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Big Dreams: Max Marno

Steamboat Springs ski racer Max Marno has taken advantage of skiing for the University of Denver to earn degrees in Economics and Geography. When he finishes school this year he will also have a master's degree in Geographic Information Science.
Courtesy Photo

Max Marno was faced with a tough choice a few years ago.

Steamboat Springs ski racer Max Marno has taken advantage of skiing for the University of Denver to earn degrees in Economics and Geography. When he finishes school this year he will also have a master’s degree in Geographic Information Science.

Follow his U.S. Ski Team dreams, which would mean paying about $25,000 per year to represent the United States, or trade in that dream for the chance to keep ski racing at the University of Denver with tuition, room and board covered.



Five years later, Marno has earned degrees in economics and geography, along with a minor in Spanish, and he is currently chasing a master’s in geographic information science. He is entering his final year of college ski racing for one of the strongest programs in the country.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Marno said of his choice to ski at DU. “It was a great opportunity, and I really wanted to take advantage of it.”



After graduating from Steamboat Mountain School, formerly Lowell Whitman School, Marno spent two years in Steamboat as a post-graduate. During that time, he was named to the U.S. Ski Team for the 2010-11 season.

But the nomination came with challenges. The lower-level skiers on the national team do not receive funding, so Marno had to pay the bill for competing and training. The cost eventually led him to the University of Denver, where he earned a full-ride scholarship to ski.

The slalom and giant slalom specialist said the choice is often a personal one for skiers, who must weight the economic factors against their dream of representing their country at international events such as the Olympics.

Marno said the chance to earn a degree from a school that costs nearly $50,000 per year was something he couldn’t pass up.

During his first year at DU, Marno competed in 12 races for the Pioneers and recorded four top-10 finishes. The following season, in 2013, he earned second team All-

American honors in both slalom and giant slalom and finished eighth in the giant slalom and 10th in the slalom, at the NCAA championships.

But at the start of the 2014 season, Marno broke his tibia while training and did not race the rest of the year. The Steamboat skier came back in 2014, but had surgery prior to the start of the season, causing him to miss lots of early season training. He found himself playing catch-up the rest of the year.

“It was frustrating,” Marno said. “You want to get back to where you were skiing before you got hurt, but it’s a long road.”

Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Marno used the time to complete his undergraduate degrees and was able to save a year of eligibility.

Marno is hoping for a strong showing in his senior year. A good season might inspire him to make another run at the U.S. Ski Team after college, but he hesitated to say that was part of his future.

“I’m trying not to have a whole lot of expectations — I’ve been there before, and it’s not a good place to be,” Marno said. “I want to have a good final season, and I plan to go out and see what happens. If things go well, who knows? I might try to make the team again.”

Regardless, Marno plans to enjoy the unique experience of being part of a college ski team.

“I believe that it’s the most fun you can have in college athletics,” Marno said. “Your team is kind of like your family, and the relationships you form with your teammates are special.”


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