The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation recently earned two prestigious awards from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA), the national governing body of winter sports, according to a SVSEF Web site report.
For the second time since 1999, the SVSEF was named USSA “Club of the Year.” Also, under the guidance of head coach and program director Andy Gilbert, the SVSEF garnered the honor of 2013 USSA “Snowboarding Club of the Year.”
According to Bill Marolt, USSA president and CEO, the Gold Awards represent the single highest honors in the organization. The award recipients, whether they are athletes, volunteers, coaches, programs or clubs—represent the vision, mission and core values of the USSA, he added.
Former SVSEF executive director Don Wiseman said, “I think the award is a verification of all the hard work by the coaches and community to revise and revamp the SVSEF to make it into one of the best clubs in the nation.”
The awards will be presented to SVSEF representatives during the 2013 USSA Congress at the Chairman’s Awards Dinner, May 17 at the Park City (Utah) Marriott.
Marolt expanded on why the SVSEF was picked for “Club of the Year”:
He said, “The snowboard program spans the gamut from new riders to the sport, to those who have stood on podiums around the world like Kaitlyn Farrington and Chase Josey. Ryan Roemer qualified for Junior Worlds in snowboardcross, highlighting a full spectrum of competitive programs you offer.
“Your alpine program is one of the top performing programs in the nation with multiple top-10 finishers at U-18 and U-14 championship events.
“SVSEF's alpine coaching staff is fully vested in professional development, attending coaching clinics and academies on a regular basis to ensure that proper skills are being taught and developed.
“Sun Valley freestyle shines in its large and high-quality development programs, and in its support of elite team athletes like Shane Cordeau. You consistently host high-quality regional events that make a difference in a development pipeline.
“The cross country program is nationally recognized and Rick Kapala's leadership has given athletes like Simi Hamilton opportunities that result in his being named to the national team.”
Part of the SVSEF coaching staff since 1993 and snowboard program director since 2000, Gilbert has trained and cultivated snowboarders who went on to compete in Olympic, World Cup and X-Game events, including Graham Watanabe, Kaitlyn Farrington, and most recently Chase Josey.
“Honestly, I would say we are very honored to get this recognition. It is nice to be counted among your peers and be recognized in this way," Gilbert said. "This type of recognition says a lot about the staff we have including Jon French, Jacob Tyler, Josh Keefer, Heather Black, Edward Sawicz, Jim Slanetz and JaNessa Gilbert. You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with and this is an award we all share.”
With snowboarding garnering the program award, the SVSEF now boasts four program awards from USSA. Kapala’s cross country program collected the accolade three times, most recently in 2009.
Marolt also commented on the tenure of Wiseman, whose executive director tenure officially ends in July.
"Finally, 2012-2013 marks the final year for Don Wiseman as executive director,” he said. “Over the past 11 years, Don has cultivated a strong team of program directors. He has seen the integration of the Sun Valley Ski Academy to offer an established college-preparatory academic program catering to promising athletes, and the creation of SVSEF Gold Team—a program to provide the necessary financial and training support for its athletes to compete and succeed in international competitions.
‘The SVSEF is an outstanding organization and (it is) a well-deserved honor.”