Since the age of six, Rowland Hall junior—and passionate ski racer—Mary Bocock has had a big goal: to join the US Ski Team. That dream just came true.
I’ve wanted to be on the team ever since I started racing, so getting the call felt like I was achieving a goal I’d had for over 10 years.—Mary Bocock, class of 2022
On May 3, US Ski & Snowboard announced that 44 top national athletes, including Mary, have been nominated to the US Alpine Ski Team for the 2021–2022 competition season (athletes qualify based on published selection criteria in the prior season). Mary is one of only three new members of the women’s Development Team, also known as the D-Team; she’s also the youngest addition to that team and the only new member hailing from the state of Utah.
“When I got the call from [US Ski Team Coach] Chip Knight congratulating me on my nomination to the D-Team, I was overwhelmed with excitement,” said Mary. “I’ve wanted to be on the team ever since I started racing, so getting the call felt like I was achieving a goal I’d had for over 10 years. I am looking forward to skiing with a group of girls who push me and who know what it takes to be the best.”
Mary had a sensational 2020–2021 race season, which included a November 2020 US Nationals performance with Rowmark Ski Academy that earned her an invitation to compete with the US Ski Team in Europe. After placing in several races in Cortina, Italy, and Garmisch, Germany, in early 2021, Mary returned to the United States to finish the season: at the FIS Elite Races at Sugar Bowl Resort and Squaw Valley, California, she took 10th place overall (second for U19s) in giant slalom, and 11th place overall (fourth for U19s) in slalom. At the FIS Spring Series in Breckenridge, Colorado, she won the giant slalom race—a win that currently ranks her second in the nation and sixth in the world in giant slalom for her age, as well as first and ninth in the world in super-G. Finally, she ended the season with a 12th-place finish in super-G at the US National Championships in Aspen, Colorado.
Mary's fierce competitive nature is among the best in the world and I'm confident that she will take advantage of this opportunity.—Graham Flinn, head FIS coach
“Mary has worked incredibly hard day in, day out, not only this season but for many years in order to put herself in a position to accomplish the goal of being named to the US Ski Team,” said Graham Flinn, head FIS coach for Rowmark Ski Academy. “I'm very proud of the way she carried herself throughout this past year's successes and challenges. She continues to impress with her drive and ability to be a student of the sport. Her fierce competitive nature is among the best in the world and I'm confident that she will take advantage of this opportunity.”
The US Ski Team’s alpine athletes have already kicked off pre-season camps, and the official team will be announced this fall once nominees complete required physical fitness testing and US Ski & Snowboard medical department clearance. We will continue to update the Rowland Hall community on Mary’s progress in this exciting new chapter in her ski-racing career—which she’ll balance alongside her senior year at Rowland Hall—through the fall and winter.
The below video, first shared with the Rowland Hall community in April 2021, features Mary's reflections on competing in Europe earlier this year.
Congratulations to junior Mary Bocock, who has had a banner year with Rowmark Ski Academy.
Thanks to her performance at US Nationals in November 2020, Mary was invited to compete with the US Ski & Snowboard Team in Europe, starting in January. She kicked off her journey in Cortina, Italy, where she skied to fourth place overall (second for U19s) in super-G, earning an invitation to travel to Garmisch, Germany. There, she took third place (first for U19s) in super-G, followed by fourth overall and second place in alpine combined, ending with a ranking of 12th overall (second for U19s) at the German National Junior Championships.
“Mary has had an incredible season and has shown on multiple occasions that she is one of the fastest skiers her age in the world,” said Graham Flinn, head FIS coach. “The years of hard work and dedication that she has put in are showing, and we look forward to watching her continue to compete on the international stage. We are proud of her work ethic, ownership, and commitment to being an elite student-athlete.”
Since returning from Europe, Mary has continued to excel on the slopes. In the beginning of March, at Breckenridge, Colorado, she won the giant slalom. At the FIS Elite races at Sugar Bowl Resort and Squaw Valley, California, in March, she placed 10th overall (second for U19s) in giant slalom, and 11th overall (fourth for U19s) in slalom. She then won again in the giant slalom race in Breckenridge, Colorado—with this finish, Mary is currently ranked second in the nation and sixth in the world in giant slalom for her age, as well as first and ninth in the world in super-G. Mary will complete her season at the Women’s US Nationals in Aspen, Colorado, later this week.
Well done, Mary, and good luck in Colorado!
Update April 19, 2021: At the Women's US Nationals in Colorado, Mary placed an outstanding 12th in super-G.
Check out the below video to hear Mary reflect on her time in Europe, as well as to hear Coach Graham Flinn and English teacher Kody Partridge attest to how Mary's a force on the slopes and in the classroom.
This summer, Rowland Hall welcomed former competitive ski racer Foreste Peterson to the Rowmark Ski Academy team.
