SSWSC welcomes Sam Tarrant as new freestyle high performance coach
After a couple of extremely successful years feeding athletes to the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club freestyle program is entering a rebuilding period.
Program Director Bobby Aldighieri faced a tough task of replacing high performance coach Lars Johnson when he stepped down, but Aldighieri was up for the challenge and is happy with the results.
The new high performance coach is Sam Tarrant, who is coming from Stratton Mountain School in Southern Vermont. Tarrant skied freestyle through high school at Lowell Whiteman School in Steamboat, now named Steamboat Mountain School.
“One of the things I’m most proud of as a director is I’ve been able to find good people for these positions, and that’s not always so easy,” Aldighieri said. “I’ve worked pretty hard at it, but I’ve also been lucky. The harder you work, the luckier you get, and we want to keep it going.”
Tarrant made the hiring decision pretty easy though. Not only was he familiar with the area and the coaches, but he was a great person as well.
“Sam has a good reputation for being detail oriented,” Aldighieri said. “He’s ambitious and a smart guy. It was a really good fit. We’re pretty lucky to have him.”
Tarrant will lead the high performance team but will also co-coach the U17-U19 program with Ann Battelle. He’s already working with the program through summer workouts at the facility at Bald Eagle Lake.
“I’m hoping to rebuild the high performance program. It’s an important part of the Winter Sports Club,” Tarrant said. “I’m looking forward to getting some more high-end talent and coaching them and just being involved in the Winter Sports Club.”
No matter the coaching changes over the years, the SSWSC freestyle program has long churned out talented athletes who compete at the Nor-Am or FIS level. In 2020, five locals and club members were named to the moguls team in Landon Wendler, Olivia Giaccio, Jaelin Kauf, Kenzie Radway and Avital Shimko.
That group has moved on in a few different ways. Some are still competing, but with new coaches at the national and international levels, some, like Radway, have moved to coaching. Radway will help out the U13 and U15 athletes this summer before heading to college. She coached in the summer of 2019 while recovering from an ACL tear, as well as the following winter, and loved it.
“I decided to retire after my comeback season, which was this past season,” Radway said. “I ended up doing really well at selections and podiumed there and competed in the World Cup at Deer Valley. I also competed at nationals and just decided that I want to go to college next year, and a lot of it was, mentally, I wasn’t ready to go back to full-on training. I wanted to have some other experiences and kind of move on. I still love the sport and the athletes, and I want to help out the younger kids.”
Radway has already learned a lot by being on the mentor side of the coach-athlete conversation. She’s learned how to communicate her ideas to the younger athletes and how to share her knowledge with them in relevant ways.
She’ll be attending college in California in the fall but will coach and help out as often as possible for the program that gave her so much.
“I love their enthusiasm, and they’re so excited for learning and skiing and doing new things,” Radway said. “They haven’t gone through all the intense training or mental things yet, so they’re super excited. They learn really quickly.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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Just two American male freeskiers qualified for the finals Friday during the VISA Big Air competition at Steamboat Resort.