U.S. Ski & Snowboard Names Top Coaches For 2021-22
Top club and national coaches have been recognized by U.S. Ski & Snowboard as a part of its annual awards program. Recipients were acknowledged both for athletic accomplishments and contributions to the broader success of the sport.
Development Coach of the Year honors went to Ben Wisner of Mammoth Mountain. Longtime U.S. Ski Team alpine coach Forest Carey earned Coach of the Year recognition.
“Clubs and coaches are core to the success of athletes both at the local level and nationally,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Director of Sport Education Gar Trayner. “It’s exhilarating to recognize the amazing success stories we’re seeing around the country.”
OVERALL DEVELOPMENT COACH OF THE YEAR
SNOWBOARD DEVELOPMENT COACH OF THE YEAR
Ben Wisner, Mammoth Ski & Snowboard Team, Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
Ben Wisner, director of freeski and snowboard for the Mammoth Mountain Ski & Snowboard Team, has been named both overall and snowboard Development Coach of the Year. He was recognized by his peers as a ‘one-of-a-kind coach’ whose success with his own program at Mammoth also has a strong impact on the sport nationally.
Wisner has been coaching for over 20 years. During his time at Mammoth, Wisner has helped the program become a breeding ground for young talent. Under his direction, MMSST has placed more than a few athletes on the U.S. Snowboard Team, including Olympians Chloe Kim, Maddie Mastro and Dusty Henricksen.
One of the keys to Wisner’s success is that he is always looking to the next generation of athletes. This past season, he extended his expertise as a coach at Junior World Championships in Switzerland. He was a valuable asset to the team both on and off the snow.
His peers acknowledged him for his work in connecting with athletes and pushing them to the next level with his passion for the sport.
OVERALL U.S. SKI & SNOWBOARD TEAM COACH OF THE YEAR
ALPINE TEAM COACH OF THE YEAR
Forest Carey, Park City, Utah
Veteran alpine coach Forest Carey was recognized as Coach of the Year as well as Alpine Coach of the Year. It was the fourth time he has won the alpine honor.
In his 12-year career with the national team, Carey has become known for his passion and caring for his athletes—instilling confidence in them. He is a student of the sport and analyzes every last detail after training and competition from video analysis to split times to equipment performance.
The highlight of the season came at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, where Ryan Cochran-Siegle took super-G silver. It was an inspiring performance marked by perseverance and fortitude as Cochran-Siegle overcame injuries and hardships with Carey supporting him the entire way.
U.S SKI & SNOWBOARD TEAM SPORT COACHES OF THE YEAR
Cross Country - Jason Cork, Stratton Mountain, Vt.
Longtime U.S. Ski Team World Cup Coach Jason Cork was awarded the Cross Country Coach of the Year honors.
Cork has worked with three-time Olympic medalist Jessie Diggins since 2010, before she was on the national team. He serves as both her personal coach and wax technician. A year ago Diggins won the overall World Cup title as well as the distance World Cup title. This past season, she won two Olympic medals—silver in the 30k freestyle mass start and bronze in the freestyle sprint—and became the first American since 1976 to win an individual Olympic medal.
He is known for his detailed training planning and oversight, as well as his world-class ski selection and waxing ability.
Freeski - Dave Euler, Park City, Utah
Dave Euler, who coaches the U.S. Pro Freeski Slopestyle and Big Air Team, was named Freeski Coach of the Year. Euler was previously the 2019 recipient and in 2016 was named Freeski Development Coach of the Year.
Euler led the U.S. Freeski Slopestyle and Big Air Team to great success this season starting off with a podium sweep by Colby Stevenson, Alex Hall and Nick Goepper at Dew Tour. At the 2022 Beijing Olympics, Alex Hall won gold and Nick Goepper earned silver in slopestyle, and Colby Stevenson earned silver in big air. At the conclusion of the season, the team was awarded the FIS Nations Cup.
Euler is well known and admired for his positive attitude, dedication to the sport, and ability to motivate, inspire and develop athletes at all levels. He joined the team in 2018 after coaching freeskiing at Team Park City United.
Freestyle - Vladimir ‘Vlad’ Lebedev, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Vladimir ‘Vlad’ Lebedev, head aerials coach for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, was named Freestyle Coach of the Year for the third year in a row. Lebedev joined the team in 2019 and has been a valuable asset with his extensive knowledge of the sport, background as an athlete and international coaching experience for multiple countries.
It was a strong season for the U.S. aerials team, capped by Olympic gold in the debut of the team event with Chris Lillis, Justin Schoenefeld and Ashley Caldwell, and a bronze from Megan Nick in the women's individual event. In addition to the team's Olympic success, five U.S. Freestyle Team aerialists finished in the top-10 in the season-long FIS World Cup rankings.
Lebedev’s approach as a coach is dedicated to helping each athlete succeed, as shown by the individualized plans and strategies he develops for each team member matched up with seasonal, monthly and daily goals. In his three seasons as head aerials coach, he has led the team to its strongest results in 20 years.
He is a native of Uzbekistan and competed as a Russian aerialist for a decade, winning bronze at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping - Chris Gilbertson, Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Chris Gilbertson, jumping coach for the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, was named Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping Coach of the Year.
Gilbertson, who had coached up to 2013, returned to the United States in the summer of 2020 when the nordic combined team was challenged to get international coaches into the USA because of the pandemic onset. The team heartily welcomed him back. In the two years since his return, he has been consistently supporting, challenging and motivating athletes.
The impact of his work has been a substantial climb up the ranks in ski jumping results compared to the past. His passion for the sport of nordic combined has been embraced by the athletes, with the results showing.
