Tuesday September 02, 2014
Valley Citizen
Valley Photos
The next step in ski education
December 19, 2012

Nordic element and new executive director on the horizon

One of the valley’s oldest nonprofit organizations plans to merge with one of its newest in an effort to combine resources and reduce duplication while working with young athletes interested in taking their skiing and riding to a competitive level.

“We’ve got the best snow in the Rocky Mountains; there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have the best ski programs to take advantage of that,” said Darcy Klausmann, interim president of the Teton Valley Ski Education Foundation, an organization that was formed in 1978 to promote ski racing.

Having evolved over the years to include snowboarding and freeriding components to complement its established Alpine skiing element, the Foundation board gave its nod of approval last week to a merger that would incorporate programs of the Teton Nordic Team, a more recently formed nonprofit that facilitates competitive cross-country skiing for all ages.

“My goal would be to create a ski culture,” said TNT president Michael Bredal in favor of the merger with the Foundation. “Clubs like these have combined in Sun Valley, Bozeman and Jackson, enabling those groups to fully realize their potential. This is the beginning of something really good.”

While residents of Teton Valley are always careful to maintain their identity when being compared to other mountain towns, those associations aren’t so bad when you’re talking about the strength of nonprofit organizations.

Founded in 1938, what is now called the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club began utilizing the Trail Creek Nordic Center around 1960, and Nordic skiing has been a part of the club ever since.

Sharing resources

With Jen Smith in place as its Executive Director just this year, Klausmann said the Foundation has never been in a better place to build administrative partnerships.

“With all the athletes, their coaches and training, travel to races, insurance and all the other details, the Ski Education Foundation is a pretty labor intensive nonprofit,” Klausmann said. “Over the years, Jen has moved from the role of a volunteer to that of an administrator, providing valuable oversight and organization. Jen and her husband, Rick, were a turning point for the Ski Education Foundation, and now we are in a position to consider a merger with TNT that would broaden our volunteer base and take pressure off local businesses that support both organizations.”

In order to focus on her own growing business, Smith will be phasing out of her role as executive director by the end of January, but she is excited for the hire of a new director that will manage all the Foundation’s administrative details as this year’s director of coaching, Al Clausen, orchestrates programming.

“The Ski Education Foundation was run completely by volunteers, but there is a point when you need to have someone in place to run the off-the-snow administration,” Smith said. “This was my fourth season as a volunteer but my first as director, and I am really very proud how far we’ve come. When a new director transitions in, there will be a great opportunity to work to incorporate Nordic programming, as there are multiple athletes on both teams.”

With roughly 12 coaches working with the Foundation, TNT has one in the competitive category, with two master coaches and one recreational coach. Different from the recreational ski school that operates at Grand Targhee Resort, the Ski Education Foundation focuses on all of its programming on competitive aspects of skiing and riding.

“Grand Targhee Resort has always provided a tremendous amount of support for the Ski Education Foundation,” Klausmann said. “With the changes that are coming in the new year, we are hoping to grow and give back as much as we can.”

Though a much larger organization with 40 more years under its belt, the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club boasts bringing in more than $1M to that community with races and events. By the way it’s growing, the Teton Valley Ski Education Foundation has the potential to not only inspire athletes but also help support the local economy.

With the fiscal year of both the Ski Education Foundation and the Teton Nordic Team ending at the end of June, both boards agreed to shoot for a merger this summer.



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