Summit Skimo Club launches successful youth ski mountaineering team thanks to $30,000 in donations for gear costs |

Summit Skimo Club launches successful youth ski mountaineering team thanks to $30,000 in donations for gear costs

Summit Skimo Club hopes to grow youth participation in the coming winters

John McDonald, left, Ashley Adkins, center, and Anna Stafford begin a ski mountaineering sprint race at the Frisco Tubing Hill on Tuesday, Feb. 28. Alongside 21 other athletes, the trio participated in the inaugural Summit Youth Skimo ski mountaineering season.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

It is no secret that the youth in Summit County are exceptionally active. In fact, the vast majority of Summit County students who participate in sports often play multiple sports within a calendar year — or even the same season.

This winter, the county’s youth had another option to participate in since Summit Skimo Club, a local nonprofit, launched the Summit Youth Skimo team during the 2022-23 winter season. For those who aren’t familiar, skimo is a nickname for ski mountaineering, where participants ascend and descend slopes on skis, combining uphill and downhill disciplines.

With Summit Skimo Club President Eric Broecker and head coach Mike Hagen at the helm, the team officially formed in October 2022 with 24 athletes from local schools.

“That is the main mission: keeping them active,” Broecker said. “A lot of our kids play summer, fall and spring sports, but they don’t have a lot of aerobic activity during the winter getting them out after school and showing them how to uphill tour and stuff like that.”

Broecker said the inaugural Summit Youth Skimo team saw widespread success with a total of six high school athletes and 18 middle school athletes participating in the program throughout the entirety of the winter season.

Broecker says the biggest hurdle for the newly formed team — and ski mountaineering as a sport in general — was trying to find a way to provide affordable skis for the kids to use throughout the winter season.

A complete ski mountaineering setup is similar in cost to a downhill skiing and snowboarding setup. A pair of good skis costs close to $1,000, and when you factor in boots, specialized bindings, poles and a helmet the average cost per participant approaches $2,500 at retail price.

“I felt like that was the biggest hurdle,” Broecker said. “If we could raise enough money to purchase 21 pairs of skis and then lend them out to the kids for the season, we could run a successful program that way.”

With the help from regional and local companies or donors, the Summit Youth Skimo team raised $30,000 to purchase all of the gear needed for the team’s athletes.

“The mission was to make it accessible to all the kids,” Broecker said. “Parents don’t know how to buy equipment like this. They don’t even know where to start. (We) thought we would give it to them for the season and get them hooked that way.”

With the proper equipment needed to run a successful youth program, the Summit Youth Skimo team then started meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Dec. 1 through the team’s final practice on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Throughout the three-month window of twice-a-week practices, athletes weren’t just coached by Hagen and Broecker. Brooke Haynes, Scott Wescott and Teague Holmes also helped out.

With most practices taking place at the Frisco Tubing Hill, the Gold Run Nordic Center or Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Peak 8, members of the team quickly learned or freshened up on the fundamentals of the sport.

By the end of the season, Broecker says that the entirety of the team showed an interest in ski mountaineering.

“Some of these kids have no interest in racing at all,” Broecker said. “They just want to go through a skin track in the woods with their friends. I would say three-quarters of them are that way, and we have a quarter of the kids who want to get into the race scene. It was fun to see that as well.”

The final practice on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the Frisco Tubing Hill and Day Lodge served as the team’s final practice before the spring sport season starts ramping up, and the team got the opportunity to compete in a sprint-style ski mountaineering race, which is set to make its return to the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Italy. The race allowed athletes to display their ski mountaineering skills in front of their family. At the conclusion of the races, a dinner party alongside a raffle was hosted in the lodge.

Broecker and his fellow coaches were extremely satisfied with the first season. Not only did the team accomplish its mission of providing an affordable activity to keep Summit’s kids active in the winter, but many of the kids also chose to keep their borrowed skis over the next few weeks in order to ski with their parents or compete in local ski mountaineering races.

With one season under its belt, the Summit Youth Skimo team hopes to expand its offerings and see more athletes come next winter season.

“Next year, going into it, we are going to do the same thing,” Broecker said. “Now we have some historical facts and figures that we can present to these companies. I don’t think it is going to be a problem to raise another 30 grand and another 21 pairs of skis. If we can get double the growth — I think that’s impossible — but if we get 30 athletes instead of 20 that would be great.”

The Summit Skimo Club and Summit Youth Skimo team said they appreciate Hagan Ski Mountaineering, Dynafit, Mountain Outfitters, Gore Range Sports,, Copper Mountain Resort, Breckenridge Grand Vacations, Delta Solutions, Recentric Realty, Turner Morris Roofing, Campbell Construction and other anonymous donors for their support over the winter.

To find out information about next winter’s Summit Youth Skimo team, email Eric Broecker at

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