We could not be more excited to have Foreste on board to work with our Academy athletes on and off the hill to share her knowledge, work ethic, and grit.—Todd Brickson, Rowmark program director
Foreste joins Rowmark as U19 International Ski Federation coach and academic liaison. A former racer for the Squaw Valley Ski Team, US Ski Team, Dartmouth College Ski Team, and Team X Alpine private women’s team, Foreste brings to Rowmark valuable elite athlete knowledge and experience that will benefit our student-athletes.
“We are thrilled that Foreste has joined our Rowmark Ski Academy staff,” said Todd Brickson, program director. “Her international experience and skill as an elite ski racer; her determination to scratch and claw her way to the top of collegiate skiing, all the way to the World Cup; and her humble yet confident demeanor all combine to bring an incredible person and personality to our coaching team. We could not be more excited to have Foreste on board to work with our Academy athletes on and off the hill to share her knowledge, work ethic, and grit.”
To help introduce Foreste to the Rowland Hall community, we asked her to play a round of 20 questions. (Be sure to also check out 20 questions with Colette Smith, Upper School girls soccer coach, published earlier this fall.) Foreste's answers have been lightly edited for style and context.
1. We’re so excited that you’re one of our Rowmark Ski Academy coaches. What made you decide to join the Rowmark team?
Thank you, I’m excited too! It was a pretty easy decision to join Rowmark. I had just retired from my own racing career and knew that I wanted to stay in the sport and give back to the next generation of ski racers. I also knew I wasn’t ready to leave Utah, so it was a no-brainer to not pass up this opportunity.
2. What initially got you interested in ski racing as a kid?
Both my parents were ski racers and avid skiers, so they put my older sister and me on skis at the age of two. At four I joined the Squaw Valley Ski Team junior program, which transitioned into the race program. Skiing has always been a huge part of my family’s lifestyle, so I didn’t really have a choice in the beginning. Luckily, I fell in love with it early on and knew that I wanted to take it as far as I could.
3. You have impressive credentials: you were a member of the US Ski Team for four years, then competed for Dartmouth College, where—among your many achievements—you raced in World Cup competitions and earned the Class of 1976 Award as one of the college’s most outstanding female athletes of 2017. You also skied for Team X Alpine, the elite private women’s team, for two years. How did these opportunities as an athlete prepare you for this new chapter of coaching?
While I’ll certainly take all that I’ve learned from my experiences as an athlete into my coaching career, I think what prepared me most were certain pieces of feedback and advice I got from my former coaches over the years. How I thought about skiing and how I carried myself as an athlete were largely influenced by how I was coached. Now that I’m the one in the coaching role, I’m still benefiting from the pearls of wisdom that struck me back when I was an athlete. This wisdom has not just prepared me, but has compelled me to stay in the sport so that I can pass it on to the next generation, and hopefully make a difference in their athletic careers.
4. You are coaching Rowmark’s U19 athletes (students aged 16–18). As someone who began competing with the US Ski Team at age 16, you understand what it’s like to juggle athletics and academics at a young age. How do you see yourself helping your student-athletes balance those areas?
I do know what it’s like to juggle athletics and academics, and I know how challenging it can be. It wasn’t until I got to Dartmouth that I realized what time management really meant. More than that, I learned how incredibly important it is to make the most of the limited time you have, whether in the library, in the gym, or on the ski hill. I found that staying present, focusing on the task at hand, and being deliberate about what I was trying to accomplish helped keep me grounded, especially in times of stress.
I’m already so impressed by how much the student-athletes I’m working with have on their plates and how well they manage the loads. That said, I realize there will inevitably be bumps in the road for each of them, so as their coach I fully intend to serve as a resource, provide guidance, and do whatever I can to help them figure out how to best strike a healthy life balance so they can focus on what’s important in the moment.
5. As a competitor, you skied all over the world. If you could only ski at one resort for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
That is a really tough one, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Jackson Hole.
6. If the powder fairy granted you the chance to pick your perfect ski weather, what would it be?
Twenty-five degrees, bluebird skies, little to no humidity, and no wind!
7. Necessary equipment aside, what’s the one item you can’t be on the mountain without?
A neckie, a.k.a. neck warmer, neck gaiter, or buff. No matter the temperature, I feel naked if I’m not wearing one.
8. What’s your favorite aprѐs ski meal?
Nothing beats Wiener schnitzel in Europe.
9. Who’s your favorite professional skier to watch?
When I was younger it was always Bode Miller. Nowadays, it’s probably Wendy Holdener for the women and Alexis Pinturault for the men.
10. Let’s step away from skiing for a moment and chat about other areas of your life. What is one of your favorite things you did this summer?
I went home to California to see each of my parents, which I hadn’t done in a long time. Part of my time I spent visiting my dad in Squaw Valley and Berkeley (where I split my time growing up), and the rest of my time I spent visiting my mom in Santa Barbara. Squaw Valley and Santa Barbara are two of my favorite places, so getting some quality time in each place made me really happy in and of itself.
