSC having a high percentage of athletes transition from U16 to FIS racing.
Steamboat qualified six athletes this season for U16 Nationals. Tatum Grosdidier was the overall winner at the Rocky/Central U16 Junior Championships and qualified for the U16 National Project in Alpe Cimbra where she finished sixth in GS. Brown attended Alpe Cimbra to support Grosdidier but also help all the U.S. athletes and learn from other international coaches. Nick Demarco won the Rocky/Central U16 super-G while Katya Thurston, Caroline Gilchrist, Colin Kagan, and Charlie Welch all had podium or top five results. The results are typical of what Brown has accomplished in building a rich history in the Steamboat U16 program under his leadership.
A year ago, Brown was nominated by his peers to serve as the Rocky Mountain Division Alpine Competition Committee chair. He has brought his work ethic and positive attitude into the important divisional role. He also frequently serves on regional and national projects.
"It is quite an honor to receive this award as there are many great ski coaches in this country, many of whom I look up to as mentors. I am grateful to have had opportunities to coach at U16 International Competitions each of the past three seasons. Witnessing the best U16’s in the world train and compete has helped me to develop a sense of ownership in the mission of US Ski & Snowboard to win at every level.
“It is my goal to help all my athletes become great ski racers as well as to guide them into becoming model citizens who care about their teammates and the world around them. As a team we strive to build each other up during the tough days and we share in the celebrations of achievement with one another.”
- Ben Brown, U16 Coach, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Cross Country International Coach of the Year
Alaska Winter Stars
Alaskan coach Jan Buron (Anchorage/Alaska Winter Stars) was recognized by U.S. Ski & Snowboard as Cross Country International Coach of the Year for his work in leading Gus Schumacher to two Junior World Championship gold medals.
For more than 20 years, Buron’s Alaska Winter Stars program has been a strong force in Alaska, creating new generations of cross country skiers. Under his leadership, 19-year-old Schumacher has brought American cross country skiing to a new level. This past season Schumacher anchored the U.S. Junior Worlds relay team to its second-straight World Championship gold medal, as well as becoming the first American to win Junior Worlds gold in an individual event (10k classic). Schumacher also took a U.S. title, won a pair of SuperTour events and qualified for the Davis U.S. Cross Country B Team.
“There are no words for how it feels to see my athletes achieve their dreams. I am personally happy to be a part of US skiing history, first with the historic relay gold and then Gus' individual medal. I am immensely proud of all the relay team members in 2019 and 2020 and all US skiers. Right now US skiing is so strong.”
- Jan Buron, Founder, Alaska Winter Stars
Cross Country Domestic Coach of the Year
Stratton Mountain School
Patrick O’Brien (South Londonderry, Vt., Stratton Mountain School) was named Cross Country Domestic Coach of the Year. O’Brien, in his sixth year coaching the elite SMS T2 team.
In a program where recruitment of elite athletes is paramount, O’Brien has had success sustaining a world-class training group for all elite participants. His team presently includes a Junior World Champion, four World Cup podium athletes, and an Olympic gold medalist in Jessie Diggins.
This past season, athlete Ben Ogden split his time between the University of Vermont and SMS T2. Ogden skied the second leg of the Junior World Championship relay team that took gold. Sophie Caldwell hit the World Cup podium in Davos and was fourth in three other events. Julia Kern hit the podium in both the U23 World Championships and the Planica World Cup - finishing third in a freestyle sprint for her first career World Cup podium.
With his experience, O’Brien is often called upon to coach international teams. He always extends his skills to help athletes from all clubs.
"I have so many people to thank for helping me along this journey, especially Sverre Caldwell for being instrumental in sharing his knowledge and passion for coaching with me these last years. I also recognize our team and the amazing athletes I work with day in and day out. Their drive and passion for the sport has been so incredibly rewarding for me and like any coach knows, seeing them achieve their goals brings a big smile to my face! I am very honored to receive this award and recognition as Cross Country Domestic Coach of the Year.”
- Patrick O’Brien, SMS T2 Team Coach, Stratton Mountain School
Freeski International Coach of the Year
U.S. Freeski Team
U.S. Freeski Rookie Team Head Coach Ryan Wyble (Park City, Utah/U.S. Freeski Rookie Team) was named as Freeski International Coach of the Year for his work with the Rookie Team. It was an evolutionary step for Wyble, who a year ago was named overall Development Coach of the Year.
