This column was originally published in the Aspen Times.
With strength and conditioning having started just after the Fourth of July holiday for our year-round athletes, things are in full swing at Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. Many of our athletes have already spent a portion of the summer on snow, crucial training time to return to the basics of their sport and create a strong foundation from which to progress as they move toward competition season.
This year, our female athletes were incredibly fortunate to have financial support in their summer skiing pursuits through the Nancy Oakes Hall Scholarship, a scholarship created to support female athletes at AVSC who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled in a team-level program.
Nancy grew up in Aspen, where she ski raced and eventually coached for Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. She was well known for her athleticism, kindness and generosity. Nancy’s longtime friend, Lorna Petersen, shared, “Nancy’s passion for skiing and her ability to share her love of the sport was immediately obvious to all.
She was poetry in motion … she inspired many of us, and she always gave her time to help others grow professionally, athletically and personally.” AVSC has a Nancy Oakes Hall Scholarship that is awarded to a female athlete each fall to alleviate the financial burdens of training and competing at a high level. Recognizing the importance of summer opportunities to the success of winter athletes, the custodians of the Nancy Oakes Hall Memorial Fund granted AVSC an additional $25,000 this spring to award to female athletes and staff to help them progress in their sport over the summer.
This summer, 24 scholarships were awarded, ranging from covering the camp cost for two Alpine ski racers; to travel to Norway; to seven Nordic skiers to head to a ski and conditioning camp in Bend, Oregon; to two coaches getting professional certifications. Lorna, who is also a custodian of the Memorial Fund, shared, “recipients are chosen with Nancy’s spirit in mind; that they are inspirational and gracious community members with a fervent passion for skiing.”
Gill Hearn, AVSC Alpine coach, was awarded a scholarship to travel to Mammoth Mountain in the spring to earn her USSA Level 300 Certification, and also saw the impact on two of her athletes who were able to join AVSC’s Norway camp as a result of their scholarships. Gill explained, “We are so lucky to have an opportunity like this. It opens so many doors for the girls — it allowed some of the fastest girls in the club to get unparalleled on-snow summer training in an amazing place. While in Norway, we skied 11 days on a perfect training hill, starting with fundamentals and progressing into full length timed training. This will have a huge impact on their competitive season. Beyond the skiing, they gained a lot from the cultural aspect of the trip.”
Nancy was known to say “best day ever” after a day of skiing. We are grateful to Nancy and her family and friends for enabling many more best days ever for the female athletes and coaches of AVSC and know that these opportunities will take them far, both personally and athletically. We are honored to continue Nancy’s legacy on skis.