11. What book do you read over and over?
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
12. What’s the last show you binge-watched?
I’m not much of a binge-watcher, let alone TV watcher, but I’m currently making my way through Ozark.
13. What’s your dream vacation?
Anywhere that has white sand and clear blue water. It would also include eating freshly caught seafood for most meals, hiking to waterfalls, no snakes, and daily massages.
14. What’s one fun fact about you that you don’t often get to share?
I have two: (1) I am a fifth-generation Californian, and (2) I strangely enjoy the hiccups.
15. What one phone app could you not live without?
Probably Spotify. Music and podcasts add a lot of enjoyment to my days.
16. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would you pick?
This one is really hard for me, so I picked three from our lifetime: [musician] Taylor Swift, [tennis player] Naomi Osaka, and [basketball coach] Steve Kerr.
17. You grew up in Berkeley, California, but moved to Park City when you joined Team X Alpine. What do you most enjoy about living in Utah?
I love being able to walk out my front door and be on a hiking or mountain biking trail within five minutes, or to be within a 30-minute drive to some of the best skiing in the US. The access here is truly incredible. I also love the community feel of living in a mountain town. There’s always something going on, and it’s so fun to live in a place where the options are endless everyday.
18. Who has been one of the biggest influences in your life?
Each of my parents has been very influential in my life. They have always been my biggest supporters, no matter what the outcome looks like. They’ve taught me how to put my best foot forward and give 100% in whatever it is I’m pursuing. They’ve shown me what it means to set your mind to something, and what it takes to get there. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for them, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have had them as my role models.
I’d love to be able to instill a resilient mindset in my student-athletes...if they can learn to be resilient in this sport, they will be resilient in all other areas of life.
19. What is the top life skill that you want to help build in your student-athletes this season?
I’d love to be able to instill a resilient mindset in my student-athletes. 2020 is certainly showing all of us that life can throw some major curve balls, so whether it’s on the scale of a global pandemic or a DNF [Did Not Finish] in a ski race, I want my athletes to be able to pick themselves up when the going gets tough and “keep on keeping on.” That’s not to say I want them to be heartless, emotionless robots—absolutely not. I just think that ski racing can teach them so much about not giving up when things aren’t going well or as planned, and if they can learn to be resilient in this sport, they will be resilient in all other areas of life.
20. If you had to give your athletes one piece of advice or one affirmation to keep in mind before they race, what would it be?
Trust in your abilities and take the reins. Once you get into the starting gate, you are the boss, so make the most of it!
After a four-month delay caused by the global pandemic, the US Ski & Snowboard Intermountain Division (IMD) announced on September 22 their 2019–2020 season awards. We are thrilled to share that Rowmark Junior Program Director Troy Price was named IMD Official of the Year.
An already well-recognized coach (Troy was most recently named US Ski and Snowboard’s Development Coach of the Year in 2018), Troy’s career is marked by an exceptional commitment to his student-athletes and colleagues, as well as to the larger division—he is actively involved with IMD, running yearly officials’ clinics and, this month, completing studies to become a International Ski Federation (FIS) technical delegate, the senior alpine official at internationally scored events. With the completion of this certification, Troy has become the division’s first new FIS technical delegate in 25 years—a necessity for this area of the country.
“There is a desperate need for this certification in our division and region,” said Rowmark Program Director Todd Brickson, who also noted that Troy takes on both his IMD and Rowmark tasks “with tremendous passion and knowledge of our great sport.”
As someone who is enthusiastic about helping to improve the ski-racing experience for athletes not only in Utah, but throughout the West, Troy is honored to be recognized by his peers for his work—although he is quick to point out that he is one of many working toward this goal.
“All alpine officials play a critical role to ensure our athletes have a safe environment and to enforce the rules of our sport. Our division is full of great individuals willing to donate their time and expertise,” Troy said. “I have had the pleasure to follow the lead of many great officials that have guided me throughout my career. I now have the pleasure to share my experience with the next generation and some outstanding folks who volunteer their time throughout our division. I look forward to continuing my education and giving back to the sport for many years to come.”
In addition to Troy’s recognition, five Rowmark student-athletes were recognized by IMD:
The breadth of the awards, both academic and athletic, across all ski racing disciplines is a reflection of our Rowmark values of teamwork, balance, and determination.
Carter Louchheim ’20 was named the 2019–2020 season’s Alan Hayes Intermountain Scholar for his athletic and academic achievements.
Harry Hoffman ’23 earned the Bryce Astle Intermountain Cup Award for men’s overall, as well as Intermountain Cup Awards for men’s slalom (first place), men’s giant slalom (first place), and men’s super-G (second place).
Elisabeth Bocock ’23 earned the Bryce Astle Intermountain Cup Award for women’s overall, as well as Intermountain Cup Awards for women’s slalom (third place), women’s giant slalom (first place), and women’s super-G (second place).
