Photo by Matt Stensland
2008 Steamboat Springs High School graduate Jenny Allen, right, visits with Sawyer Gander, 13, during training Saturday morning at Howelsen Hill. Allen has returned to the club to help coach the U16 Alpine team.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Steamboat Springs Jenny Allen removed her ski boots Saturday inside the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club office, a place where she has spent a good portion of her life.
The 23-year-old grew up with the Winter Sports Club.
This time, however, Allen isn’t an athlete taking directions on how to refine her techniques. The 2008 Steamboat Springs High School graduate has returned to the club to help coach the U16 Alpine team.
“I was talking to someone the other day, and they told me, ‘You’ve come full circle. You’re back helping,’” Allen said. “It’s a cool concept. It feels good. I totally understand where they are. I’ve been there.”
Allen certainly has. She grew up in the program from when she first started walking to when she became one of the top Alpine skiers to come out of Steamboat in recent years.
After narrowly missing the U.S. Ski Team after graduation, Allen went to the University of Colorado to ski.
She skied for four years, including helping the Buffs to a 2011 National Championship.
She graduated in the summer with a degree in psychology. After briefly thinking about going into physical therapy and entertaining thoughts of continuing school, Allen heard from several Alpine programs about coaching.
Winter Park and Eldora were interested in her. After she signed her contract with Steamboat, Vail poked around about her interest.
Allen was a hot commodity. Her experience as a competitive athlete interested programs, and her ability to relate with girls made her a priority for the Winter Sports Club.
“After we hired her, the kids were so excited to meet her,” U16 head coach Michael Fairbrother said. “They instantly gravitated toward her. She’s able to relate to the kids. She has already formed meaningful relationships. These kids will remember Jenny Allen for the rest of their life. She’s already left an indelible impression.”
Allen started working with the club Oct. 1. She helped lead dryland training sessions and has helped the team with on-snow work, as well.
The U16 age group is a pivotal time in ski racing. The group races in the United States Skiing Association with an emphasis on becoming more independent and mature. After progressing past USSA, skiers start to compete in FIS races and earn points.
Allen’s ability to relate with the athletes has been the biggest boost. With 19 athletes in her age group, most of whom are girls, Allen’s transition to coaching has been seamless.
“She offers a female perspective, which is invaluable,” Winter Sports Club Alpine Director Deb Armstrong said. “There aren’t a whole lot of female coaches out there. To find one that is relevant and skilled, which is exactly what Jenny is, is a huge value to our program.”
Allen isn’t sure what the future holds, but she said she needed a break from school. For now, she is enjoying coaching and giving back to a program that gave her so much.
“I can relate with these kids because this is where I was four or five years ago,” she said. “To this point, it’s been a ton of fun.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com