Junior Race Series
It's been a winding road to this point - the plan
was not originally to start a race team. Here's how it evolved:
- In 1999-2000 Shep Snow decided to get a USSA alpine coaches
license so his two children could race as "Independents" without joining a
structured race program. As time passed they enjoyed some pretty significant
success there were some misunderstandings from other parents, but there was
also a great deal of interest from local kids. Most kids in Bonner County can
hardly afford a season pass, let alone membership on a USSA race club.
- The same year Shep hosted a Christmas ski camp for local
kids. His children were the only two with substantial ski experience. Some of
the others had never skied -- some were plucked straight off the soccer field
based upon their athleticism and attitude. None had ever raced. We skied
together informally the entire season with our focus on trees, powder and
occasional NASTAR runs. One of our racers finished ranked #1 for his age group
- In September 2000 Shep and his friend, Reidar Wahl (former World Pro
Champion) co-hosted our first Mt Hood race camp for local children. The race
camp was likewise non-profit. The kids did car washes and picked huckleberries
all summer to fund the camp. We stayed at a campground and cooked over the fire
to further reduce the cost, which averaged $362 per child! The cost included
one rapid gate purchased by each child. Shep purchased a drill and some hero
- During the 2000-2001 season we became more active, training as a group one
day per weekend and racing NASTAR regularly. We never set gates - just free
skied and worked on body position. All "team" members joined USSA and raced in a
few events. We dominated J6/J5 racing locally against clubs 10 times our size.
We also sent two racers to NASTAR nationals and took 1st for 7-8 year old boys
and 3rd for 9-10 year old girls. Shep and Reidar Wahl ran our second annual race
camp at Mt Hood in June 2001. During the summer Schweitzer Resort management
advised us we couldn't ski together unless we obtained a $2 mil insurance
policy... we looked too much like a team.
- In 2001-2002 we registered as a USSA team (Independence) and a personal
friend of Shep's became our insurance benefactor. This would not have been
possible without the great deal offered through USSA. We trained 2-3 days per
week (four days for selected members) and modified our training philosophy. We
set gates on Friday afternoon before the kids arrived in the team van (Shep
traded the family car for a used 15 pax), and they got 3 hours of focused slalom
work. Saturdays and Sundays we did some drills, but mostly free skied with a
couple of NASTAR runs each day. Selected members also trained on Wednesdays.
- We had big results both in USSA and NASTAR during the 2001-2002 season, and
sent our first three racers ever to the Pacific Northwest 12 and under
Championships (Buddy Werner) in March. One eight year boy old took 30th of 150,
beating all but one J5 and one eleven year old girl was 27th of 154. We also
took three racers to NASTAR Nationals in Park City. We collected one 7-8 year
old Expert Division Boys Championship, a fifth place in the 11-12 year old
Expert Girls Division and a 10th place in the 13-14 year old Boys Recreational
Division. We hosted two race camps at Mt Hood that summer in tandem with the
Silver Mountain team, and ran our own race camp in September.
- The 2002 -2003 season was similarly successful, although the wins were
spread over more of the membership. Every racer hit the podium at least once.
One racer was the highest WC point earner for his age group, plus first to be
"bumped-up" a group in the league. We took 4 racers to Buddy Werner
Championships and one finished 18th in Slalom and 13th in GS of 150 girls
present. We finished the season with racers ranked #1, #2, and #4 for their age
groups in NASTAR and took 7 racers to Nationals, gaining two podiums, plus 4th,
7th and 9th place finishes.
- The 2003-2004 season saw even more growth. We added another volunteer
coach, Scott Barksdale, and increased our training tempo. During the summer we
conducted two training camps at Mt Hood. We also had one racer selected to an
elite camp in Canada, held in November. Nearly all of our racers hit the podium
at least once. Four of our boys were top five in World Cup point standings for
the league trophy. One 10 year old boy was 8th overall at the Buddy Werner
Championships. The same fellow won the NASTAR National Championship for 9-10
year old boys. Our only "Junior" racer (age 13 and up) qualified for Junior
Olympics and was named to the PNSA JO team in her first year of eligibility.
