U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), and Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC) announced the creation of the Paralympic Development Programme - Aspen, the first Paralympic Development Programme for Alpine Skiing in the United States.
Kevin Jardine, head coach of the USOC's Paralympic Veterans Alpine Skiing Programme, which includes injured military and veteran athletes, will work collaboratively with AVSC in leading this joint effort. "I'm proud to be part of this first collaborative Paralympic ski racing programme in the country," said Jardine.
Together, the USOC and AVSC will provide coaching and training support to military, veteran and non-veteran Paralympic athletes. The team will also train alongside able-bodied athletes during the course of the season.
"The announcement of this partnership is due to outstanding leadership at AVSC," said Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics, USOC. "Together our goals are to provide more opportunities for kids, injured service members and veterans to excel in skiing, hopefully culminating in podium finishes at future Paralympic Games. By partnering, we can increase our impact and reach, making the programme extremely cost efficient with a focus on excellence."
"We're excited to welcome Kevin, the other talented staff and the outstanding athletes associated with Paralympic skiing here in Aspen to be part of this joint USOC/AVSC Paralympic Development Programme," said AVSC Executive Director Mark Cole. "We appreciate the fact that Houston and Challenge Aspen incubated the precursor to this programme for several years and we're honored to be the ones entrusted to take it to the next level."
"Challenge Aspen has offered recreational programmes for people with a disability for over 15 years and we support and applaud this natural transition of Team AVSC and U.S. Paralympics joining forces to create the first Paralympic Development Programme for elite athletes with physical disabilities," said Executive Director of Challenge Aspen Houston Cowan.
The programme is based in Aspen and athletes will compete in the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) North American Cup races throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Non-veteran athletes training in the programme include:
Joe Tompkins (Juneau, Alaska)
Tyler Walker (Franconia, N.H.)
Laurie Stephens (Wenham, Mass.)
Sylvie Fadrhonc (Basalt, Colo.)
Scott Meyer (Frisco, Colo.)
Nick Doeffinger (Morgantown, West Va.)
Jennifer Frame (Irving, Calif.)
James Ross (Girdwood, Ark.)
Military and veteran athletes training in the programme include:
Eddie Alverez (Prescott, Ariz./U.S. Army - ret.)
Latseen Benson (Houston Texas/U.S. Army - ret.)
Heath Calhoun (Clarksville, Tenn./U.S. Army - ret.)
Chris Devlin Young (Campton, N.H./U.S. Coast Guard - ret.)
Derrick Mertowski (Buffalo, N.Y./National Guard)
Casey Owens (Houston, Texas/U.S. Marine Corps - ret.)
Travis Strong (Golden, Colo./U.S. Army - ret.)