Steamboat Springs For the past several weeks, the three-room trailer that sits in the Howelsen Hill parking lot has become a second home for freestyle coach Wendy Allen.
But she doesn't mind.
"My biggest goal is to see the youth of Steamboat grow in a positive way," Allen said as she sank into a big, inviting cushion of a well-traveled couch that sits between the freestyle and snowboarding offices in the trailer. Her loyal dog Roxanne had plopped on the floor at Allen's feet.
But Allen isn't planning on resting much in the next couple of weeks as she steps into the shoes of local freestyle legend Damian Wells. Wells left at the end of last season to take another job.
Allen, who was hired by Wells more than five years ago as a junior coach, knows it will take some hard work to live up to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's freestyle image.
"I've been spending well over 40 hours a week getting ready, but I don't really mind," Allen said.
The challenge for Allen is maintaining the team's long-running freestyle tradition.
"Damian was great," Allen said. "It's nice to know that he has enough faith to give me this opportunity."
Fellow freestyle coach Bobby Aldighieri also believes in Allen's ability to do the job and thinks Wells, his friend and former boss, has made a good choice.
"She's not afraid to work hard to reach her goals," Aldighieri said. "She also seems like a very organized person, and I think that is important when it comes to being a program director."
Allen, who has coached the junior freestyle program the past several years, is hoping to work with all of the skiers in her program this season.
She said the past several weeks have been a real education as she has worked with the ability skiers at their dryland training camps.
"I'm trying to get back into shape," Allen said. "I'm pretty active, but this is still hard work."
Allen grew up in Dana Point, Calif., where she skied from time to time with her family. But since the age of 7, her main focus has been in the world of competitive riding not skiing.
"I dreamed of going to the Olympics as a member of the U.S. equestrian team," Allen said.
Allen's Olympic drive came to an end, however, after college. Allen explained that in the world of horses, it can take millions of dollars to make the Olympic cut. She had plenty of talent and desire, but the financial burden was too much to overcome.
"Most sports are political, but you have to have a lot of money just to compete for a spot on the U.S. equestrian team," Allen said. "I wasn't in that group."
The setback was disappointing, but it didn't dampen Allen's desire to seek out adventure.
So in 1989, Allen packed up her bags and her horse, Key Largo, and moved to Steamboat Springs a bold move for a girl who left her entire family back in California. She arrived in Colorado and landed a job with SportStalker, where she would work for the next seven years. She also has worked as a manager for the Board Rider's Club the past several seasons.
During that time, she wanted to become a better skier and joined the master's program at the Winter Sports Club, just hoping to improve her level of skiing a bit. But she found something much more rewarding.
"I fell in love with the sport of freestyle skiing," Allen said.
"I did a couple of master's competitions and placed fairly well."
The success sparked Allen's interest, and she eventually landed a job when Wells hired her to coach the Bumps & Jumps program in 1996.
"I've just worked my way up since then," Allen said. "I love the sport and I love coaching."
This summer, Allen made history when she become the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's first female program director in 88 years. It is a moment Allen can be very proud of but not one that she wants to define her career.
"I think it is great that women have proven they can succeed at this sport," she said. "But as far as directors go, I don't think it should matter whether you are male or female as long as you can do the job."
Allen doesn't expect to make a lot of changes in the way the freestyle program is run in Steamboat. However, she said she will make moves to make sure the club keeps up with the quickly changing aspects of the sport.
She said there might be programs directed at some of the newer school aspects of the sport in the future, but top results will still be important.
"I'm sure it's going to be a little bit of a learning process for Wendy this winter," Aldighieri said. "But she is very dedicated to our program, and I think she will be good for the team."
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