Basketball and skiing are like apples and oranges. They're different, but legendary basketball coach John Wooden's definition of success provides the foundation upon which Sun Valley freestyle coach Andy Ware is building his program.
"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of being," Wooden said.
If you are picking a mentor, the Wizard of Westwood is right up there at the top. That's where Ware would like to see his skiers this during the 2009-10 winter season.
Ware said, "I'm trying to create athletes and skiing is their athletic expression. The basics of the freestyle team are to turn. A lot of skiers can make long turns but we need to make short turns well. There is nothing off limits to us. We ski park, pipes, groomers and bowls. I want to create a total skier that does not shy away from a run if it has bumps on it."
In his second year as program director and 11th season with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Ware has the dedicated athletes it takes to climb both the podium and Wooden's famed "pyramid of success."
< Shane Cordeau, 23, a member of the SVSEF Olympic Development Team, was named to the U.S. C Team this year. He recently won a moguls event at Winter Park, Colo. Also returning for a post-graduate year is Trace Page.
Tai Barrymore, 2009 Junior Olympic halfpipe champion, and Colter Brehmer, the Intermountain Division champion who finished 12th in the national halfpipe, head up a 19-member Comp Team.
"Both Colter and Tai are incredibly fearless," Ware said. "They're very progressive in the way they ski and like to try new things."
Returning Junior Olympic qualifiers include Ben Parker, Zana Davey, Joey Richardson, Nathan Moses, Alysha Herich and Adam Vorsteveld. Skiing on Baldy seems to give them a competitive edge.
"Baldy breeds a skier who can ski any kind of terrain and handle any kind of competition," Ware said. "In general, they have a level of confidence that I don't see skiers from other mountains having."
Ware is encouraged by Sun Valley Co.'s new terrain park and revamped superpipe to have high hopes for his team members this season.
"Prior to the parks we trained by hitting cat tracks," he said. "We would show up at events and take every chance we could to train, train, train.
"Now we are the second pipe in the country to be open and it is the best-maintained pipe in the country. Building and getting these facilities open early means so much for the team and shows a lot of dedication from Sun Valley Co. Our results are only going to go up exponentially."
Terrain is only half the equation—or one square in the success pyramid—Ware said.
Other facets are strategizing, short-term goals, long-term goals, training, nutrition and schoolwork.
"Every trip we go on, the skier needs to know what he is working on, whether it is a trick they are going to throw, or what type of homework they have," Ware said. "They need to be aware of the weather and where we are going. If they are prepared, they are going to compete better and it's going to be more fun."
So far, so good.
"The training so far for both teams has been awesome to see," he said. "We have so many kids on prep and comp that are in middle school, and they are just sponges right now."