Culture and team atmosphere leads Team Summit to first-ever national award

The Team Summit Alpine program poses for a photo during a day of training. Team Summit's Alpine program was recently awarded "Alpine Club of the Year" by U.S. Ski and Snowboard for the program's culture and drive towards excellence during the 2021-22 winter season.
Team Summit/Courtesy photo

Team Summit had a winter season to remember during the 2021-22 ski and snowboard competition season. The Summit County-based sports club dominated not only in local competitions but also excelled at the regional and national levels. 

The Team Summit Alpine program especially stood out this past winter season. Most notably, the program, which is directed by Aldo Radamus, saw three athletes make U16 nationals. 

Stella Buchheister led the way for the Team Summit skiers placing second overall at nationals in the women’s competition while Jevin Palmquist placed third overall on the men’s side. Niko Leunig also competed at nationals but despite impressive individual performances did not finish on the podium.

Additionally, Team Summit and the Alpine program were recognized for having the third highest number of elite athletes in the country.

It was in large part because of these accolades that the Team Summit Alpine program received national recognition for its work throughout the season. 

National awards of any type are a huge honor but the award tends to mean even more when it comes from the head of all things snow sports in the United States — U.S. Ski and Snowboard. 

On June 16, following the annual U.S. Ski and Snowboard Club Excellence Conference in Park City, Utah, the Alpine program at Team Summit was awarded the “Alpine Club of the Year” award

The award is the highest honor achievable for a specific program and marks the first time Team Summit had ever been recognized at the national level.

“I was surprised and quite honored to be named Alpine club of the year,” said C.B. Bechtel, executive director of Team Summit. “There are a lot of great ski teams in our country, and it’s been a long road getting to the level we are at and it’s nice to be recognized for the work we have been putting in.”

It was five seasons ago when Bechtel became the executive director of Team Summit, and since then he has seen both the Alpine program and the entire club transform.

“When I came to Team Summit we didn’t have any permanent training spaces in Summit County,” Bechtel said. “Both Keystone and Copper Mountain have really stepped up for the Alpine team in particular to create venues where we are able to provide a training environment that is appropriate for high-performance training.”

Team Summit’s Stella Buchheister competes at the 2022 U.S Ski and Snowboard U16 Alpine National Championships in April 2022. Buchheister led the way for Team Summit placing second overall in the women’s competition and bringing national attention to the Team Summit Alpine program.
Team Summit/Courtesy photo

Bechtel also noted that the Alpine program has steadily improved due to the strong coaching curriculum of Radamus and the staff he has built around him. Over the years skiers have steadily moved up the competition ranks in response to the coaching and passion of Radamus.

Although having a successful showing at U16 Alpine Nationals was a big focal point of the season, Radamus and his staff believe the entire program has something to celebrate.

“One of the things that I and the rest of our staff is proud of is that we have a wide range of abilities and interest levels within the Alpine program and Team Summit,” Radamus said. “It’s really that whole range of kids that are valued equally for the effort they put in.”

The appreciation for every athlete leads to a strong culture within Team Summit and the ability for athletes to find their own level of success. Both are reasons why U.S. Ski and Snowboard decided to recognize the 2021-22 Team Summit Alpine program.  

“It really starts at the top with the organization and one of the personal tenets of Team Summit are personal podiums,” Radamus said. “And then reinforcing that with the coaches and having that 360-degree respect among all the members of our community.”

“A big part of our culture is personal podiums that we apply not only to skiing and snowboarding but skills and academics as well,” Bechtel said of one of the club’s core philosophies. “Personal podiums allow kids to set benchmarks for themselves that stretches them and creates mindsets that they need to push themselves.” 

Whether an athlete’s goal is to make the Olympics or learn a new trick, Team Summit offers a space for athletes to find their own definition of success all while being supported by their team. 

“There is a real camaraderie around the athletes,” Bechtel said. “The kids are out there encouraging each other and cheering each other on to their own level of success.”

A specific example of this occurred this past winter when an athlete who came to Team Summit from another club was blown away by the support of his new teammates. Whether the athlete was at the front of the pack or the back, his teammates were there for support during his ski run — which wasn’t the standard at his previous club.

The result of these instilled club values is that Team Summit feels like a family. Whether kids are winning medals on the slope, or on the mountain bike trail there is a sense of pride that comes when an athlete puts on a Team Summit racing bib or T-shirt. 

Team Summit hasn’t only seen success with their ski and snowboard programs, but also in their mountain bike program this summer. Team Summit has been dominant at local mountain bike races, piling up several podium finishes at Summit Mountain Challenge races and the Firecracker 50 on the Fourth of July.

For Bechtel and Radamus, the Alpine Club of the Year award is just beginning for the Alpine program and Team Summit. In terms of the potential of Team Summit, both Bechtel and Radamus firmly believe that the ceiling isn’t within reach.

“We are still very young as a team,” Radamus said. “The older athletes are all first and second-year Federation of International Skiing eligible athletes with some athletes moving into that age of racing next season. The improvements across the board are still ahead for every one of the kids and that is what is so exciting.”

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