Thursday, April 5, 2012

SMS Names Elite Team (updated)

Stratton Mountain School is adding an Elite Team this year. Gus Kaeding, an SMS alum who has been coaching with CXC the past two years, will coach this group. The group will work closely with the Stratton Mountain School team as well as the local youth ski league, West River Nordic. Stratton Mountain School nordic program director, Sverre Caldwell, will oversee and coordinate all of the Stratton programs.

We have two major goals for the program:

1) Help our skiers achieve international success.

2) Expose local skiers to top-level athletes.

This will be a community collaborative and should be a win-win situation. The Elite Team will benefit from the energy of the younger skiers and the community support, while the upcoming skiers will be able to train alongside some of the best skiers in the country and the world. By coordinating programs, we will have a clear pathway from youth skiing to Olympic athletes.

We are starting the program with a small, select group and are very excited about the team. They are all good people and strong skiers who are looking forward to training as a team and working with the local programs. We are also working closely with the US Ski Team coaches and are in the process of planning our summer/fall training and camp schedules with their input. USST Head Coach, Chris Grover, recently congratulated us on the new position and program saying, “ This is very cool for SMS and the U.S.A. We need more strong senior clubs and we are looking forward to working closely with you!”

Over the next month we plan to add 2-3 recent high school skiers to our Post Graduate program. These skiers will be able to train extensively with the Elite Team as well as the SMS team (which was just awarded the prize as the top junior club in the US for the second year in a row). These groups should bring one another and the entire SMS program to a higher level.

“With the final races of the season now over, I’m eager to work with the SMS team. The potential of the team has me really excited and I can’t wait to get the whole group together” – Gus

Here is the team!

Erika Flowers - Bozeman, MT. Erika just capped off an impressive collegiate career with All- American finishes in both races at NCAA’s.

Skyler Davis – Jericho, VT (SMS ’10). Skyler is a member of the USST D Team and last year he medaled at Senior Nationals.

Sophie Caldwell – Peru, VT (SMS ’08). Sophie is a two-time medalist at Senior Nationals. This year she was the top ranked female college skier in the East and she placed 2nd and 3rd in the NCAA Championships.

“ I am looking forward to training with this highly motivated group, being coached by Gus and giving back to the ski community in which I grew up.” - Sophie

Eric Packer – Anchorage, AK. Eric earned two medals at the Sr. National Championships this winter as well as two top ten finishes at NCAA’s. He also won the sprint race at the Super Tour Finals last week!

“ A combination of factors attracted me to the program. I visited the area and liked the idea of living here and being able to train with Andy Newell, one of the best skiers in the world. SMS has had consistently good results and overall, this program gives me the best chance to make the USST and do well on the World Cup.” - Eric

Andy Newell – Shaftsbury, VT (SMS ’02). Andy just finished 6th and 7th in the last two World Cup sprint races!

“ I’m looking forward to continuing my training in Vermont and getting a chance to work out alongside some of the best senior racers in the country. SMS has played a huge role in my development as a skier and having the opportunity to collaborate with Stratton and the skiing community in southern Vermont is going to help push me and the rest of the Elite Team to the next level.” - Andy

Below, Andy trains with a group of local skiers last summer.

Bill Koch, neighbor and Olympic medalist, is enthusiastic about the new program and the direction we are moving; “ This Elite Team is poised to create a critical mass of energy that once in motion, has the potential to take on a life of its own – reminiscent of a generation ago in southern Vermont.”

Eric, Bill Koch and Sophie

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