Thursday, September 29, 2011
Steamboat Springs Brett Buckles has been part of the Steamboat Springs ski scene since she was 5 years old, but the Routt County native — who spent the past two seasons coaching with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club — couldn’t pass up an opportunity to guide a new ski cross program based at Copper Mountain.
Buckles said on Wednesday that she’ll be coaching this winter with the International Snowboard Training Cooperative based in Silverthorne and training at Copper Mountain.
“It’s always hard to leave Steamboat. I love Steamboat, everything about it,” she said. “This is an opportunity to take a step to a higher level with my coaching.”
Buckles started her career in Alpine skiing and made the U.S. Ski Team in 1998. Debilitating injuries caused her to step down after four years, but it wasn’t long before she drifted into ski cross competitions where she again rose to the top of her sport.
After retiring from skiing, she moved into coaching and helped grow the Winter Sports Club’s ski cross program through last winter.
“She’s been a fantastic coach,” said club snowboard director Jon Casson, who also oversees the ski cross program. “She has a really cool blend between laid back and chill and pretty demanding with high expectations. Most coaches tend to be one or the other, but she strikes the balance.”
By joining International Snowboard Training Cooperative and with the help of that program’s connections at an action-sport eager Copper Mountain, Buckles hopes to build an Olympic-caliber pipeline of ski cross athletes.
“I coached at the Project Gold camp in June at Mount Hood, and that brought all the best ski cross skiers in the country together,” she said. “I’ve seen the talent we have, and we can definitely make a run for the top spots at the Olympics.
"We can bridge the gap between those top guys and the younger kids, and that’s where my focus is and where I want my career to go.”
Casson said that the Steamboat program will continue with a new coach and that he expects 14 to 16 athletes to participate this winter.
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com