Steamboat snowboarding program, coaches honored

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— An already successful season for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboarding program just keeps getting better.

The club’s snowboard program was named the USSA Snowboard Program of the Year for the fourth time. Head ProAm and Freestyle Coach Ashley Berger was named the USSA Snowboard Domestic Coach of the Year as well as the USSA Development Coach of the Year.

Snowboard Director Jon Casson was named the Development Coach of the Year by Ski and Snowboard Australia, while athlete Jarryd Hughes was named the Rising Star by Ski and Snowboard Australia.

“In the grand scheme it doesn’t mean a lot. It’s an award,” Casson said. “But you want to know your hard work means something. This award recognizes that we’re doing something right.”

The club had another banner year. Along with seeing riders like Matt Ladley and Maddy Schaffrick become names on snowboarding’s biggest stages, a plethora of the program’s younger riders took significant steps toward elite status.

Young riders like Arielle Gold, Hughes and Nik Baden had enormously successful seasons. Hughes earned his award after finishing 10th in his first World Cup event. The 16-year-old also finished third at the U.S. National Championships.

Casson earned his award on the merits of working with multiple Australian athletes like Hughes.

“Those Australian families send their teenage kids halfway around the world to train with this dude they’ve never met,” Casson said. “It’s a pretty big responsibility. I appreciate all those parents that have faith in me.”

For Berger, the award is just the beginning of an already bright coaching career.

Berger works with most of the freestyle snowboarders.

“I don’t know, I’m just really honored,” Berger said. “I’m lucky because I love my job and my kids are awesome. They are the ones getting the results. I’m just high-fiving them. I feel really lucky.”

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