Worrell to lead Crested Butte tech program
Former Team Summit alpine director Rob Worrell, who resigned as a coach with the local ski club after his contract was not renewed last month, has been named head technical coach at Crested Butte Academy. Beginning July 1, he will work with one of the industry’s legends, Warren Witherell, to help build the West’s first high school ski academy powerhouse.Witherell, who founded Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont in 1970 and thus began the sports academy movement in the East, was recently coaxed out of retirement to take over the reigns at CBA as headmaster. He said he couldn’t have been happier to learn that the services of Worrell – and his wife Anje, also a former Team Summit coach – were up for grabs.”When I heard that they resigned, I went straight to the telephone and called them up,” said Witherell, who helped bring Burke to prominence in the East by leading a program that sent nearly 100 skiers to the U.S. Ski Team. “I asked them to come down for an interview that day; they couldn’t, but they did the day after. It took me five minutes to find out that I wanted them on my staff.”We were fully staffed, but you don’t pass up the chance to get these kinds of people.”
For the Worrells, it was a match made in heaven. Since Rob Worrell resigned from Team Summit under bitter circumstances – because of a number of philosophical differences between him and the club’s higher-ups, he was offered a position worth half the money and substantially less benefits – he had wavered back and forth on where to go next.With a large backing of parents who were considering other options for their children, Worrell began to explore the option of founding a new Summit County ski club, Team X, which would have potentially competed with Team Summit and Quantum Sports Club. Because of looming financial hurdles, however, Team X lost steam and is still only an outside possibility. The Crested Butte Academy position was the perfect opportunity.
“It’s totally a step up for me,” said Rob Worrell, who will team with renowned speed coach Kent Rychel at CBA to build the school’s program and reputation. “I’ve always dreamed of living in Crested Butte. I couldn’t have lucked into a better position.”In part because of the town, but perhaps more because of his new boss. Largely held to be an innovator with few peers in skiing, Witherell is one of only two athletes to have been inducted into two sports’ halls of fame (he is enshrined for water skiing and snow skiing). The legendary Jim Brown, a member of the lacrosse and football halls of fame, is the other.Witherell had been retired for nearly a decade when he was contacted to take over at CBA, and although the 69-year-old had a life to be yearned for – he said he’d spent his recent years water skiing and reading and writing in Florida – he took the chance to make his mark once again.
“I don’t do mediocrity,” he said. “The first rule to building a strong ski program and strong school is getting really good people. That’s why I got the Worrells.”Witherell said he’s already had eight skiers inquire about attending CBA because he hired the Worrells, and he expects the trend to continue.Asked how he feels his school will compete with Rowmark Academy in Utah, largely held to be the West’s closest rival to the eastern ski academy prep powers in New England, Witherell said, “Why should kids be leaving (Colorado) to go to Rowmark? Because nobody’s put together a really bona fide, first-rate program with great academics, great ski training and a strong school community. Well, I’m doing it.”Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at email@example.com.
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