Base Camp program introduces ‘a sport for life’ |

Base Camp program introduces ‘a sport for life’

Madeleine Osberger
Axel Robinson cruises up the hill at Spring Gulch while coach Emily VanGorp helps 5-year-old Atreya Stryker with the herringbone move.
Madeleine Osberger / Contributed photo |


The USASA series continued last weekend at Snowmass and Buttermilk, with many strong performances by local skiers and riders. A total of 80 athletes turned out Jan. 18 for the slopestyle event, 43 for the Rail Jam and 39 for the Half Pipe. The following are results for Glenwood Springs and Carbondale athletes:


Breaker Boys (ages 12-13)

4. Gavin Aragon; 5. Richard Argueta; 6. Dominique Johnson

Grommet Boys (ages 8-9)

1. Ryder Bollock

Junior Men (ages 16-17)

3. Finn Featherstone

Menehune Boys (ages 10-11)

2. Davis Cook; 4. Elliot Dwyer-Walz; 5. Bodhi Johnson; 7. Zane Hanlon

Open Class Women

2. Kyla Sobieralski

Open Skier Men

1. Tyler Spence

Skier Boys (10-12)

1. Dawson Hodgson; 4. Nolen Johnson; 5. Jacob Power Smith

Skier Boys (9 & Under)

1. Kai Morris

Skier Men (13-15)

2. Joey Lang; 5. Durga Reed; 7. Ian Catto; 9. Christopher Hooker; 10. Jack Cohan; 13. Campbell Mishel; 15. William Morris

Skier Men (16-18)

3. Evan Selby

Rail Jam:

Skier Boys

1. Kai Morris

Snowboard Boys

5. Davis Cook; 7. Richard Argueta; 8. Bodhi Johnson

Skier Boys

2. Dawson Hodgson; 5. Colin Hipona

Skier Men

5. Joey Lang; 7. Evan Selvy; 7. Campbell Mishel

Open Skier Men

3. Tyler Spence


Breaker Boys

3. Richard Argueta

Menehune Boys

1. Davis Cook

3. Zane Hanlon

Skier Boys

4. Ben Geiser

Skier Boys (9 & Under)

1. Kai Morris

Skier Men

1. Joey Lang; 3. Colin Hipona

CARBONDALE — When the sun drops behind the mountain at Spring Gulch, the temperature typically takes a big dive, too. Good thing then that the dozen or so young athletes gathered Tuesday afternoon for AVSC’s Nordic Base Camp program were constantly in motion.

At 4 p.m., the group started with a quick warm-up lap that was led by Emily VanGorp, director of AVSC’s Spring Gulch program that takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5:30 p.m. Afterward, the athletes dropped their poles and gathered for a makeshift ball game on skis.

“It’s like soccer, but you can pick up the ball and throw it,” VanGorp said to the kids, most of whom that day ranged in age from 6-8 years old (the program is open to youngsters up to the age of 11).

Coralie Ahrenskeaff, 7, from Carbondale, was quick on her feet as she skied from end to end of the snowy boundary. But so was Ross Montessori student Suzannah Hood-Garcelon and her brother, Emmet, who were intent on protecting the goal that was marked by Swix flags.

More adventure — an uphill climb on Spring Gulch’s myriad trails — awaited the group after the poles were redistributed and skiing resumed.

“I like that I get to learn,” said Suzannah Hood-Garcelon, who charged right up the incline like it was a flat surface. It wasn’t that easy for everyone, however, and VanGorp lent encouragement (and a small nudge) to a boy who was less experienced in the herringbone move.

Helping out that afternoon were Charley Abernathy and Nils Koons, the latter who just won the 2014 Owl Creek Chase in Aspen. Hearing that Koons was a native of New Zealand, one kindergartner asked: “What state is that in?”

For Abernathy, who teaches at Glenwood Springs High School and also works as a veterinarian, the Base Camp program is first and foremost about sharing the love of the mountain playground.

“It’s exploration and happiness outdoors. We’re teaching them a sport for life rather than just winning races,” she said. As if on cue, four skiers suddenly emerged from a stand of scrubby trees, and the evidence of a recent tumble in the powder as obvious as their toothy grins.

VanGorp directed the skiers to do a few jumping jacks to keep warm before they would face off for a final grudge match game on snow. It wasn’t exactly clear just who emerged victorious from the rematch, but everyone felt like a winner as they sipped hot cocoa at the end of a brisk and exhilarating afternoon at Spring Gulch.

There are still some openings in AVSC’s Base Camp program at Spring Gulch, which continues for seven more weeks. For more information, Maria Stuber can be contacted at

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