SSHS grad to put skis aside with college on horizon
Steamboat Springs — Matthew White seems content with his decision to trade his skis for a surfboard when he heads to college this fall. A December graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, he realizes his focus should be on academics, not chasing a wild dream.
“It is tough. I want to ski so badly, but I don’t know,” White said. “I’ll definitely try to keep skiing. I’ll have winter breaks. I might even do a comp, one or two. We have a month and a half off at semester, so I might try to fit in a comp, just for fun.”
White, who has family roots in Southern California, plans to attend Santa Barbara City College for two years before, hopefully, transferring to the University of California-Santa Barbara. Between surfing and living the beach life in the small community only a short drive up the coast from Los Angeles, White wants to pursue a degree related to a combination of environmental sustainability and engineering.
Then, maybe a few years down the line, he’ll return to big mountain skiing, an activity he proved to have a knack for last winter.
White — with fellow SSHS December graduates Nick Simon and Jack Vanderbeek — was part of the Steamboat Van Clan, which spent much of the late winter cruising around North America in the Vanderbeek family’s 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon.
The objective was to compete in big mountain ski events, which ultimately led to White qualifying for the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association North America Junior Freeride Championships, held at Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb in April.
White placed 11th, overall, among the best 15-to-18-year-old males on the continent. Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes Parker Temple (no result in the 15-to-18 age group) and Bryce Zetzman (27th overall in the 12-to-14 age group) also competed that weekend.
“That was really fun. It was crazy competing against the best kids in North America. It was so cool to see,” White said. “I definitely did better than I thought I would. I was competitive, for sure, when we were in the competitions, but I’m going to college next year, so it wasn’t like I needed to push myself and try to be the best. It was just for fun.”
White competed in big mountain events when he was younger and again, sporadically, as a high school junior. But he never had a chance to commit to skiing as he did last winter, with the help of local sponsors Grass Sticks and Harvest Skis, as well as Flylow Gear.
While his success makes him question his decision to at least temporarily hang up his competitive skis, the toll on his body and the obscurity of the sport make it easier to trade the ski boots for sandals.
“It would be so hard to make a living off this, because it’s not big enough. There is not any money in it,” White said of big mountain skiing. “I’m kind of realizing the (physical) impacts. It’s not really worth it, I don’t think. I might go back to it, though. Skiing is just something I want to do for fun.”
White won’t be the only Van Clan member heading west for college in the fall. Simon will attend California Polytechnic State University, located about an hour north of Santa Barbara in San Luis Obispo, California, to study business. Vanderbeek, undecided on a major, will attend Lewis & Clark College in Portland.
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