Once again, the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation's Cross Country Ski Team has proved not only to be the best in the West, but in the United States as well.
For the third time in 10 years, the United States Ski Association has named the program as Club of the Year. It is the third time since 1999 the SVSEF program, with director Rick Kapala, has topped the selection from the pool of national junior programs.
Kapala, the program's director since 1987, said he is proud to receive the honor.
"It's great and a reflection on all our programs," he said. "From top to bottom, the foundation is doing a really great job."
Highlights of the 2008-09 racing season include winning the USSA Junior National Team competition in Truckee, Calif., where 17 skiers represented the SVSEF (more qualifiers than any other team in the nation); Morgan Arritola being named to the 2009 World Championship Team; and Alexa Turzian finishing second at the NCAA Championships.
Other notable accomplishments include: three athletes named to U.S. World Junior Championship Teams (Arritola, Turzian, Noah Hoffman), six athletes competing in World Cup events (Arritola, Reid Pletcher, Mike Sinnott, Nicole Deyong, Colin Rodgers, Hoffman), and Max Durtschi qualifying for the Scandinavian Cup.
Junior and senior racers also achieved numerous podiums throughout the season to culminate in the ultimate club achievement.
USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt wrote in a letter to Don Wiseman, SVSEF executive director, "You should be extremely proud of your accomplishments and the leadership exhibited in receiving this award for the third time in a decade."
The letter further stated, "The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation has established, on their own initiative, a comprehensive pipeline program from young children's introduction to snow sports through Olympic development in the four disciplines of freestyle, snowboarding, alpine, adaptive and nordic/cross-country. Besides engaging hundreds of kids in snow sports in the small Wood River Valley in Idaho, their athletes have reached the following in the 2009 season:
Freestyle—Athletes on the World Cup circuit in Europe and placed on the U.S. Ski Team.
Snowboard—Athletes with World Cup victories and National Championship Titles, athletes named to the U.S. Snowboard Team, the World Junior Championships and X-Games.
Alpine—Athletes on the FIS Circuit, in the National Championships and Nor-Ams. The program also embraced Olympian Dane Spencer in his comeback bid from severe injury.
Cross Country—Athletes in the World Championship, World U23 Championship, and World Jr. Championships. Several athletes on the U.S. Ski Team. Six athletes from this club program qualified for World Cup competition this season.
Adaptive—Athletes from the Sun Valley program are currently represented on the U.S. Ski Team."
"I think the award is indicative that we are good," Kapala said. "I think it is a lot easier to have an effective youth athletic program when the community is so supportive. We are very fortunate in that regard."