Gilbertson was named Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping Development Coach of the Year in 2001 while working with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
Snowboard - J.J. Thomas
JJ Thomas, Olympic bronze medalist in halfpipe from 2002 and U.S. Snowboard Team halfpipe coach, was recognized with the Snowboard Coach of the Year award.
While Thomas made his mark as an athlete, his real impact has come since moving to coaching. As a private coach for Shaun White, he was instrumental in White’s stunning comeback in 2018 to win his third Olympic gold medal. He then brought his skills to the U.S. Snowboard Team where he has impacted a wide range of athletes.
This past season his athletes had a remarkable season, led by Chloe Kim winning a repeat Olympic halfpipe gold. His men’s team placed three in the top seven in Beijing, including White just missing a medal in fourth.
Thomas’ approach to coaching features a focus on detail with goal orientation. His work with athletes on both short and long-term goals, combined with a strategic plan of attack, has helped make their personal dreams become a reality.
SPORT DEVELOPMENT COACHES OF THE YEAR
Alpine - Ian Dunlop, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, Vail, Colo.
Ian Dunlop, the head U16 men’s coach at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, was recognized as Alpine Development Coach of the Year. He was recognized not only for the success of his own athletes, but for his overall contribution to development within the region and nationally.
Dunlop began as a ski racer in Wisconsin, before moving to Winter Park, Colo. He later skied for the University of Denver. Dunlop began his coaching career at Winter Park coaching FIS-level athletes before joining U.S. Ski & Snowboard as the Rocky/Central regional coach in 2013, contributing to the growth of excellence in the region.
In 2019, he took on his current role in Vail making an immediate impact with his U16 athletes posting strong results and moving on to be successful at the FIS level. This past season his U16 men dominated national junior championships with podium finishes across all disciplines, including four of the top five overall. Although top national results get the headlines, Dunlop is known for building an atmosphere where every single athlete on his team feels 100% committed to the team.
Dunlop is a strong contributor to the governance of the sport, serving as vice-chair of the Rocky Mountain Division Alpine Competition Committee and sits on the national U16 and Older Development Working Group.
Cross Country - Miles Havlick, University of Utah, Salt Lake City
Miles Havlick, cross country coach for the University of Utah, was awarded the Cross Country Development Coach of the Year Award. He was recognized not only for the success of the Utes cross country athletes who won a 15th national title this past year, but for the impact he and his athletes are having on sport development.
This past season, his Utah cross country team included five U.S. Ski Team members, three of which competed at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. Four of those athletes raced in World Cups and the fifth competed at the U23 World Championships.
Two of his athletes, Sophia Laukli and Novie McCabe, were top-20 in their debut Olympics. Both also took NCAA titles to help boost the Utes to the national title. They also finished fifth and seventh in the Tour de Ski final hill climb. In addition, Sydney Palmer-Leger is ranked as the number one junior woman in the world on the FIS distance points list.
Havlick was recognized for the positive team culture he has developed to not only benefit the Utes, but to be a collaborative partner with the national team.
Freeski - Greg Ruppel, Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club, Aspen, Colo.
Greg Ruppel, who heads the freeski program at the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club, was awarded the Freeski Development Coach of the Year Award. Ruppel, who has been coaching for nearly 20 years, was acknowledged for his all-around work in coaching and program management at AVSC and his engagement with the Freeski Sport Committee.
Ruppel began his freeski coaching career in New England, working at Loon Mountain and Waterville Valley before moving to Aspen where he has coached for a decade. He has put a high priority on advancing his coaching through education, attending over a dozen U.S. Ski & Snowboard clinics and achieving Freestyle Level 4 and Freeski Level 300 certifications.
During his career at Aspen, Greg has coached several top-10 junior halfpipe skiers, and his athletes have earned spots on not only the U.S. Pro and Rookie Freeski Teams, but also the U.S. Olympic Freeski team.
Freestyle - Bill Harris, Mont Chalet Freestyle Aerial Training Center, Chesterland, Ohio
Bill Harris, an innovator in freestyle aerials skiing for over four decades, was named Freestyle Development Coach of the Year. While most wouldn’t look at the state of Ohio as a hotbed of freestyle skiing, Harris’ work over the years has helped develop a host of Olympians including 2022 team gold medalist Justin Schoenefeld.
Now 78, Harris started his first freestyle program at a small midwestern ski area in 1983. When he left the ski area in the early ‘90s, he wanted to ensure athletes still had a place to pursue their sport. So he built a water ramp on his own property outside of Cleveland. That started a succession of Olympians including Brian Currutt, Mariano Ferrario and Schoenefeld.
Harris was recognized not just for the top athletes that came out of his program, but for his constant work at providing opportunities for young athletes. He runs his program free of charge and has always been the type of coach who goes the extra mile for his athletes.
“Bill’s genuine love for the sport of freestyle skiing and his honest care in coaching and developing our talents was what made my experience with the team so memorable,” said one of his former athletes.
While perfecting their craft is always a goal of athletes, Harris’ focus goes well beyond, looking to develop well-rounded, respectful, humble, confident and hard-working individuals.
Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping - Todd Eing, Harris Hill, Brattleboro, Vt.
Vermont ski jumping coach and program leader Todd Eing was awarded the Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping Development Coach of the Year Award. Eing has been instrumental in developing a junior ski jumping program at Harris Hill, which just celebrated its 100th year of holding an annual tournament.
While Harris Hill has long been a major ski jumping center in New England, it had lacked a junior jumping program. Eing has been transformational for the sport, spearheading the construction of 10m and 18m jumps at Memorial Park and organizing training for young jumpers from five to 15 years old beginning in 2018.
Eing has built a comprehensive program that includes fall training in the gym and on a roller jump to prepare athletes for the season. He wears many hats for the program, including coach as well as chief of competition for the annual Harris Hill tournament. He also volunteers for major events around the region, including Lake Placid.