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Park City Ski Team has best year yet

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

To say the Park City Ski Team (PCST) had a good year is like saying that Park City has some decent skiing.

From top to bottom, the PCST had one of its strongest years ever.

"I knew there was potential for success at every level, but to have it happen ," said PCST director Dave Galusha with a big smile.

According to Galusha, this much success is not the norm in the ski racing world.

"This is unique to ski racing programs almost in the world, where from age nine to 19 kids are winning at every level," Galusha said.

He said the unusual level of success is a reflection of the positive things happening within the local ski education program.

"That’s specifically satisfying to me that I can look at the program and achieve at every level and that kids can leave this program and achieve," Galusha said.

Galusha said the obvious highlight of the season was PCST alumnus Ted Ligety winning Olympic gold in the combined event in Turin, Italy. Ligety was a member of the team from age 10-19 before qualifying for the U.S. Ski Team.

Joining Ligety on the Olympic stage were fellow alumni Resi Steigler and Steven Nyman. All three race on the World Cup circuit with other past PCST members.

One step down from World Cup in Nor Am competition, 19-year old Megan McJames was also busy making a name for herself and her former racing club by winning the overall Nor Am title as a junior skier. The results qualify McJames for the World Cup next season.

In collegiate competition, University of Utah skier Scott Venis won the national giant slalom title.

And that’s just the graduates.

Current members of the PCST were also hard at work grinding out wins on the slopes. According to Galusha, PCST athletes made their mark at every level of junior racing from ages 10 through 20.

In the youngest division, of 9-10 year olds, seven out of the top 10 girls and eight of the top 10 boys at the Intermountain Division ski Championship were PCST members. The 11-12 year olds posted similar results. Jesse Delacenserie and Sydney Staples were both gold medallists at the Western Region Junior Olympics. Staples also qualified for the International Children’s Races in Whistler, Canada where she led all American skiers at the event.

In the 13-14 year old age group, nine athletes qualified for the Junior Olympics. Angie Elliot captured the gold medal and qualified for the races in Whistler.

Among the racers ages 15 and 16, five athletes attended the Junior National Championships. Megan Williams came away with a gold medal in the slalom event. The win qualified her for the U.S. Senior National Championships, where she joined six other current PCST members and 12 alumni.

The team was able to make its presence known by having one alumnus finish in the top three in each of the four alpine events at the National Championships.

According to Galusha, their good fortune doesn’t stem from doing one particular thing better, but rather a number of positive forces coming together. He intends to use this season as a system to continually improve.

"I don’t see that we’re at the end of the road at all in terms of doing more and more for our kids," Galusha said.

Galusha says that the ski team’s recipe for success is multifaceted.

The team has had a record year for fundraising. An earlier $500,000 donation from Dick Marriott allowed the team to move from offices at the Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) parking garage level to an upstairs, 5,000-square-foot office with large enough to hold the 18-member staff. The locker rooms will also get a makeover thanks to a generous donation from Papa John’s pizza company founder John Schnatter. Galusha says he is thrilled that the staff finally has room for meetings and video analysis and the ability to meet the needs of the 130 racers on the team.

He also has tried to create an atmosphere where kids can blossom on their own timetable. Ligety was only a middle-of-the-pack finisher before breaking away from the pack in his later teens.

"It’s a situation that’s proven itself to develop kids to the next level, but kids feel they can develop at their own pace," Galusha said.

PCMR Eagle Race Arena, a space totally dedicated to ski racing and training, has also made a difference. Unlike like some teams, who must share the hills with other skiers, the PCST coaches are able work with a large number of kids at any time.

A full staff of top coaches, including many former U.s. Ski team coaches also creates excellent racers.

Additionally, Galusha highlighted a dedicated group parents who are willing to help support the team set the PCST apart from other programs.

"Our history has given our parents a feeling of trust in the program, so as a group, they are a part of the whole process," Galusha said.

Galusha hopes that this season will help cultivate a culture of success where younger skiers look to the top races for guidance and inspiration.

"It’s knowing that they can be successful set personal goals and have models ahead of them that know how to achieve them. If they see success they can model themselves after that success," Galusha said.

At the National Championships, Galusha said he looked at his racers, past and present, and felt satisfied, not just with the excellent results the racers had produced over the season, but with the wonderful people he feels all of his team members are.

Galusha says that the team won’t get comfortable after their banner year. Kids continue to join the program from Utah and around the country based on the proven results, and Galusha hopes that means the sky is the limit for the team.

"Every time you raise the bar, you’ve got something to shoot for," Galusha said.

Although, for the next few weeks, the team will definitely be reveling in their incredible year.

"Every PCST athlete may not be headed for the World Cup, but each can share in the accomplishment of the team this year," Galusha said.


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