A spectator favorite, the competitive discipline of ski cross is slated to return to the X Games in 2016 after a two-year hiatus. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) alumnus Chris DelBosco is a two-time ski cross Olympian, FIS World Champion and X Games gold medalist, and SSCV’s new ski cross program for U16 and U14 athletes will look to inspire those who hope to follow in DelBosco’s footsteps.
Starting this season, both full-time and part-time programs will be offered at SSCV. Training in the traditional alpine discipline of giant slalom, free skiing and skills development will be supplemented with work on start technique, jumping skills and side-by-side training using existing facilities.
Erik Steinberg, a Vail native since 1964, returns to (SSCV) as head coach of the ski cross program. Steinberg went on to compete at the University of Colorado where he was part of four NCAA National Championship teams and a First Team All-American in 1974. After two seasons racing in the first seed at the Europa Cup, he narrowly missed qualifying for the 1976 Olympic Team.
“While other clubs have organized Skicross activity – primarily providing support for elite-level competitors, or exposing athletes in alpine programs to Skicross course features and fundamentals – Vail’s new program is notable in that it will focus on two groups, U-16 and U-14 athletes,” wrote USSA Executive Vice President Athletics Luke Bodensteiner about the unique program. “And with the hiring of an experienced leader and coach in Erik Steinberg, Vail has signaled that they see a lot of potential in the sport.”
Hired by the U.S. Ski Team in 1979, first as a men’s assistant downhill coach and then women’s head downhill coach, Steinberg helped Billy Johnson win Olympic gold in 1984 and Doug Lewis win World Championship bronze in 1985. His women’s team made U.S. racing history in Vail in 1986 with a World Cup downhill win by Pam Fletcher and six Americans in the first 14 places. In total, he has coached 41 national champions.
From 1988 to 1993, Steinberg served as the Executive Director of Ski Club Vail before relocating to Steamboat Springs where he headed up the Billy Kidd Performance Center for seven years. His extensive experience as an athlete, coach and administrator will help create a fun, supportive environment for developing all-around and specific ski cross skills.
“Vail’s addition of a Skicross program will give young skiers more choice, and yet another unique avenue to enjoy competitive skiing. This program may also enhance athlete retention, giving young alpine competitors another avenue of participation if they – for whatever reason – stop their participation in alpine racing,” noted Bodensteiner. “Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Vail’s Skicross program targets athletes at roughly the same age as USSA and club athletes start their attrition from the sport.”
Watch junior level ski cross action from Switzerland: