Looking for something different for kids to do this fall and winter? Why not consider joining the Hidden Valley Ski Team? Despite high temperatures of St. Louis summers, it’s not too soon to think about winter sports, because conditioning and training often takes place right when schools start new fall sessions.
The team, based at in Wildwood, begins dryland training just after Labor Day, all in preparation for racing on the slopes when the resort opens for business in December.
Head Coach Dave Coulter said they start early with weekly conditioning and strengthening activities to make sure the team is ready to race on snow. "We do that in a variety of ways, either working on dryland drills directly on Hidden Valley slopes, or on roller blades in local areas.”
With 12 coaches—many of them with racing experience—and a current roster of more than 60 kids ranging in ages from 5 to 18 years, the Hidden Valley Ski Team offers multiple opportunities to get kids involved in a fast-paced, winter athletic sport. While many people think that a smaller ski resort, such as Hidden Valley, will not generate top athletes, team members are quick to point out that it’s not the size of the hill that matters; it’s the dedication by each athlete.
“We’ve had athletes qualify for the USSA Rocky Mountain/Central Junior Olympics in Colorado each spring for 11 straight years,” said Coulter.
“This year, we finished eighth out of 101 teams represented at the NASTAR Championship races held in Winter Park, CO, in March. We had 23 skiers compete in the championships, and we brought home eight gold, five silver, and three bronze medals. Those results put us ahead of some of the more prominent ski resort areas, such as Beaver Creek, Keystone, and Breckenridge.”
Hidden Valley Ski Team Go-Getters
Crowned the overall 2011 National NASTAR Champion was 14-year-old Abigail Murer, of Wildwood. Her victory enabled her to train with other elite athletes on the U.S. Ski Team. Earlier this summer, she traveled to Park City, UT, to train at the U.S. Ski Team Center of Excellence facility.
Murer also trained with Trevor Wagner, the U.S. Ski Team’s head coach for women’s slalom and giant slalom in Whistler, Canada, earlier this month. In September, she heads to Santiago, Chile, for more training.
“I hope to further increase my skiing abilities with more time on snow and to learn from the Olympic athletes and coaches,” said Murer. “My future goals are to consistently place in the top 10 in races next season, and to do well at the Junior Olympics. My biggest goal is to go to the 2018 Winter Olympics.”
A 13-year-old from Wildwood, Courtney Palm, finished fourth in the NASTAR Race of Champions, just .38 seconds behind the third-place finisher. Palm was the first Hidden Valley member to make it to the J3 National Championship in Aspen. The championship is an invitation-only, weeklong competition, pitting the best racers from the USSA Rocky Mountain/Central Division against each other.
“Making it to the national championships was a major goal of mine,” said Palm. “It was made possible by the Hidden Valley Ski Team. With the help of my coaches, friends, and family, I was able to reach my goals, and grow as a skier and as a person. The ski team has been an awesome experience for me.”
Brett Borgard, of Town and Country, MO, founded the Hidden Valley Ski Team. “Since starting the team 20 years ago, we have coached over 300 racers with eight Junior Olympians, and some racers going on to race on college teams and FIS International races. I am very proud of the team of coaches, kids, and parents we have that support Hidden Valley Ski Team. I also enjoy seeing kids grow up on the team from a young age to develop into responsible, respectful teenagers preparing for college,” he said.
Children who join the ski team receive training on skiing technique and alpine racing. Team membership is divided into three different levels: introductory, development, and travel.
The introductory team is designed for new and younger members that train only on Saturday. Development team members train an additional day (usually Tuesday evening) but may or may not travel to races. The travel team trains three days or more and competes at other resorts. Competition can be in regional junior race programs or in U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA)-sanctioned races, considered to be the conduit to the U.S. Ski team. Additional optional training days at Hidden Valley are added throughout the season for interested travel team members.
Membership costs are tiered to the level of involvement. All members also must obtain a USSA membership.
Anyone interested in learning more about the Hidden Valley Ski Team can visit its website.
Editor's Note: Stephanie Stemmler is a freelance writer and public relations specialist who also is a parent of one of the Hidden Valley Ski Team members.