All in His Stride
By Dan Greeson
Former U.S. Ski Team coach Adam Chadbourne with Olympic skier Ted Ligety at the 2005 U.S. National Championships at Mammoth Mountain, California. Photo by Jonathan Selkowitz/Selko Photo
Adam Chadbourne did not go home after spring break this year. He was in Florida on a family vacation when he got a call from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club offering him the coveted position of Alpine competitive director. It was the end of April and the job was supposed to start on May 15. The self-professed type A personality got into his car and drove west. He actually arrived early and started work on May 1.
“I looked at the scope of work and thought, ‘There is no way I can wait another couple of weeks,’ so the family went home as planned and I drove out,” Chadbourne says. His wife, Alison, and their daughters, Emma, 9, and Anya, 7, moved from their home in New Hampshire in the summer to join him.
Chadbourne, who started skiing competitively in his late teens, does not feel daunted by the legacy of his predecessors. The only non-Olympian to take the mantle in decades, he brings a different skill-set to the table. “Adam knows how to develop great ski racers, and his approach is one that I think our families who value the development of the whole person will appreciate,” Says Jon Nolting, SSWSC athletic director.
Chadbourne attended Bates College and skied at a collegiate level – something he set his sights on while growing up in a town of 800 people in western Maine.
He has 20 years’ experience at the elite level, including three years for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association and three years as a head coach of the U.S. Ski Team. He was the youngest head coach the team had hired, and he worked with Olympic medalists including Ted Ligety, Andrew Weibrecht and Mikaela Shiffrin. He traveled 250 days a year for training camps and competitions. The level of travel took its toll, and Chadbourne moved on to work as the alpine director at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. However, he still spent a lot of time on the road.
As a father of two, he longed for more time at home.
“I’ve explored my career aspirations and it’s not about climbing, it’s about fulfillment,” he says.
He was working for Waterville Valley Academy and the Waterville Valley Ski Club as the athletic director when two NCAA coaches called him to say SSWSC was looking for a new Alpine director. “Both told me how much potential there was between the club itself, Howelsen Hill and the new Stevens Family Race Venue,” Chadbourne says. “I was intrigued as I wanted to return strictly to working solely in Alpine sports rather than overseeing other snowsports. When I came out for the interview, I was struck by how welcoming Steamboat is.”
“The program is full of great coaches, and I see my role as working to bring everyone together as much as possible,” he says. Chadbourne has his hands full balancing the logistics of training spaces, coaches and surface preparation – plus getting to know over 500 kids currently enrolled in Alpine programs.
On his days off, it will be Chadbourne’s own kids on the tails of his skis when he navigates Mount Werner this winter – something he’s been excited to do after hiking and biking it in summer. “I’m happiest when I’m with my girls,” he says, smiling.