- During the 2004 off-season several of our older racers who got a late start
in the game departed. We picked-up two additional coaches Sean McAllister and
Tod Wehse), one with USSA coaching experience and one PSIA Level III instructor.
We filled our vacancies with 8 new athletes in the 6-9 year old age range and
trained in two groups for the first time, J4 and above and J3 and below.
- The 2004-2005 season brought the team more
success, despite record low snowfalls. One
athlete was selected to Junior Olympics for the
second time and this year went as the top seed from
the Northwest in all events. Another Athlete
was voted top J4 Boy in the region and went on to
win his 4th NASTAR National Championship. We
also took the NASTAR National Championship for J3
Girls, with that athlete beating all 600 female
competitors of all age groups.
- The 2005-2006 season brought more change to the
team. We added several new families, lost a
coach and began training for three new coaches (all
racer parents). This season we improved our
fund raising efficiency to pay for registrations,
insurance and coaches training. We also
purchased a digital timing system.
- The 2006-2007 season brought even more new
members and the loss of a few charter members.
The team continued to flourish, sending another
athlete to J3 Junior Olympics and several to NASTAR
Nationals. This season we added strength
training for younger members on a voluntary basis.
- The 2007-2008 season was very successful indeed.
We sent our largest contingent in years to Buddy
Werner Championships where they all skied well.
One J5 boy, Cory Diel was placed in the individual
league standings. Scott Snow had a banner
year, winning the Topolino Shootout and representing
the USA at the FIS Children's World Championships.
He also won the PNSA J3 Championship, took a Gold
and two Silvers at the Junior Olympics and was
selected to represent the USA at the Whistler Cup.
He ended the year as an athlete in the USST
Development System. Sadly, the team lost our
final Hanson (Raleigh) this year.
- In 2009-10 we had another busy year at the races with several breakthroughs at the J6 and J5 levels. Cory Diel finished 5th overall in the league on the season for J4s and skied well at Buddy Werner Championships. Scott Snow took two Golds (DH and Super G) and a Bronze in GS at Junior Nationals and made criteria for US Ski Team selection as its youngest member at age 16.
- The 2010-11 season brought new faces into the program and a new coach, Karen Brenner. Karen is a valuable addition to our staff. Cory Diel put in his first season as an Alpine Competitor (junior) and skied all of the Junior Olympic Qualifiers. He had a good season and decided to race another year as a Junior. Scott Snow met objective criteria for a second year with the US Ski Team. He remains the youngest member of Men's Alpine.
equipment deals each year and are able to find enough
pairs of close-out skis to outfit all of our racers on
new gear. We have a "pole party" each fall and everyone
swaps down to minimize the need for purchases.
Periodically we do tuning clinics to spread the
workload, and now all families are self sufficient in
that category. We still have no uniforms, but now nearly
every racer has a speed suit thanks to the generosity of
older racers and other teams.
continue to work to fund their own racing. We work
car washes scheduled every Saturday all summer to pay
for camps, registrations and personal equipment.
Our carwash is rather unique. Each spring the
racers provide their financial goals. Some of the
younger racers only work enough to pay for their NASTAR
pass or a set of skis. Others work a lot of
weekends to pay for special training camps, etc.
Some earn as much as $1500 per year. Our car wash
has been at the same location for eight years and has an
excellent reputation. About 80% of our customers
are returning customers. The children are
scheduled to work enough washes to meet their goals.
At the end of each day they split the money into equal
shares amongst those who worked and take it home.
The only requirement is that their earnings are spent on
These kids are great. All of them want to be fast. None of them
complain. All are there because they want to race, not
because their parents want them to race. Every one of
these kids genuinely cares about each other. They swim
together, BBQ together and train together year round.
The kids are in the same soccer leagues, baseball
leagues, and most attend the same elementary school. You
should be in the van on road trips... Yikes!!!
PAST AND PRESENT ATHLETES