The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation has 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.”
In another major announcement, the SVSEF on April 26 revealed the hiring of former U.S. Ski Team member and Olympian Dane Spencer of Boise as the head coach of the Alpine Gold Team.
Here is a report of the latest news, condensed from separate announcements written by SVSEF communications director Jody Zarkos:
Awards from USSA
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.
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 said, ‘The SVSEF is an outstanding organization and (it is) a well-deserved honor.”
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.
With snowboarding garnering the program award, the SVSEF now boasts four program awards from USSA. Rick Kapala’s cross country program collected the accolade three times, most recently in 2009.
Dane Spencer joins the SVSEF
New SVSEF executive director Rob Clayton, who knows Dane Spencer from Clayton’s days as a U.S. Ski Team coach, said, “Dane brings a wealth of experience as both a World Cup competitor and coach. It is great to have someone fresh off the World Cup circuit. He has been on the cutting edge of equipment, technique and venue preparation.”
Spencer, 36, was named to the USST in 1996 and competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics in giant slalom. He made 66 World Cup starts with 13 top-20 finishes and competed in five World Championships. He just missed qualifying for the 2006 Winter Olympics after being seriously injured in a downhill race at Big Mountain, Mt.
He and his partner of 13 years, Jasmine Furnish, welcomed a daughter, Dylan, in 2012, which was a major reason Spencer decided to retire as a competitor from the U.S. Ski Team. He spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the men’s World Cup team before his recent hiring by SVSEF.
Currently, the SVSEF Alpine Gold Team consists of Tanner Farrow, KJ Savaria and Kipling Weisel. Spencer said he will attend a regional camp with Weisel and Savaria next month and will participate in the team’s annual on-snow camp at Mammoth Mountain, Ca. in June. Spencer said he will also work with younger SVSEF alpine ski racers.
SVSEF Alpine Director Ruben Macaya said, “I think it is fantastic to have Dane Spencer on our staff.”
Added Spencer about his new assignment, “I have lived in a lot of places but none of them were ski towns. I am pretty excited to do that and experience (Ketchum) on more of a day-in, day-out basis. I’ve always loved coming to Sun Valley and all the outdoor activities.”