Jack AbuHaidar ’22 earned an Intermountain Cup Award in men’s giant slalom (third place).
Dagny Brickson ’21 earned an Intermountain Cup Award in women’s downhill (second place).
“I'm so pleased to have so many Rowmark athletes receiving awards from our Intermountain Division,” said Troy. “Carter, Harry, Elisabeth, Jack, and Dagny all came through the Rowmark Junior Program. It is extremely rewarding to see them continue their love for the sport and their pursuit of excellence.”
Todd echoed Troy and said Rowmark is proud of its award winners. “The breadth of the awards, both academic and athletic, across all ski racing disciplines is a reflection of our Rowmark values of teamwork, balance, and determination.”
Banner photo: Troy Price, left, with coaches Megan Hanrahan and Jay Sawyer and some of the members of the Rowmark Junior 2019–2020 All-Mountain Rippers team.
Lauren Samuels ’11—a Rowland Hall graduate who competed for Rowmark Ski Academy her senior year and two postgraduate years—served as the youngest panelist on a July 15 U.S. Ski & Snowboard virtual discussion on how to remedy the glaring lack of racial diversity in snowsports.
Lauren, who identifies as Black and multiracial, spoke candidly about how systemic racism and discrimination impacted her skiing career, and how the industry might better foster a love of skiing among people from more diverse backgrounds. Excerpts featuring Lauren—a newly named member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee—are transcribed below.
Though the COVID-19 outbreak cut the 2019–2020 ski season short, Rowmark was grateful to have Lauren return (if only briefly) in a new capacity: FIS assistant coach and academic liaison. This fall, she’ll head to the University of Oregon to start a graduate program in sports product management, and plans to pursue a career in the outdoor industry.
Lauren has a rich history in ski racing. While enrolled in Rowmark, she spent much of each season traveling as an invitee with the U.S. Ski Team. She’s a J2 National Super-G champion who also raced in the U.S. Nationals and World Juniors championships. After Rowmark, she attended the University of Utah and competed as a member of their prestigious alpine ski team. She captained the team her senior year when the Utes won the 2017 NCAA National Championship.
We’re proud to call Lauren an alum, and we'll be referencing and building on discussions like this one as we redouble our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and antiracist work.
Not until I joined the National Brotherhood of Skiers and went to my first summit did I see another skier of color besides my dad and my brother.
Henri Rivers: Lauren, I’m going to go to you first. And I really want you to be honest with us. Has racism and discrimination altered or shortened your career as an athlete?
Lauren Samuels: This question is hard to answer. Altered, absolutely. Shortened, possibly.
Henri: I don’t want to put you on the spot like that because I understand where you’re coming from, I do. If you want to answer, you can, but we could rephrase it.
Lauren: I’m open to speak about it, it’s just tough to talk about. But I would say in regards to altering, it’s more what Schone and you, Henri, spoke about. I was already exposed to skiing because of family. I grew up skiing, learned how to ski when I was two. But once I got into the more—I mean really, even at the grassroots level, my home club, not seeing other people who looked like me, [having] that lack of comfort and support. And I was lucky to be involved with NBS, the National Brotherhood of Skiers, from a young age, where we had other athletes who were older than me and better than me that I could look up to. But not until I joined NBS and went to my first summit did I see another skier or ski racer of color besides my dad and my brother. In the topic of shortening my career, again, that’s hard to say, but I think possibly that shortened my career.
I had the highest vertical jump on record when I tested at 15 years old on the development team and immediately I was told, ‘That's just because you're Black.’
Some language I was faced with at any level, specific stories with the U.S. Ski Team, being disrespected or being told that I wasn't working hard enough even though I would show up to our physical testing and break records. I had the highest vertical jump on record when I tested at 15 years old on the development team and immediately I was told, “That's just because you’re Black.” And then I continued on, [being told] I'm not working hard enough, but my fitness and everything shows that I am working hard enough. These are things that, that’s racist language—as much as no one said I’m not working hard enough or it’s just because I’m Black that [I’m] not making it to the next step. But I do believe there is some ingrained racism in our sport, and in the people in our sport, and in the highest levels as well.
Henri: It’s hard to even comment on that because I’ve watched you grow up. I’ve watched you as such a spectacular racer and I'm really sorry to hear that you had to go through that. Do you think having coaches—and I know it’s also a gender thing as well—but do you think that having coaches (male and female) of color would have helped you adjust to some of the things that you were exposed to?
I was told I had to braid my hair to ski downhill because it's the fastest, most aerodynamic style. Maybe if I had a coach who had an experience similar to mine, they would've come up with other ideas or not judge me for not braiding my hair.
