New ski coach looks forward to season | SteamboatToday.com

New ski coach looks forward to season

Kate Warner arrived in Steamboat Springs last month from Boston, but the former ski racer is ready to make her mark in the Steamboat community after being named the Alpine coach for Steamboat Springs High School's ski team.

Kate Warner said she’s almost always a meticulous person – planned, prepared and punctual.

Almost, of course, is the key word. There was nothing meticulous about Warner’s move to Steamboat Springs – nothing planned about the spur-of-the-moment decision, little considered about the implications of leaving her comfortable, full-time job in Boston and little concern given to the struggling economy in a pricey ski resort town.

“This time, I just went with it, right on down the highway,” she said.

Warner landed in Steamboat last month, but she wasted little time getting on her feet. She was quickly named the Alpine coach for the Steamboat Springs High School’s ski team. It was a decision program authorities said was as natural and powerful as the magnet that drew Warner west.

“We certainly had a search out there, and we advertised the position on the district Web site and in the newspaper,” program director Chad Bowdre said. “Then Kate was referred to us, and she just really shined through.”

Warner first impressed Bowdre with her experience – enough, he judged, to fill the role he was vacating. Bowdre left a job teaching at the high school to work with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. There, he is the director of operations and oversees many of the club’s programs, including its relationship with the high school Nordic and alpine ski teams.

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In Warner, he found an experienced downhill racer.

She first got serious about the sport when she transferred from her home in New Hampshire to finish high school at a sports-centered boarding school in Maine. She kept with it afterward, skiing for Hobart and William Smith Colleges in northwest New York.

“I’ve skied all my life and started racing when I was 5,” Warner said. “I’m very competitive. I’ve always been a decent skier, and I definitely got better in high school and college.”

She spliced her love for skiing with a soccer infatuation, and, after school, she built a solid resume coaching both sports. She stepped into the “real world” by working full time at an environmental consulting firm in Boston, but she always kept one eye focused on her sports. She coached soccer at Hobart and William Smith right after graduating and coached club teams, as well.

It was fine, she said, until the daily commute started to take a toll. She faced a 45-minute drive, with no traffic, to and from the office. On busy days, it stretched to two hours.

It proved too much, and when a friend suggested they move to Colorado together, Warner’s organized life was turned upside down.

“I’m not much of a city person at all, so when my friend came out here, I came too,” she said. “I thought about it a lot. I didn’t want to get complacent driving up and down the highway.

“You’re only young once.”

That youthful attitude didn’t escape Bowdre. He hired an unemployed Warner soon after she arrived in town and quickly realized there was more to like than her experience skiing and coaching.

“She’s just been working on dry land training with them so far but has been doing a fantastic job,” he said. “She’s very enthusiastic and seems to come by it naturally. Then when it comes to relating the technique of ski racing and the tactical portion of her job, my feeling is she’ll be very good at that, too.”

The ski coaching position isn’t a full-time job for Warner. She said years of living with her parents while working back east helped build her enough cushion to survive for a while, and she said she knows she can always move home if her attempts to land a more permanent position in Steamboat fall through.

She’s not about to sweat the details now, though. Like so many others, she is eagerly awaiting the snow and an opportunity to ski every day. And she’s eagerly awaiting the chance to help Steamboat’s ski program tear up the slopes.

“I get nervous, but it’s not a bad kind of nervous,” she said. “I think I can break skiing down and simplify it for my team, and I’m eager to get on the snow and help. It will be fun.”

– To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com