Clubhouse Chronicles: Marching Forward
This article was originally published by Mark Godomsky in the Aspen Times as part of our column, Clubhouse Chronicles.
March is always a big month for us at Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. Just when we’re getting into the swing of things with our winter schedule, suddenly championship season is upon us, recreational groups are celebrating an awesome season of growth and plans for an action-packed summer are in place.
With the collective “one-year-ago” COVID-19 milestones of this month — from the first confirmed case in Colorado to the Governor’s orders to shut down mountain operations to the community support and response — it is hard not to reflect on where we were a year ago and how grateful I am for where we are today as a club.
One year ago, on March 13, we shut down the Clubhouse. Soon after, we shut down on-snow programs. As with the rest of the world, we shifted operations online. We did not know at that time if we would be able to host summer programs, but we made tentative plans … and tentative contingency plans to amend those plans as needed.
After a successful summer full of mountain biking, trail running, hiking, lifting, trampoline bouncing and more, we approached winter with the same tentative hopefulness. Could we run programs for 2,400 kids? Could we host the Audi Ajax Cup, the fundraiser that makes it possible for us to offer the opportunities that we provide to local kids? Could we host — and even travel to — competitions?
Regardless of what we could do, what would public health professionals recommend as best practices, and what would families feel safe having athletes participate in?
One year later, we are proud of all that we have accomplished. We are wrapping up an awesome winter with Aspen Supports Kids programs on all four mountains, which have met not only on Saturdays and Sundays this season, but during the week as well. Bill Koch Youth Ski League enrollment was the highest it’s ever been in Aspen and Carbondale. We have athletes on the road — racing at U14 championships in Vail and Western Youth Championships in Jackson, boosting out of the halfpipe at the Rev Tour in Copper — and competing here at home with Snowboard and Freeski World Championships at Buttermilk and, soon, Alpine U.S. Nationals at the Stapleton Training Center.
We had an incredible Audi Ajax Cup in December, where AVSC supporters showed up for us and raced their hearts out, even though they weren’t awarded with the usual post-race celebration. The growth at every level has been amazing: athletes have conquered their first turns, experienced their first Highland Bowl hikes, earned spots in World Cups, and committed to competing on college teams.
My “one-year-ago” reflection is filled with gratitude that this year, as we open registration for summer camps and plan for the following seasons, we’re filled with confidence in what we’ll be able to accomplish in the future. Not necessarily in terms of concrete plans or a structured schedule, but rather the ability to move forward knowing that we have a community of passionate athletes, families, staff, and community members that will do whatever they can to provide the best opportunities possible for our youth within the current circumstances.
One thing we’ve been reminded of this year is that, 84 years later, the power of volunteerism, ingenuity and love of sport continues to drive Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. An athletic mindset has helped us all be agile and adapt to the challenges this year has presented. Thank you to our athletes, our families, our staff, our donors, our partners and our community for making it happen.
As we move toward warmer weather, we are excited to continue growing, learning and challenging ourselves. We know this year has been a difficult one for our community and for our youth. Our summer camps start at age 7; if you know a child who would benefit from time outside with mentors and peers, developing athleticism and healthy habits, send them our way!