This was originally published by Austin Colbert in the Aspen Times.
It only made sense that Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s Eric Knight, the longtime program director for the freestyle and freeride programs, was front and center when it came to cutting the ribbon.
The idea of the new training center began 11 years ago, and after years of heartache, it finally became real Thursday during AVSC’s open house — the kickoff to its 80th year in Aspen — with the unveiling of the new Hildebrand Training Center.
“It meant 11 years of dreaming and continuous setbacks and letdowns all coming full circle to seeing that dream a reality of today,” Knight said. “We put together a series of facilities that complement each other and are to be used together. We basically have the two trampolines where the kids will kind of learn the maneuvers and the progressions.”
While the main AVSC headquarters also underwent somewhat of a remodel, the open house was centered on the new training center, which includes an airbag ramp alongside the main AVSC building to be used to perfect aerial maneuvers year-round.
It took years of concepts, fundraising and permit acquisition to make it a reality.
“Within a couple of weeks, the athletes and the coaches are going to be saying, ‘How did we ever train without these things?’ So that’s pretty satisfying,” said former AVSC Executive Director Mark Cole, who stepped down in March after 15 years of leading the club. “When we had to pull the plug on this last August and not start last fall, I was convinced we would get it done. And Eric lost faith. As he expressed, he had serious moments of doubt.”
Cole, who oversaw much of the project from start to finish, helped Knight cut the ribbon Thursday, with new AVSC Executive Director Mark Godomsky not far behind.
“I got the last third of the project when decisions had been made,” Godomsky said with a small chuckle. “It was just a matter of overseeing the financial side to make sure we got to the end in time for the open house.”
Godomsky — a native of Maine — knowingly steps into the role in what is expected to be an exciting ski season in Aspen, with the AVSC celebrating a milestone year and the FIS World Cup ski finals coming to town.
But it’s also a role he feels will mostly be about maintaining and not improving.
“The community is unbelievably into this,” Godomsky said of AVSC. “There is nothing broke here. This is a great club and the program directors do a wonderful job. The theme this year is going back to basics and making sure we are taking care of kids.”
The highlight of the AVSC winter season will be the annual Audi Ajax Cup on Aspen Mountain, scheduled for Dec. 30.