Our View: 100 years old and still going strong

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Hitting the century mark is a huge accomplishment for any organization, especially one like the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which is a cornerstone of the Steamboat community, helping to define its culture and impacting the lives of more than 22,000 athletes and their families along the way.

Steamboat Today editorial board — January to April 2014

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Karl Gills, community representative
  • Will Melton, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

The success and longevity of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club would be difficult to replicate anywhere else, because the organization was built by the community throughout a century. The club enjoys a different culture than other clubs of its kind. The SSWSC, which is the oldest ski club west of the Mississippi, is not elitist. Instead, it springs from home-grown, humble roots, and during the past 100 years, families, businesses, coaches and community members have stepped up and played key roles in the club’s continued success.

The Winter Sports Club’s influence is international in scope, with the club training 79 Winter Olympians throughout the years. In 2014, there will be 14 more athletes with ties to the venerable club competing in Sochi, including super siblings Taylor and Arielle Gold and Bryan and Taylor Fletcher, and record-setting, six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick.

In addition to playing a life-changing role in the development of young Alpine and Nordic skiers, snowboarders and jumpers, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has a more intangible impact on the local economy in terms of tourist dollars that have come Steamboat’s way as people from across the U.S. and around the globe are introduced to Steamboat’s Olympic athletes as they compete on the international stage and then make plans to travel to the magical place that has produced them.

And while SSWSC is proud of its Olympic heritage, a foundational strength of the club lies in its focus on making sure any child who wants to strap on skis and a snowboard and compete has the opportunity, thanks to the generosity of local businesses, organizations and individuals as well as fundraisers such as Scholarship Day at Steamboat Ski Area, the Ski Swap and the Stars at Night gala.

Many former club members refer to the Winter Sports Club and Howelsen Hill as their second home — a place where they would gather after school with friends to train and compete and learn life lessons beyond those associated with race times and finishes.

For many, the Winter Sports Club wasn’t about the fastest run they clocked or how perfect their turns were, but instead about time spent with their peers and coaches.

As Taylor Fletcher shared in a newspaper column yesterday, “The club did wonders for me ... it taught me proper values and direction that kept me out of trouble and on the path to success. I have used the skills that the coaches taught me to be successful in life — organization, learning to lose and to win and to be a solid team.”

The Winter Sports Club also has benefited from strong leadership during the past century. Building on the work of past club leaders, Rick DeVos, who served as the club’s executive director from 1999 to 2013, is credited with securing financial stability for the club, developing year-round training opportunities and maintaining the club’s reputation for success. And now in its 100th year, the club is poised to embark on a new mission under the leadership of newly hired Executive Director Jim Boyne, whose management, marketing and strategic planning acumen will ensure the club enjoys another 100 years of success.

This week, the Steamboat Pilot & Today has published a special Winter Carnival/Olympics Preview special section that provides a complete guide to the upcoming four days of carnival activities, which shine a spotlight on the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s impact on this community while celebrating the club’s proud tradition of producing Olympic athletes as the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, begin.

Congratulations to the Winter Sports Club on turning 100. We celebrate the organization’s rich history that is intertwined with Steamboat’s own, and we look ahead to 100 more years of success as the club forges ahead with its mission of enriching the lives of children, producing world-class athletes and representing what’s best about our community.

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