With a long history of Olympic ties, Waterville Valley Resort will once again figure into many storylines that will develop at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The United States Olympic Committee has named six WVBBTS/WVA alumni to the 2018 US Olympic Team. That is a lot for a town of about 300 people.
Waterville Valley Academy alumna, Ashley Caldwell, will make the trip to South Korea to compete. Ashley is a freestyle skier who has competed since 2008. Caldwell was named to the US Team for the 2010 Winter Olympics in January 2010 after competing in the sport for only two seasons.
Snowboarder, Mike Trapp, will make his Olympic debut in the parallel giant slalom. Trapp’s coach, Justin Reiter, see his athlete’s success this way, “Mike has worked extremely hard to get here. I’m proud of his dedication to snowboarding and his never surrender attitude. You will not find a better example of a hard working blue-collar athlete out there. We are excited to take the first step in getting to the Games. Now we focus and work to bring home some hardware.”
Other 2018 Winter Olympians with a Waterville Valley connection include Kiley McKinnon (Aerials-A), Mac Bohonnon (Aerials-A), Eric Loughran (Aerials-B), and Annalisa Drew (Pro Halfpipe-Freeskiing).
And, Freydis Einarsdottir, a student at Plymouth State University who trains at Waterville Valley, will represent her home nation of Iceland at the Olympics.
The 2018 Winter Games will kick-off with the Opening Ceremonies on Friday, February 9th. The aerial events will take place during the first week of competition, February 15-18. The women’s halfpipe skiing event will take place on February 20th with the parallel giant slalom competition wrapping things up on February 24th.
The hard work and success of Waterville Valley athletes is not a surprise. Waterville Valley Resort is the birthplace of Freestyle skiing. Freestyle has revolutionized the sport of skiing, paving the way for the new generation of skiing rippers that grace the Waterville parks. Waterville Valley became the first ski area to offer freestyle instruction, with a freestyle program started in 1969-70s.
Freestyle skiing was introduced to the mountain during the 1969 World Cup races, making Waterville Valley a leader in this new and exciting sport. A few years later, Waterville Valley hosted the First National Open Championship of Freestyle Skiing and the WVBBTS ski club began offering freestyle skiing training. By the 1990s, it had fully embraced the sport by building the second freestyle terrain park in the North East.
Cross-country skiing also became a big part of the Waterville Valley ski culture. The U.S. Olympic Team trained in Waterville for the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan and the area hosted the U.S. National Cross Country Championships in 1979. Today, Waterville Valley’s Nordic Center features 75 km of wide-groomed trails with terrain for every ability level.
Resort visionary Tom Corcoran competed at the 1956 and 1960 winter Olympics, where he earned the highest ranking performance in the Giant Slalom for a U.S. male skier until he was topped by skier Bode Miller.
After Corcoran left the Olympic arena and completed an MBA from Harvard Business School, he headed west to Aspen to learn the ski resort business. In search of his own resort, he took a surveying flight over New Hampshire. On their way back home, the plane circled over Waterville Valley and Corcoran knew he had found the spot. “It was like a light bulb went off,” said Corcoran. When the plane touched the ground, Corcoran set up a meeting to discuss buying the land.
During the winter of 1965-66, Corcoran’s Waterville Company became the owner of the Waterville Inn and 425 acres on the valley floor. He negotiated a contract with the U.S. Forest Service, stewards of the mountain, to use the land on Mt. Tecumseh as a ski area. Corcoran and famed ski area designer, Sel Hannah, surveyed and mapped out the Waterville Valley ski area and began construction in February.
In 1971, U.S. Olympic Alpine and Nordic Ski Teams trained in Waterville Valley for the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. The valley’s original ski trail on Snow’s Mountain played host to dual giant slalom team races at night. In the same year, WVBBTS ski club quarters were constructed. Today, the Town of Waterville Valley remains home to the Waterville Valley Academy and WVBBTS. It is one of the leading training and competition centers in the United States, a Certified Gold Level Club, the first in the East to be named a Community Olympic Development Program, and in 2017 Waterville Valley Resort was designated a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Development Site.
WVBBTS/SEF operates Waterville Valley Academy, a snowsports and academic academy designed for full time student athletes in grades 6-12 who are dedicated to pursuing the highest level of performance in alpine racing, freestyle skiing and snowboarding in parallel with an individualized academic program.