Mountain Life Podcast with Mountain Luxury's Brandi Hammon - Ogden Valley Ski Team
Next time an eight-year-old charges past you on one of Snowbasin’s Black Diamond runs, it’s likely they’re wearing an Ogden Valley Ski Team jacket. Gordon Perry, Executive Director, along with OVST president Jeff Barber, and team are committed to training the next generation of ski racers and freeride specialists. Mountain Luxury’s Brandi Hammon and Brandon Long sat down with Gordon and Jeff to kick off a new Mountain Life podcast series of interviews with those who help shape and influence the beautiful mountain towns in which we choose to reside.
Ogden Valley has a long history of ski racing and Gordon intends to revive the quality and quantity of youth racers in the area. In cooperation with Snowbasin Resort, OVST now offers an All Stars program. Kids ages 7-12 benefit from a 14-week professional coaching program, an all-area season pass to Snowbasin, OVST Membership, and a an official Snowbasin ski team jacket all for only $949.
I call it coaching. It’s different than a ski school. It’s the same coach every time, same group of kids, and it’s a full mountain experience including timed races. Racing can be intimidating for a young child, and this (program) is set up locally so that there’s not hundreds of kids, just the kids they normally ski with. But, they get to ski in a timed racing environment to give them that kind of exposure which is not something they would ever have an opportunity to do in a ‘ski school.’
That was one of the things I wanted to do differently, was to bring the young kids back to their local (resort), and their families are here, and they’re young, so there’s no reason to go to races in Park City and Snowbird when they’re under 10-year’s-old.
With skiing ever growing in popularity, and more young skiers expanding their repertoire in Parks and Pipes, Jeff made the following observation during his son’s school day on the mountain.
...clearly a difference in skier quality between the ski team kids and what they call the park rats. As they get off into other parts of the mountain and they went up higher and experienced different terrain, those kids (park rats) struggled. The park kids are not generally really good skiers. They can do well in the park. They can jump off stuff, but as I saw the ski team kids, they could ski the whole mountain very efficiently and you could really tell the difference. So, I think now with the All-Star program kicking in at Snowbasin, young kids are going to develop into better fundamental all-around skiers. Then, as they go off into other specialties or interests, they’re going to take those fundamentals with them.
Brandi Hammon who has a child in the All Stars program added the following:
I love the All Star Program. I think it’s this perfect meeting of ski town and these parents who really think skiing is important and they want to give that gift to their kids, because as an adult, it’s not a joy (to learn to ski).
A strong youth ski team leads to a stronger all-around ski community providing an improved economic impact to local business. Jeff expanded on how a vigorous ski program impacts the community:
We have embarked on a community partnership program. We will partner, work with, and select businesses or other entities in the area that understand the importance of having a strong ski program like we offer embedded into the community. We have a great venue and a great relationship with Snowbasin. [The difference between] the highest level of ski teams like Vail, Squaw Valley, and maybe Park City, is that OVST is nearly all internally funded by members or our own funding efforts.
Ogden Valley Winter Ski Team All Stars Hanging with Santa! Image via Ogden Valley Winter Sports Foundation Facebook Page
Ogden Valley is poised to offer one of the most productive ski teams in the nation based off the quality and experience of coaches, the current track of existing student racers, and the future talent yet to enter the program. Jeff acknowledged:
Numerically, we have a bigger pool of athletes to draw from than a lot of these ski towns that have more notoriety because they’re smaller. They just have invested more in their program.
Potential is limitless. With more community engrained support and once the community is better educated and they understand what’s good for the ski team is good for them (as a community) especially a lot of specific businesses who benefit on a one-to-one basis, so when that happens, everything Gordon has been working on for the last 5 years just basically explodes (in a good way, of course).
Ogden Valley Winter Sports Foundation / Ogden Valley Ski Team