New Alpine program director hired

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Anje Worrell

— When Alpine Director Chris Puckett made it official that he was leaving the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in May to take a position with Edward Jones, it sparked an extensive search for his replacement.

For two months, Rick DeVos, the club's executive director, searched the nation looking for a qualified candidate to fill the void left by Puckett. To his surprise, the best choice was right here in Steamboat the whole time.

DeVos confirmed Friday that Anje Worrell, who worked as an ability coach with the club last winter, has been hired to replace Puckett.

Puckett spent five years with the Winter Sports Club, including three as the Alpine program director.

"We were all sorry to see Chris leave the club, but we also wish him the very best in his new venture," DeVos said.

Puckett is leaving the club to take a position with the investment firm Edward Jones, which will be opening a branch in Steamboat Springs. He said his decision to take the job wasn't because he was dissatisfied as a director or looking for something else to do with his life. He said he was recruited by Edward Jones, and when the company said they wanted to open a branch in Steamboat, the offer was simply too good to refuse.

"This is a dream come true. I get to spend my weekends with my family, and I get to stay in Steamboat. The decision was driven by my own families needs," Puckett said. "My children were getting older, and it was getting hard to spend all that time on the road. : I woke up one morning and my son was six - I think that's when I realized I needed to spend more time at home or there would be consequences."

Worrell rejoined the Winter Sports Club last winter as a coach with the ability program. Several years ago she worked as a coach at the club, and is married to a Steamboat native. The couple left Steamboat several years ago to pursue an opportunity in Summit County and eventually moved to Crested Butte, where they worked at the Crested Butte Academy.

The Worrells have a 5-year-old son, Zane, and four-month-old, Cody, and say moving back to Steamboat and closer to family has always been important.

Worrell said the support offered by her in-laws and other family members is a big reason she decided to pursue the job as director.

Both Worrell and her husband, Rob, coached at the Winter Sports Club in the past. Last year, Worrell's husband took a position with the U.S. Ski Team that allowed the couple to return to the Steamboat area.

"Anje comes with 15 years of coaching experience," DeVos said. "She worked in Summit County, Crested Butte and as a private coach. She brings lots of experience and a unique perspective to this position."

Worrell helped start the Steamboat Springs High School Ski Team several years ago, and has insight into the qualities the U.S. Ski Team is seeking from today's young athletes.

However, Worrell says she hopes to bring a good mix to the Winter Sports Club next winter with a strong emphasis on developing a life-long love for the sport of skiing.

"Sure we want to continue to produce top-level athletes, and we want to encourage young skiers to join our sport," Worrell said. "But more importantly, we want the skiers in our club to ski even after their ski racing careers have ended."

Worrell, who accepted the position as Alpine director last Friday, said right now, she is trying to make up for lost time.

"I'm a little behind right now, but my goal is to be back on track long before dryland (training) begins next September. I'm excited about this job, and I'm looking forward to next winter," Worrell said.

Puckett was in Denver on Wednesday training for his new position with Edward Jones. He said he plans to stay involved with the skiing community in Steamboat.

He hopes to continue his work with the Steamboat Holiday Classic next year, and believes the event can grow into one of the premier ski races in Colorado.

- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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