For the first time in his 15 years as the director of the Sun Valley Freestyle Team, John Zuck will not be the head coach of the program run through the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.
Instead, Zuck has turned to concentrating on the program as a whole, leaving the on-snow training and head coaching to Andy Ware, former Sun Valley assistant coach.
"We were looking for growth in the program and by putting Andy in charge of the day-to-day, it's letting me do other things," Zuck said.
With freeskiing gaining popularity with every passing minute, Zuck is looking to catch up with the times and eventually split the freestyle program into two independent teams—the Freestyle Team (moguls) and a Freeride Team that will concentrate on competition in the halfpipe, big air, and skiercross disciplines.
While discipline may not seem a quality well suited to the free-wheeling, baggy-panted freeriding youth going big on the Roundhouse mogul course, Zuck knows better.
Freeskiing is no longer the simple act of skiing without guidelines. Freeskiing, or freeriding, is growing as a sport and a culture unto itself.
Borrowing heavily from the seminal styles, techniques and cultural trends of snowboarding, freeskiing is truly a wave of the future.
"We have kids who aren't that interested in moguls, who just want to freeride," says Zuck.
Sun Valley is trailing other resorts in giving these young athletes the terrain they need to train.
Though the freeride team is little more than a plan at the moment, the freestyle team is actively growing.
Erin Resko, a former Sun Valley Freestyle Team skier has returned from college in Boulder, Colo. and will coach alongside her former coaches.
For Zuck, Resko is a welcome addition. "We are very excited to have her with us; she brings a woman's touch to the team and she has some great competitive experience," he says.
In fact, the last time Resko competed for Sun Valley, she took second in the dual moguls at Nationals.
The team is looking to continue with another strong year in 2004-05.
Seniors Corey Warren and Collin Collins have been lost to college. But with young talent from Karl Fostvedt, Ross Falcone, Britt VanPaepeghem and Kurtis Fieguth among countless others, the team looks strong.
Falcone was training in Maine last winter at the Carrabassett Valley Academy (Bode Miller's alma mater) and has returned with a greatly expanded repertoire of aerial tricks. "He's has some pretty amazing air stuff going on so I'm excited to see him get out there," said Zuck.
Leading up to the first freestyle event of 2005—a moguls, dual moguls, and halfpipe weekend at Snowbird, Utah—the Sun Valley team is continuing its training regimen on Roundhouse and is spending as much time in the still-new halfpipe as possible.
The first and only home event of the year will be held on Baldy's Roundhouse Slope Jan 15-16.
2004-05 Sun Valley Freestyle Roster
SUN VALLEY FREESTYLE TEAM
·Freestyle team director—John Zuck (15th year).
· Coaches, staff—Andy Ware, head coach. Tom Kennedy, full-time coach; Justin Peterson and Erin Resko part-time team coaches.
· Freestyle full-time team—Reed Boeger, Austin Bourret, Sam Colesworthy, McKenna Collins, Alexander Conn, Cameron Conn, Ross Falcone, Kurtis Fieguth, Katie Fieguth, Karl Fostvedt, Connor McNamara, Austin Moses, North Parker, Lauren Phillips, Aunika Phillips, Kali Phillips, McClain Porter, Sophia Schwartz, Britt VanPaepeghem, Jeremy Lato. (Tuition $1,660, including on-snow sessions Tuesday through Sunday and dryland training starting in October, at least one on snow summer camp, and water ramp training at Utah Olympic park).
· Freestyle part-time team—Camille Bourret, Trevor Brand, Sierra Brand, Christopher Clark, Zana Davey, Bryce Ervin, Chloe Gordon, Austin Grill, Alexandra Haupt, Hannah Haupt, Collin Johnson, Jake Kaiser, Jacqueline King, Bailey Malarkey, Nathan Moses, Kroger Schwartz, Alex Strandberg, Adam Vorsteveld, Luke Poster, Anita Vorsteveld, Cody Swenke, Parker Page, Trace Page, Hannah Thacker, Trace Page, Hampton King, Lucas Vorsteveld. (Tuition $600, non-travel team with on-snow training on weekends, Wednesdays and on holidays).