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  HISTORY

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 nationally.
  • 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 gates.
  • 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.

We work 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.

The kids 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 skiing.

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
   
Finan Anderson Peik Anderson Alexander Baker Kendra Barksdale
Laura Boge Baden Brenner Catherine Brenner Mica Carierre-Hickox
Christopher Cordova Ethan Cox Brayden Demko Michael Demko
Nathan Demko Cory Diel Jake Diel Quinn Donnelly
Sarah Donnelly Avery Edmundson Erika Edmundson Klien Fragoso
Slate Fragoso Christian Hanson Raleigh Hanson Spencer Hanson
Jezza Hutto Collin Jurenka Emily Jurenka Luke Koch
Mason Kreidler Matyas Kreidler Miles Kriedler Cali McAllister
Brenden McCoy Emma Millar Luke Miller Cody Oppelt
Patrick Orton Aubrie Perry Kyle Perry Bode Ross
Summer Ross Crosby Schmidt Alex Schrack Welsy Simko
Bonnie Snow Scott Snow Myriah Stenvers Gerhart Suppiger
Sawyer Treadway Dylan Vogel Eric Wehse Nikko Wehse