Wyble has put his decade of coaching experience at some of the top development clubs in the country, such as Park City Ski & Snowboard, to provide Rookie Team athletes a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and encouragement, ultimately leading them into major success this past season.
The Rookie Team performed well in competitions at every level this season. Deven Fagan and Cody LaPlante both earned their first world Cup podiums at the Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix and at the World Cup in Font Romeu, France. Despite competing against prior Olympians and World Champions, these rookie athletes were able to hold their own. Wyble’s athletes also performed well at the Youth Olympic Games, with Hunter Henderson taking third in slopestyle. The team also dominated the NorAm Cup, with Henderson and Rell Harwood taking the slopestyle and big air titles.
The success of the Rookie Team athletes wouldn’t be possible without the care and dedication Wyble brings to coaching. He gives each individual athlete equal respect and attention, heightening their morale and is overall a key asset to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.
“To be recognized for my work as a coach amongst a long list of my colleagues is an honor. It feels incredible to receive an award for two consecutive years. Lastly, I want to emphasize how much work and effort all the athletes put in and want to congratulate them all on what they achieved this past season.“
- Ryan Wyble, Head Coach, U.S. Freeski Rookie Team
Freeski Domestic Coach of the Year
One of the most highly-qualified technical coaches in his sport, Dan Shuffleton (Waterville Valley, N.H., WVBBTS) was named Freeski Domestic Coach of the Year. He was similarly honored by U.S. Ski & Snowboard in 2014.
Shuffleton serves as freeski program director and head coach for New Hampshire’s WVBBTS (Waterville Valley Black and Blue Trail Smashers). He is a certified level 300 freeski coach, level 400 aerials coach, and has helped contribute to the education materials for the level 100 freeski coach certification. Shuffleton has a breadth of knowledge on the most effective coaching techniques, as well as the freeski discipline as a whole.
With athletes competing at every level including World Cup, NorAms, Futures Tour, and USASA events, Shuffleton has led WVBBTS towards major success. His athletes are now national team members for the U.S., Hong Kong, and Great Britain, further proving his credibility and dedication to long-term success.
As far as facilities are concerned, Shuffleton pioneered an airbag set-up at Waterville to facilitate year-round training. Athletes travel from all around the nation to airbag with Shuffleton and the WVBBTS team. He also has taken up cat driving and attended Cutters Camp to help better the terrain at their home park.
In addition to his passion for improving WVBBTS and their athletes, Shuffleton has a strong drive to improve the freeski discipline. He is a source of knowledge and mentoring for other coaches. Shuffleton has become a staple in the east with his lifelong love for the sport and his dedication to improving the community.
“We as coaches have many roles to play and can be many positive things to an athlete. We can be friends, motivators, fan club presidents, guardians, influencers, agents, sounding boards, chauffeurs, counselors, consciences, advocates, and advisers. It can be hard work as a coach in a sport like ours but you know what they say, ‘If you love what you do. you'll never work a day in your life.’
“The award is the mark of a great season for the receiving coach, the clubs or programs that we represent and all the athletes and families that we positively affect as coaches and mentors both on and off the hill."
- Dan Shuffleton, Freeski Program Director, WVBBTS
Freestyle International Coach of the Year
U.S. Freestyle Team
Since joining the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team last summer as head aerials coach, Vladimir ‘Vlad’ Lebedev (Russia/U.S. Freestyle Ski Team) has quickly proved his worth, expertise, and professionalism. He was named Freestyle International Coach of the Year. With his extensive knowledge on aerials and air dynamics, as well as his experience as both an athlete and international coach for multiple countries, he is well respected in the world’s freestyle skiing community.
Lebedev’s athletes had an incredible season with multiple podiums at U.S. Championships and World Cups, as well as personal bests for several athletes. Vlad emphasized dedication and proper preparation in the summer ramping season to make sure the aerial skiers put it down when it counted in competition. With Ashley Caldwell taking third at the World Cup in Krasnoyarsk, Chris Lillis and Megan Nick earning first and second at the World Cup in Kazakhstan, and Justin Schoenefeld taking his first career podium with a win at the World Cup in Minsk, Belarus, the team proved to be one of the best in the world.
Four of Lebedev’s athletes are currently ranked in the top 10 in the world due to their victorious season. With a personal background in the sport, a dedication to each athlete on the team, and a desire to see the U.S. improve in aerials, Lebedev has been beneficial to U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes.
