After a winter that saw Jackson athletes competing across the world and athletes from across the world competing in Jackson, the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club was recognized two weeks ago with three Intermountain Division year-end awards.
It was nearly a clean sweep for the club, which claimed three of the four major awards given out by the division made up of clubs from Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Montana.
The club came back with the Coach of the Year, Official of the Year and Volunteer of the Year awards. The only honor not claimed by Jackson was Scholar of the Year, which was won by an athlete from Rowmark Ski Academy in Utah.
“I think it represents the strides we’ve made recently as well as the strong history of the club,” said Brian Krill, executive director of the Jackson club.
“We might not be great at tooting our own horn,” he said, “and yet it’s nice when the division entity really recognizes we’re at the top of the game across all aspects of the sport.”
Kevin Keane, the U14 alpine coach, took the top coaching honors after a season that saw him lead the Western Region team and U14 club athlete Atticus Sanders at the Whistler Cup in March. While Keane works with athletes in Jackson full time, he was chosen to lead a contingent of athletes from across the West at the international competition, which the United States won.
“It was a big surprise,” Keane said of the award. “I think it’s awesome for the club. It’s definitely part of the bigger picture. “We have an awesome team of coaches. ... It’s a reflection of all those guys.”
Six years into his work with the club, Keane said working with the U14 age group is both exciting and rife with challenge. It’s a diverse group, with some kids still learning the ropes and the older ones developing into the teenagers who will hope to move on to U16 and FIS competition.
“It’s everything from kids that are coming into their own to kids that are pretty much fully developed teenagers with a wide range of abilities,” he said. “You’re still molding them at that age. It’s kind of the most rewarding age.”
Krill said the aim of the club is always to balance expending effort on bringing top-tier races to Jackson with ensuring that every endeavor it takes on goes toward the development of athletes. That’s part of the reason the club hosted a slate of events over the winter that included NorAm competition and National Performance Series races.
For that balance, Jackson coach Branko Zagar was named the division’s official of the year.
As the official at those events, Zagar acts as the chief of the race and is in charge of ensuring the competitions run smoothly and safely.
The final award captured by the club went to Sue Bybee, Volunteer of the Year. Bybee works as the timing and calculations guru for the club, and Krill said she volunteers 20 to 30 days through the winter to ensure accuracy in the timing equipment of all the races the club puts on through the season.
“Every single one of those days we need high-level expertise in the area of timing, and that’s not something we can throw a regular volunteer at,” Krill said.
The awards are nice recognition for the work the club put in over the past year, but Krill said it’s also a call to action for him and the program. With the club forever looking for the best avenues for developing the athletes, it’s imperative that everyone involved, from coaches to volunteers, is given the best opportunities to thrive.
“It’s a charge for the club to really support and continue fostering all the other people that make this happen,” he said. “The credit goes to them, and it’s a call for me to make sure we’re supporting them with more support and more infrastructure.”