Last Thursday at the annual USSA Chairman’s Awards Dinner at USSA Congress in Park City, Utah, USSA presented Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC) with alpine, snowboard, jumping and Nordic combined, as well as overall Club of the Year honors.
After being officially announced by USSA earlier this month, the community of Steamboat welcomed its fourth overall Club of the Year award while celebrating its first in alpine, honors that reflect the time and resources the club invested in its world-class staff and training facilities at Steamboat Mountain and the legendary Howelsen Hill. The SSWSC received the very first USSA Club of the Year award in 1998 and most recently received the honor in 2007.
“We weren’t shooting for it at all really this year,” says SSWSC Athletic Director Jon Nolting. “We’re honored by it; it happens in the course of trying to do what we’re trying to achieve with our programs. It was our first year with Adam Chadbourne as our alpine program director, and he did a hell of a job.”
“We are humbled and honored to receive these awards from the USSA,” adds SSWSC Executive Director Jim Boyne. “They are a testament to the terrific work that our team has accomplished and their commitment and passion to helping our athletes achieve their goals. Our staff, volunteer coaches, athletes, parents, community supporters and venue partners can all be proud of our collective success.”
The SSWSC is a non-profit 501(C) 3 organization that provides sports and youth development programming for approximately 1,000 athletes every year in alpine, Nordic, freestyle, freeskiing, Nordic combined, special jumping, telemark, snowboard freestyle, and alpine snowboarding as well as strength and conditioning, cycling, and skateboarding programs.
Serving tens of thousands of athletes for more than a century, SSWSC is one of the oldest and most successful winter sports clubs in North America. SSWSC has trained 88 Olympians, with 151 Winter Olympic appearances in 19 Winter Games representing 12 countries. They also boast eight Olympians currently on staff.
Central to the success of the club is the sense of community and winter sports culture that is so apparent in the town of Steamboat. It is not uncommon for hundreds of spectators to show up to local competitions and endure adverse weather just to cheer on their local athletes.
“Before I was at Steamboat, I raced and I coached and I led the program at Winter Park just down the highway and I was always jealous of the culture in Steamboat,” admits Nolting. “You talk about celebrating achievement in skiing and snowboarding and everybody will rally around you, it’s just what everybody is into. The lodge has the Olympic flags for the 151 different Olympic performances that have come through Steamboat, so it’s pretty much all around you.”
Nolting also reflects on the importance of SSWSC earning its first-ever alpine club of the year honors the year that the iconic Steamboat Holiday Classic slalom races were named after the late Murphy Roberts, younger brother of current American World Cup skier Hig Roberts and a Steamboat local.
“It’s cool to think about this award, the first ever for alpine, coming in the year that the Holiday Classic was named in honor of Murphy,” says Nolting. “That event, the magic of the night race, is probably the thing that is the most special for anybody that has never been to Steamboat. When you get to Howelsen at night, under the lights in the middle of town, that environment is magical.”
It is no small feat to win one USSA Club of the Year honor, much less nearly sweep every category with four wins like SSWSC managed to accomplish this past season. Then again, would you expect anything less from a place where the official motto is Ski Town, USA?