Alpine ski coach resigns after 15 years

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— Steamboat Springs ski coach Werner Schnydrig has the skill that comes from 15 years with the same club.

That is why the news that the long-time coach will step down from his position at the top of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Alpine program saddened his former skiers and the staff members.

"He really likes to win and he instilled that same desire in me," U.S. Ski Team Member David Lamb said of his former coach. "I'm really bummed that he is leaving the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. He had a huge influence on me."

Lamb first met Schnydrig when Lamb was 7 years old. He worked with Schnydrig for most of skiing career until he was named to the U.S. Ski Team last season. Lamb will graduate from the Lowell Whiteman School this weekend.

"Werner took Brett Buckles and me under his wing," Lamb said. "He taught me how to be a successful ski racer."

That is the type of relation that will make Schnydrig tough to replace, Winter Sports Club Executive Director Rick DeVos said.

However, the process of finding a new head coach is already under way and DeVos expects to have hired a new person by July 1.

"We've had a lot of interest since Werner announced his retirement at the USSA level," DeVos said. "But he will be a hard guy to replace. He will be missed by or organization."

Schnydrig said he loves his job, but had come to realize over the past year that the time for a change had come.

"I've been doing this for 15 years," Schnydrig said. "I've done everything I can do at the club and there is no place for me to go from here. I don't feel like I can give anymore, so the time for a change has come."

DeVos said he was not totally caught off guard by the news of the coach's resignation. Schnydrig had been talking about stepping down for the past few months, he said, and DeVos was ready when the news came.

"The guy was totally dedicated to his job, DeVos said. "What else can you ask for from a coach. He has a huge following in the Winter Sports Club and it will be a challenge for us to fill his shoes."

Schnydrig's announcement comes on the heels of several others in recent months. Cross-country coach Travis Jones, freestyle coach Damian Wells and Marketing and Public Relations Director Jeff Good have all stepped down since the end of the ski season.

Schnydrig, however, was quick to point out that the changes are just coincidental and that DeVos is doing a great job as executive director.

"It isn't about money or ideas," Schnydrig said. "I'm just at a point of my life where I need to stop and evaluate what I'm doing. I want to go out when the program is on top and when I'm on top."

DeVos admitted that the club is in a state of transition this year, but he expects to have many of the vacant positions filled within the next month.

"I have to look at this as an opportunity to shape the future," DeVos said. "This is the opportunity I have and it's what is on my plate right now."

Schnydrig has offered to stay with the club through the change and is expected to stay until August.

Schnydrig joined the team in 1984 as an age-class coach. He moved on to head the junior program from 1987 to 1997. He took over as head alpine coach two years ago.

Schnydrig said his job was more than just skiing. He said he enjoyed forming many long-lasting relationships with his students and hopes that he taught them something about life along the way.

He said he plans on taking a vacation to Costa Rica this week and then will just sit back and see what happens. He hopes to stay in the Steamboat area, but hasn't formed any long-term plans.

"Werner created Steamboat's junior alpine program," Lamb said. "He was one of the best coaches I've ever had."

To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@amigo.net

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