Lauren: Yeah, I think it's more, again, about that comfort and belonging there. There comes a big relief, at least on my shoulders, when there’s another person of color on the hill that day. And it’s as minor as that: I know there’s someone else here who will stick up for me or speak out if something does happen or go that way. And same with being able to relate on other things. My hair: I can't braid my hair—it doesn't really braid—but I was told I had to braid my hair to ski downhill because it's the fastest, most aerodynamic [style]. Well, maybe if I had a coach who had that experience similar to me, they would come up with other ideas or not judge me so hard for not braiding my hair. It's things like that that I think a coach of color and female would help with, but I don't even want to say that it has to be a Black coach or look exactly like me. Does that answer your question?
Henri: Yeah, it does. Wow, you know, I take a deep breath because you know I have young racers as well and they will start experiencing those things. That is why we’re here, that is why we’re having this discussion, so that we can stop this type of thinking and these thought processes because they are unfounded, they’re unnecessary, and they hurt young people. Lauren is a young racer that should not have to experience these things. But this is what we continually do year after year after year. We need to stop the cycle. Forrest, my question for you, same question I had for Lauren. Has racism or discrimination altered or shortened your career (I know it has) with [U.S. Ski & Snowboard or Professional Ski Instructors of America]?
Forrest King-Shaw: Well, it hasn’t shortened my career, that's for sure. It’s altered it, oh, absolutely. And before we go too deep into this I wanted to comment on a couple of things Lauren said. I have two daughters that ski race and if you knew the discussions I had with them about helmets, that was something I had to figure out. I'm a man and had to learn how to be a better man by raising daughters. So I think there’s a parallel here. You don’t have to be in our circumstance. You don't have to be whatever gender or whatever ethnicity to be better at understanding what people have to carry.
Getting more kids and athletes from all aspects of diversity will expand our talent pool and make it better.
Henri: Lauren, what do you think the U.S. Ski Team or [U.S. Ski & Snowboard] can do to develop more athletes of color? Have you ever thought about that? Is there anything that you think they could do a little different that would help attract or bring in—you know, that’s a hard question to ask because the snow industry, it’s a difficult sport to get into, but what do you think? Have you ever had any thoughts about that?
Lauren: Yeah, I’m going to kind of piggyback on what Forrest said about how it’s the outward-facing portion of your association, your organization, and that outreach, and partnerships with organizations like Winter4Kids and with [Share Winter Foundation]. I’m going to speak about one that I know purely off of location, it’s within a mile of my house: the Loppet Foundation. They are getting kids from inner city Minneapolis out skiing and on the snow, and they focus on nordic skiing. And I think starting at that grassroots level is really, really important. And like Forrest said, if your first experience isn't great, you're not coming back. But this is more about getting the new athlete, the new member, to love skiing in one way or another. If they dont love skiing they're not going to work their way up and be a coach. Or even at a later age, if you get exposed to skiing when you're 20, 30, whatever it is, if you don't love it, you're not going to stay involved in the sport. And again, really, it's a lot of the same as [what Forrest said]. That interaction between the elite level and the younger or less elite level, between the current athletes on the U.S. Ski Team and reaching out and connecting with those younger kids. Or even coaches, newer coaches to the sport, feeling like you matter, feeling like you can make it to that next level, to that next step, whatever it is. It doesn't have to be the elite track, but it can be. And I don't think that should be disregarded that getting more kids and athletes from all aspects of diversity will, one, expand our talent pool, and make it better.
Rowland Hall and Rowmark Ski Academy alumnus A.J. Oliver ’07 and Marcus Caston—a Rowmark postgraduate skier from 2007 to 2009—grace the powdery screen in Timeless, the latest Warren Miller Entertainment movie getting skiers stoked for winter.
Though Marcus has been in several Warren Miller movies, Timeless is A.J.’s first. Both Rowmark alums have turned skiing into their livelihoods and are backed by big-name sponsors such as Patagonia, Head, Helly Hansen, and POC. A.J. is currently a ski instructor at Big Sky Resort and an outdoor guide in the off-season—read his recent profile in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. And Marcus has a robust résumé that includes several magazine covers—read his 2017 Ski magazine profile.
A.J. and Marcus expect to be at the following local showings of Timeless. Catch them before or after the movie and tell them hi, from Rowland Hall and Rowmark.
Jeanne Wagner Theatre, Salt Lake City
Thursday, October 24, at 7 pm
Friday, October 25, at 6 and 9 pm
Eccles Center, Park City
Saturday, October 26, at 6 pm
The duo also stopped by the Rowmark office October 23 for a Q&A with staff, including Rowmark Director Todd Brickson. Watch the video on the Rowmark Facebook page, or read the highlights below, edited for length and context.
A.J., how did Rowland Hall shape you?
A.J.: The education that you get here is second to none. It really prepares you for when you go to college. I remember sliding into freshman year pretty comfortably and not feeling like I was overwhelmed or underprepared. I went to Rocky Mountain College in Billings, and it was very natural moving to a small liberal arts school from Rowland Hall because the curriculum is similar.