“My motivation as a coach is to develop my athletes into their true potential. I always strive to provide my very best self to them so that they in turn become the best at what they do. This past season was a good step in our three-year plan as we head into Beijing 2022. I worked hard to integrate our new staff into our team culture and we were able to learn from each other and grow together. There’s still a lot of work to do, but everyone is excited to get back to it!”
- Vladimir Lebedev, Head Aerials Coach, U.S. Freestyle Ski Team
Freestyle Domestic Coach of the Year
Olympic medalist Bryon Wilson (Park City, Utah, Wasatch Freestyle), now head coach for Wasatch Freestyle, was named Freestyle Domestic Coach of the Year.
Although Wilson is only in his second year of coaching, he has brought extensive experience and continued involvement in the freestyle world. As a U.S. Ski Team alumni who has podiumed in the Olympics, U.S. Championships, World Cups and NorAms, Wilson provides both inspiration to athletes as well as his personal experience on what it means to be a professional athlete.
His athletes had a strong season including the women’s NorAm overall title and second place - with both athletes likely to advance to the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. Three of his athletes qualified for Junior Worlds with one athlete taking a U.S. Junior Nationals title.
This success is not only from the technical knowledge Wilson is able to provide, but from the personal motivation, support, and encouragement he shows all young athletes. Wilson is also fully engaged across the freestyle community as a board member of ID One Foundation, the owner and operator of the ID One USA pro mogul camp in Whistler, and a contributing member of multiple U.S. Ski & Snowboard committees.
The freestyle community respects Wilson’s dedication to progressing moguls skiing in America. He is an inspiration to coaches, athletes and officials of the Freestyle community and is expected to continue building strong athletes at Wasatch Freestyle.
Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined International Coach of the Year
USA Nordic Continental Cup coach Tomas Matura (Czech Republic/USA Nordic) has been named Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined International Coach of the Year for his work with the men’s and women’s teams, especially two-time Continental Cup winner Tara Geraghty-Moats.
Matura was a veteran competitor for the Czech Republic with strong results on the Continental Cup tour. He began working with USA Nordic as a wax technician where athletes regularly raved about fast skis. With a passion for coaching, his responsibilities were elevated on the Continental Cup tour, coaching both men and women. He quickly found success with the team, especially its rising women’s star Geraghty-Moats, who established herself as the best in the world. Matura has guided her to back-to-back Continental Cup titles. In addition, his men’s team scored six top-10 Continental Cup finishes, as well as five top-30 Junior Worlds finishes between men and women.
This spring, Matura was named head coach of the women’s nordic combined team. The USA Nordic Women’s Nordic Combined squad can look forward to the debut next season of both a season-long World Cup tour plus the initial World Championships for women.
"Tara is a great team leader and such a hard-working athlete. It’s been a pleasure to work with her. So now it is time that the rest of the team will start chasing her. I'm looking forward to the first World Cup season and World Championship event for women's nordic combined next season. I'm happy that I can be part of this growing and successful team from the beginning of women's nordic combined.”
- Tomas Matura, Continental Cup Coach, USA Nordic
Snowboard Domestic Coach of the Year
Park City Ski & Snowboard
A popular and effective coach, Nick “Pops” Poplawski (Park City, UT, Park City Ski & Snowboard) was named Snowboard Domestic Coach of the Year.
Poplawski is known in the snowboarding community as one of the sport’s most knowledgeable and welcoming coaches. He is acknowledged as a technically savvy coach who keeps the atmosphere of his team light and fun. He’s also a sports historian who puts emphasis on passing down the sport’s culture to up-and-coming athletes.
Poplawski has consistently helped talented athletes come out of his program each season. In addition to his dedication to athletes on his Park City program, Poplawski gives back to the sport in many ways, including as a national Gold Camp Coach and at the Club Excellence Conference. improving the sport as a whole. Poplawski is an example of what coaches should be to achieve the ultimate goal of all athletes being lifelong participants of the sport.
“This award means a lot to me as I have always taken a ‘rider's first’ approach. I really try to focus on rider success, whether that be in contests, filming or personal development. Beyond that being a steward of the sport is huge for me. I'm always striving to do everything I can to help riders fall in love with snowboarding the same way my coaches did for me as a young rider.”
- Nick Poplawski, Snowboard Coach, Park City Ski & Snowboard