Heavenly boosts its coaching roster with all-star cast
With Cory Harris and Chris McKean racing in Colorado’s Nor Ams against a full field of World Cup alpine ski racers, Heavenly Ski Education Foundation’s season shows lots of promise, particularly with a core of top skiers testing their skill as first-year coaches.
Harris, McKean and Danny Lear, who all raced giant slalom during the U.S. Alpine Nationals last year at Squaw Valley USA, will have the guidance of former Nor Am winner Wisi Betschart this year.
Betschart, 26, who also raced at nationals after attaining tenure status with the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, hung up the reins last spring.
Betschart, from South Lake Tahoe, began coaching Heavenly with dryland training starting last month.
Also coming back to her roots is Brooke Ballachey, a former U.S. Freestyle Ski Team moguls competitor. Ballachey, 23, from South Lake Tahoe, was third in 1999 World Cup duals points and silver and bronze in several World Cup races.
Also new to the coaching roster is Jim Halopoff, who won a gold medal for big air at the 1997 X Games and silver in slopestyle. He came back in ’99 to finish with a bronze in slopestyle. He’s also won numerous snowboarding events, including Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding.
“It’s exciting to see these types of people coming to the program. It’s a great opportunity for our kids,” said Noel Dufty, director of HSEF.
Betschart was a staple on the U.S. team during the late 90s, earning FIS and Nor Am podium finishes in the super-G and giant slalom, and also with strong finishes in downhill. Betschart recently spent a week with Heavenly’s Junior 1-2 Alpine skiers at Mammoth.
Among the skiers under Betschart’s wing are Lear, Harris and McKean, although he has only seen Lear ski since Harris and McKean began making the rounds at FIS races. The two will head to Winter Park, Colo., and Park City, Utah, before returning to Heavenly to get their first opportunity to learn on snow from their new coach.
Ballachey, who was at one time third in the world in dual moguls, will start her coaching career with the training team. But she will also coach the competitive team with head freestyle coach Jere Crawford on occasion.
“I definitely want the kids to benefit from her U.S. Ski Team experience,” Crawford said.
Ballachey, 23, said she learned the fundamental skills that allowed her to progress into the World Cup by skiing with the foundation.
Moreover, she said that Crawford was the coach that taught her to love the sport of skiing.
Also new in Heavenly’s freestyle department is the freeride team, which will be coached by Chris Eckert.
Eckert, 26, coached a similar program at Alpine Meadows last year.
Halopoff, in conjunction with head snowboard coach Ed McClain, will work with 35 snowboarders, including up-and-comer Elena Hight, who took home the highest combined finish for a U.S. youth in the Vodafone Snowboard Nations Junior Worlds last year.
Halopoff, 31, has been coaching South Shore Soldiers snowboard camps and has coached at Mount Hood, Ore. for several years.
“He’s got a ton of coaching experience in addition to being a top snowboard competitor for the last 15 years,” McClain said.
To learn more about the foundation, call (530) 541-7354.
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