And how did Rowmark shape both of you?
Marcus: When I was here as a PG I was just focused on skiing and that was my life. It teaches you how to buckle down, focus on one thing, and work hard.
A.J.: Rowland Hall prepares you in some of the same ways, but being in a program structured like Rowmark, you learn to hold yourself accountable and get out there and do the work, and that's the only way you're going to get where you want to go. And so that sticks with you moving forward—that sense of self-accountability.
What’s your favorite Rowmark memory?
Whenever we get back together there's definitely a sense of camaraderie and a bond that doesn't go away.—Rowmark/Rowland Hall alum A.J. Oliver ’07
A.J.: [Laughs] I might get Todd in trouble, but trust-falling off the top of the short bus at Bear Lake. Man, that's a fall—right off the top of the ski rack. That one sticks with me for sure.
Marcus: The people I got to ski with. You become family, you spend all your time together throughout the winter traveling, and you get to know one another. And that's something that at the time you take for granted, but you don't really have that in life—a group of people you go out and ski with and spend time with every day.
Do you keep up with people from your cohorts?
A.J.: Absolutely. This week in particular has been exciting. I’m looking forward to a few days at home and seeing old classmates and teammates. Whenever we get back together there's definitely a sense of camaraderie and a bond that doesn't go away.
What was it like to be in a Warren Miller production?
Marcus: I went to Chamonix, and I’ve always wanted to go. It’s legendary in the ski world. If you’re a skier, you know Chamonix has the biggest and steepest mountains, so it’s known for its extreme skiing. I was pretty nervous going into it just because you build it up in your head, and the hype is real. It’s steep, and it’s icy, and it’s scary. But lucky for me, conditions weren’t in for the steep stuff, so I got to kind of ease my way in a little bit. And being in Europe is always great—it’s just a cool ski experience. Skiing is life over there—they’ve got it down: huts and good food up on the mountain.
A.J.: It was a blast. It was an all-new experience. It was super cool to call Marcus after growing up skiing together and kind of dreaming if this would ever happen. It’s cool to be on the big screen together. I got to go to the Monashee Range in British Columbia and ski with another PSA [Professional Ski Instructors of America] instructor, Brenna Kelleher, who is a sibling of another Rowmark alum, Keely Kelleher ’03. And then Glen Plake tagged along on our trip, so that was a blast. It was super fun to ski with a guy who’s such an industry icon and to learn from him and draw from his experience.
Tell us about Glen Plake.
A.J.: Glen Plake is the most famous mohawk in skiing.
Marcus: He was a mogul skier. He was in all the original Greg Stump films and a bunch of Warren Miller films. He’s the guy who kind of started what we do. He’s the man.
You grew up watching him. So what was it like to actually ski with him in a movie?
A.J.: It was everything I’d hoped it would be. He is everything that he exudes on camera—that’s not an act. He is just a to-the-core skier and he loves it.
Marcus: I was pretty jealous [laughter]; I didn’t ski with him. It’s funny—the director called me up and said, ‘We’re going up to Canada. Do you know A.J. Oliver?’ I was like, ‘No way. Yes. How do I get on this trip?’” I never did.
A.J.: You were thinking you might be able to be the tripod guy there for a minute.
Marcus: I was trying to go hold bags just so I could go hang out.
What were your favorite parts of filming Timeless?
I was with these two World Cup slalom skiers, they were skiing these big mountains for the first time, and that was really cool. I look up to them.—Marcus Caston, Rowmark PG 2007–2009
A.J.: Skiing with Glen was definitely a takeaway. Just being able to be around him and draw from that experience. It’s super cool to hear his stories and all the places he’s been. The Monashees are cool, though. It was some new terrain and that’s always fun. It’s a blast getting to do stuff you haven’t done before. It was fun to explore the Monashees, because those are the Rocky Mountains. They know how to do it in Canada.
Marcus: I got to film with Erin Mielzynski, who races World Cup for Canada, and Mattias Hargin, who is a Swedish World Cup slalom skier—he won the Kitzbuehel slalom and just recently retired. This was their first film shoot, too. So I was with these two World Cup slalom skiers, they were skiing these big mountains for the first time, and that was really cool. I look up to them. Mattias is a good freeskier. Erin grew up in eastern Canada ski racing on this little hill. She never goes freeskiing, so it was really cool to see somebody who, skiing is their entire life, and they get to experience the sport in a different way. So that was the highlight of my trip for me, was to watch Erin experience a different side of skiing.
Why should people see this movie?
Marcus: It’s the kickoff to winter. Some people have been coming out every year for 50 years—it’s tradition. There’s something for everybody. It’s a great adventure, there’s amazing cinematography, and it’s just fun.
A.J.: Seeing a Warren Miller film really embodies the community that is our industry. Any time that we can have a nice social gathering around skiing, that’s always a good thing.
