The Loveland Ski Club will take another big step forward this season. The club announced at the end of September that it’s hired former U.S. Ski Team coach Josh Applegate to take over as the club’s head coach.
Applegate will join club director John Hale and women’s coach Troy Watt to make a trio of club officials with U.S. Ski Team backgrounds — Hale as a coach and Watt as a former World Cup competitor.
Together Hale and Applegate have coached some of the top skiers in the world, including Ted Ligety and Lindsey Vonn.
“Being able to add Troy last year and Josh this year represents a gigantic move forward,” said Hale, who’s in his fourth year with the club. “We have a great blend of experience as athletes and as coaches. The impact that will have on the program will be tremendous.”
When the club, which has alpine programs for skiers of all ages, gets back on the snow at Loveland it will be sharing lanes with some of the top athletes in the world as club officials expect a number of athletes to take advantage of early season training opportunities at the ski area.
“We are almost booked already,” club program manager Jennifer Ryan said, regarding fall lane training. The club, in association with Loveland Ski Area, rents training lane space to a variety of groups, from international teams to other national ski programs. Hale anticipates some U.S. Ski Team members will be training at Loveland prior to the opening of the team’s speed center at Copper Mountain, Nov. 1.
For club members it means training shoulder to shoulder and sharing locker rooms with some of the best in the world.
Of Applegate’s hiring, Hale said, “He was working with the top male technical skiers in the country. He comes in with a great background and experience there.”
Applegate spent seven years coaching with the U.S. team, including the developmental, U.S. World Cup and Olympic teams.
“I’ve always wanted to get back to the development level,” Applegate said. “The opportunity that John presented me was a fantastic opportunity. It’s great to be a part of a team that is trying to do it the right way.”
“We coached together on the (U.S.) Ski Team,” Hale said. “He was looking for opportunities, and I got ahold of him right away.”
The hire is another big addition to the staff and another step in the program’s recent growth.
“I think it’s great,” Ryan said. “The ties between Loveland and the U.S. Ski Team are clearly developing.”
Last year Hale was able to invite guest speakers, including Applegate and downhill star Mikeala Shiffrin, through his U.S. Ski Team ties.
The coaching hire was clearly well received by club members and parents.
“It would be like John Fox of the Broncos coming to coach your high school football team,” club parent Andrew Berget said. “I’m absolutely blown away that someone with his resume has chosen Loveland.”
Berget also spoke to the value that the club offers its members. “It’s almost half of competing tuition rates.”
The club includes full-time and part-time membership options, and Ryan says there are still opportunities to join. Many full-time members train as many as five days a week and have made arrangements with their home school districts to do so, Hale said.
The club plans to begin on-snow training in mid-October but Hale is optimistic that recent cold temperatures and snowmaking may make an earlier start possible. Berget speculated as early as next week.
Applegate’s hiring ties into Hale’s plan to continue to expand affordable ski training opportunities for Summit and Front Range residents.
“Coming to Loveland three years ago, my goal was to create one of the premiere training opportunities for aspiring athletes. With the addition of both Josh and Troy and the growth of the rest of the staff, we have really come to realize that vision. I couldn’t be more excited about the years ahead.”
While the focus of the club is on the competitive disciplines of alpine skiing — slalom, giant slalom, super G and downhill — Hale hopes to expand the freeride team program in years to come.
More information on the Loveland ski club can be found at www.lovelandskiclub.com.