Longtime PCST coach inducted to Hall of Fame
When the Park City Ski Club became the Park City Ski Team in 1976, Patti Formichelli had already been coaching for four years. She started her career at Snowbird in 1972 before moving to Park City two years later. She left the PCST in 2014 and returned to Snowbird, where she’s coached the past two years.
On Saturday, she’ll be inducted to the PCST Hall of Fame.
"Obviously, that’s a privilege," she said. "I started with the club in 1976 and spent 38 years there, so I guess if you’re around that long they have to acknowledge you."
Formichelli, who will soon turn 70, has seen a lot of changes in the sport of alpine skiing during her time as a coach. In the early days, she said she was sometimes more of a babysitter than a coach.
"In the ’70s, coaching was a little different," she said. "There was a lot of influence from drugs, sex and rock and roll, so you weren’t just a coach — you were trying to keep kids on the straight and narrow, too."
Fortunately, she said, the PCST quickly started producing world-class athletes, which helped the other skiers in the program maintain their focus.
"Once you get one athlete rising above, the other kids look at it and say, ‘Maybe I can do that,’" she said.
Roxanne Toly (Hall of Fame class of 2012) and Jeremy and Shannon Nobis (class of 2016) were among the first PCST skiers to make their names on the international level. As the years wore on, Formichelli and the other PCST coaches continued to churn out more top-level skiers. Though she’s worked with skiers like Toly, the Nobises, Ted Ligety and others, she said there’s no real way to know right away which skiers are destined for something special.
"Sometimes it’s the personality and the athletic ability with that personality," she said. "Sometimes it’s just that kid that works really hard and can’t stand to lose. Never do you really quite know."
The biggest challenge wasn’t managing the athletes, though. Formichelli said the equipment and technology upgrades have made alpine skiing grow exponentially since she began coaching.
"That changed the game quite a bit," she said. "The shorter skis changed things. In some ways, it made it more difficult [as a coach] because the kids could get away with more. But now [that technology] has come around full circle."
Kids today also have the benefit of years of accumulated knowledge in terms of training, Formichelli added.
"Along with technology, the nutrition and training concepts are things we didn’t even know about," she said. "They’re better younger today."
Formichelli said she’s softened her coaching tactics the past few years as she prepares for retirement. She laughed as she issued a "formal apology" to all the athletes she made do "edgie wedgies" over the years.
"They know what those are," she laughed. "I feel I evolved as a coach from being a hard-ass to basically a grandma coach at the end."
Though she’ll no longer coach, Formichelli will still be involved in the sport.
"I’ve given my heart, mind and body to the sport," she said. "I’m retiring, but maybe I’ll be a consultant or something."
She’ll also continue to ski as a hobby, following the powder wherever it lands.
"I’ve done a lot of backcountry in Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons," she said. "I love to do that."
The Park City Ski Team will host an alumni reunion and Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday night at the Park City Marriott (1895 Sidewinder Dr.) from 6 to 9 p.m. Formichelli will be inducted to the Hall of Fame alongside Jeremy and Shannon Nobis, Jana and Gary Cole and Phil Thompson.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.