What are your future skiing goals and plans?
That’s one of the great things about this sport. If you do it for life you get addicted to that pursuit of always getting better.—A.J. Oliver ’07
A.J.: That’s always a tough one to answer because it’s the ever-changing answer. Things are always evolving. But in five to 10 years, hopefully I’m still teaching skiing and trying to get better. That’s one of the great things about this sport. If you do it for life you get addicted to that pursuit of always getting better. So my goals for five to 10 years from now are to still be learning and growing, and hopefully spending as many days on snow as I can.
Marcus: I’m down with short-term goals.
A.J.: Like, what am I going to eat for breakfast? [Laughs]
Marcus: If you’re like, ‘In five years I’m going to be right here,’ then you might have an opportunity that you miss. Whereas if you’re living in the moment, you may take more in.
A.J.: Goal-setting with Marcus and A.J.
What do you do in the off-season for training and for fun?
A.J.: I try to wrap my training and my fun up in the same activity. I’ve been trying to stay in shape and not have to go to the gym. In the off-season I do a lot of mountain biking. I ride my horse a fair amount, which isn’t the most aerobic thing in the world. But when you’re hiking around the woods and running around the backcountry all summer, that usually keeps you in shape.
Marcus: Horseback riding is good for your legs, though, right?
A.J.: Yeah, it is a lot of lower-body strength. I also do a little bit of rock climbing when this guy will drag me.
Hiking and climbing are also really good mentally. Skiing can be scary, so if you can scare yourself every once in awhile in the summer, it’s not so scary when you get back on skis.—Marcus Caston
Marcus: I do a lot of hiking and climbing. It’s nice to stay outside and in the mountains. Hiking and climbing are also really good mentally. Skiing can be scary, so if you can scare yourself every once in awhile in the summer, it’s not so scary when you get back on skis.
What advice do you have for Rowmarkers and other young skiers who want to do what you do?
A.J.: The biggest thing is just staying in it—having the resolve to be in skiing and the industry and not have anything else be an option. If you’re in it for long enough, people decide to do other stuff and they fall away. But if you’re committed to it, things are going to happen for you. It’s definitely a small and welcoming industry if you have the drive to be part of it.
Marcus: Love skiing and love whatever it is you do. Making movies is not easy. It’s hard and it’s cold. Sometimes it gets really tough—you can be sitting there waiting for the light for two hours. I was in Norway a couple of years ago and we were on top of this mountain and the clouds came in. We had to build an igloo, and we sat in this little igloo, freezing for six hours because we couldn’t see anything. You just have to remind yourself why you’re there: because you love skiing and everything that comes with it—the traveling and all the people. And that’s not just for skiing, that’s everything. Just love what you do. And advice to Rowmarkers would be enjoy it now because life gets harder...It’s still fun, but not as fun.
A.J.: Don’t take it too seriously now because you’ll have plenty of time to be serious when you get older. Have fun.
Top: A.J. Oliver skis in Timeless. (Photo by SkyScope)
We are thrilled to announce three Rowmark Ski Academy alumnae have been named to the 2018–2019 US Ski & Snowboard Alpine Team. Named to the A Team are Breezy Johnson '13 and postgraduate Alice McKennis '08. Katie Hensien '18 has been named to the C Team. This is Breezy's fourth year on the team, Alice's seventh year, and Katie's second year.
According to Rowmark Academy Program Director Todd Brickson, "Alice, Breezy, and Katie were all model Rowmarkers and we couldn't be more proud to have them represent Rowmark as members of the US Ski Team. Most importantly, all three athletes are kind, humble, and incredibly hard working and have earned everything that has come their way. To kick off the season, Katie starts in her third World Cup SL race in Killington, Vermont, next week as one of the youngest members of the US Team and we look forward to cheering her on."
Selection criteria for the US Alpine Team is based on results and rankings from the 2017–2018 season. To read the full alpine team roster announcement, visit the US Ski Team webpage.
Troy Price, Rowmark Ski Academy's beloved junior program director since 2010, in May added national accolades to his already long list of accomplishments. US Ski and Snowboard named him the 2018 Development Coach of the Year, one of only two top coaching awards they bestow annually.
US Ski and Snowboard initially selected Troy as the 2018 Alpine Domestic Coach of the Year, one of 14 silver-level coaching awards for various disciplines, including snowboarding, cross country, and ski jumping. From that group of 14 winners, only one is picked to receive the gold-level, cross-discipline honor of Development Coach of the Year.
Neither Troy nor Rowmark Director Todd Brickson knew Intermountain Division (IMD) Director Carma Burnett had nominated Troy for the initial award. Appropriately enough, Troy learned he'd won that title while he was at Canada's Whistler Cup overseeing the Western Region's U14 team—a team that existed thanks in part to his vision. With his award, Troy joins a list of past winners whom he considers legends within the sport. "It's a little humbling to be on there," he said.
