Local skiers and snowboarders to represent Team Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY – The hottest skiers and riders in the area are known for their membership to the United States Ski and Snowboard teams, the Breckenridge Freeride Team, the Copper Mountain Freeride Team … but for the first time this season, a handful of select skiers in the state will also represent Team Colorado.
“Traditionally, Colorado has been marketed as a family destination,” said Vail resident Tom Winter, who runs the Colorado Freeride Series in Snowmass and who will function as Team Manager for Team Colorado, the 15-member team that is sponsored by Colorado Ski Country USA.
“We wanted to do something a little more core, a little more grassroots,” Winter said. “It’s a tougher consumer we’re appealing to. They’re not so much interested in skiing with dad, they’re into doing something a little hipper. These people (on Team Colorado), are people in magazines, in movies, so we want to spread the message about this side of Colorado.”
According to members of Team Colorado, the steep and daring aspects of Colorado’s terrain is often overlooked by skiers who frequent areas in Utah, California and Canada.
“Colorado gets a lot of bad-mouthing,” said Montezuma resident Rex Wehrman, who is one of four Summit County residents selected for Team Colorado. “People say it’s low-angle and kind of wimpy. But they just don’t know. They see pictures of nothing but groomers and they think that’s all there is. They’re misinformed.”
At 32, Wehrman is one of the older members of Team Colorado and has lived in the area significantly longer than some of the younger team members. He moved here in 1974, and his latest skiing accomplishments include being selected as one of the world’s top 50 freeskiers by Powder Magazine, winning the 2002 Freeride Championship and winning the U.S. Extreme Championships in Crested Butte. He also is a five-time winner of the Arapahoe Basin Enduro, one of the most intensive ski competitions anywhere, which takes place every year at A-Basin, Wehrman’s favorite stomping ground.
“(Team Colorado) is not a competing team,” said Kristin Rust, spokeswoman for Colorado Ski Country USA. “We just want to get these people’s names out and what they can do and associate it with Colorado. They were selected based on athletic ability, but also from the spirit of the athlete. We wanted to find someone who truly valued Colorado. All the resorts in Colorado support their athletes, what we’re trying to do is support them as a state.”
In addition to Wehrman, Team Colorado’s well-established members include Olympic medalist and U.S. Snowboard Team rider Gretchen Bleiler of Aspen and fellow U.S. Ski Team member Travis Mayer of Steamboat. Vail’s Megan Pischke also made the roster, as did Breckenridge freeski star Christopher Hawks.
A goal of Team Colorado was to include younger, “up-and-coming” competitors.
“One of the exciting things about this team is that we can help some of Colorado’s younger kids start to reach their potential,” said Rob Perlman, CEO of Colorado Ski Country. “The individuals on the team reflect the diversity and excellence that people associate with Colorado.”
Leslie Glenn, a 22-year-old snowboard instructor at Keystone, is an up-and-coming member of Team Colorado. She moved to Breckenridge straight out of college last season and is working her way up the results in snowboarding’s U.S. Open and Grand Prix events.
“I’m really excited,” Glenn said of her selection to Team Colorado. “I think it’s a great opportunity to promote Colorado. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Brent Meyer, one of the top snowboarders on the Copper Freeride Team and winner of the Kahlua halfpipe competition last year, is also on the team, as is skier Bryan Harris of Monarch and snowboarder Chris Albers, who, according to Winter, “came to Beaver Creek from South Dakota with $300 and a backpack.”
“We want to help these athletes who are out to achieve their goals, and also people who are crafty veterans,” Winter said. “We wanted to cast the geographical net fairly wide across Colorado. It would be easy to put together 15 athletes from Aspen, or Vail, or Crested Butte, but we wanted to pick people from places that are a little off the map, and also people who are already known as great athletes.”
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