Not everyone's as modest: Rowmark Director Todd Brickson said Troy was "so deserving" of the recognition. Troy loves what he does, cares deeply, and is intelligent and well-organized, Todd said. "Not only is he directing our junior program and driving really sound athlete development within Rowmark," Todd said, "but Troy is reaching out beyond our program to make our division better. It therefore makes our program better. And now he's also creating regional projects and philosophies that make the whole West better." That big-picture scope is rare, Todd said, and ultimately benefits skiing at the national level too.
US Ski and Snowboard summarized Troy's efforts in a news release: "He established the division's development committee nine years ago and has served as committee chair since its inception, playing a key role in managing development projects, running the Tri-Divisional Championships," and fielding the regional team for the Whistler Cup. And in her nomination letter, Carma wrote that "Troy IS Development in the IMD Alpine Division." Read her letter here.
"I hope I have been able to convey how passionate and amazing Troy Price is when it comes to developing athletes," Carma concluded her letter. "He pays as much attention to the 'elite' athletes as he does to the 'last pick.' IMD is fortunate to have his energy and input."
Rowmark and Rowland Hall alumna Sofia Yubero '17 has known Troy since she was seven years old, and as a seventh grader started at Rowmark Junior under his direction. Some of the IMD events she and her peers got to compete in wouldn't have existed without Troy, she explained. And of course, he goes above and beyond in his leadership roles: "Even if he's running the race, he's cycling the chairlift and bringing food and drinks to all the other volunteers," she said. "He's extremely organized and knows how to achieve his agenda. No one works harder for what they want than Troy, and he's a true role model."
Immediately above: Troy Price (far left, bottom) with his Rowmark Junior crew in March. Top of page: Troy Price, right, with US Ski and Snowboard Chairman Dexter Paine during the Chairman's Awards Dinner in Park City May 3.
At Rowmark, Troy focuses on the athlete as a whole, from ski racing to good sportsmanship to academics. One career highlight, for instance, came when rising sophomore Tommy Hoffman, as a seventh grader, won the region's first U14 event—an event Troy had proposed. "To have a Rowmark kid win it, that was awesome," he said. But what was so memorable about the event was how Tommy took the initiative to shake the hands of the other top-10 finishers before stepping onto his podium. "He showed respect to his competitors," Troy said. "That sportsmanship was a true reflection of our program."
Troy's positive, inclusive coaching style and inimitable work ethic has absolutely benefitted Rowmark, Todd said. "When Troy first took the job, our junior program wasn't really a feeder program," the director said. "We would gain zero to one or two kids moving into our junior program for the academy and had to recruit most of our skiers from all over the country and internationally." But as a result of Troy's work, the junior program has become a primary feeder for the academy, and skiers coming from the junior program are well-prepared to meet the demands of the Rowmark/Rowland Hall lifestyle.
Troy doesn't mince words: he's put in long days to achieve his myriad goals. It helps that he's eerily organized—he holds an accounting degree from Weber State University and worked in that field before leaving to pursue his coaching passion. Though he switched careers, accounting strategies stuck with him: "There are a few coaches out there who nicknamed me Mr. Spreadsheet," Troy joked. But even the spreadsheets hold deeper meaning for Troy. Once he's formed a relationship with a Rowmarker or any IMD skier, he keeps an eye on their careers. "It's exciting when I'm creating a ranking sheet and I see an athlete succeed or make a championship event, and I know I may have had a small impact in that."
And it's just that: at the root of it all, Troy is an amazing coach who knows how to motivate his skiers. "During each of the last three years in a row, Troy's U14 athletes have qualified for the U16 Nationals," Carma wrote in her letter. "More so they continue to have success as they advance their ski-racing journey."
Sofia can vouch for Troy's impactfulness. She took a postgraduate year and is currently recovering from injuries, but hopes to ski for Middlebury College, where she'll be a freshman in the fall. "I definitely wouldn't be the person or athlete I am today if it weren't for Troy," she said. "He's been in my life for so long, and we've spent so much time together that he's essentially like a second father to me. But besides our close, personal connection, as a coach, he taught me about the value of work ethic and the importance of goal setting. There's nothing like grueling workouts in the summer and fall heat, but somehow Troy always made us excited to work towards our in-season goals that were months away."
And through his coaching style and his talent, Troy simply inspires a love for the sport, Sofia said. She still remembers sprinting against him during physical testing when she was younger: "Following him on a powder day around Snowbasin is one of the best things because he knows the mountain so well," she said. "Plus, he's an insane skier. I loved skiing behind him and trying to mimic his every move." Troy cultivated a fun atmosphere, Sofia explained, because he knows the competition aspect of the sport eventually comes to an end. Rather, he focuses on the promise that "if our love of skiing is strong enough, we—his athletes—will continue to ski for the rest of our lives."