Veteran U.S. Ski Team member and 3x Olympian Stacey Cook is excited to announce the talented young athletes who have been named to the 2015-16 Stacey Cook/Sun Valley Ski Tools Competition Team.
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CA (Sept. 23, 2015) – Veteran U.S. Ski Team member and 3x Olympian Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA) is excited to announce the talented young athletes who have been named to the 2015-16 Stacey Cook/Sun Valley Ski Tools (SVST) Competition Team. Scholarship recipients are chosen based on passion and dedication to the sport, community involvement and character.
The relationship between Cook and SVST runs deep, beginning when SVST was an original sponsor of Cook early in her career. “I think there were about six athletes that SVST said they’d choose to sponsor based on character rather than results, and then all six of us made the U.S. Ski Team," reflected Cook. "They had quite a bit of foresight.”
When Cook made the Team and had the support of a technician, she no longer needed the sponsorship of SVST, but she took this as an opportunity to create something that would help her give back to young athletes who needed the same support to propel their career forward. Cook approached SVST and asked that they partner up to create a scholarship program based on the same ideal: character before talent. SVST obliged and the program has grown since. “It is very rewarding for both SVST and me,” noted Cook.
Norma Vermillion, the owner of SVST, is equally appreciative of Cook's committment to young athletes. "I can’t tell you how much we appreciate Stacey and the amazing job she does with this program," said Vermillion. "Our staff here at Sun Valley Ski Tools are dedicated to the world of alpine ski racing. We know that for many athletes the costs to compete strain family budgets. We wish we had the means to help every single athlete that applies for Stacey’s scholarship."
Stacey Cook grabs a selfie with campers at the Stacey Cook and Friends Speed Camp she runs at Mammoth Mountain.
One character trait that sets Cook apart in the world of professional sports is her desire to give back to the same ski community that influenced her life in such a big way. She finds a way to manage all of this between travel to and from on-snow camps and conditioning to prepare for another season on the World Cup tour, enlisting the help of her teammates and friends to weigh in on applicants. It's a talented pool of applicants, which makes it a challenge for Cook and Vermillion to select the recipients. This year there were 72 applicants, and they were all qualified. Cook wishes she could reward every kid that applies.
Cook enlisted the help of teammates Alice McKennis and Mikaela Shiffrin to review scholarship applications on the way back from their on-snow camp in Chile.
Scholarship recipients receive everything from skis—donated by Cook’s new sponsor Stöckli thanks to George Couperthwait, General Manager Stöckli North America—to SVST tuning equipment and swag. “Stöckli is proud to sponsor Stacey in her endeavors to succeed as an athlete at an elite level,” said Couperthwait. “We are equally as proud of her efforts to try and make a difference in the sport and support young athletes with her scholarship programs. Stacey is showing us all that an athlete can do well and do good at the same time.”
The 2015-16 team boasts an impressive roster of athletes including those who have persevered to come back from injury, the first-ever ski cross athlete, and a young woman named Leslie Briscoe that applied on behalf of her high school team. In Briscoe's application, she mentioned she would use the scholarship to support her team instead of just herself. It was this selflessness that turned Cook’s head. “I thought that was very creative and generous and I loved the idea," said Cook. "I had so much fun racing for my high school team and it is a group within this sport that is very passionate, but often forgotten about. I'm really happy we can support those two schools this year.”
In a recent note to scholarship recipients, Cook wrote, “I am so proud of all of you and what you have accomplished in skiing and in life.”
2015-16 SVST COMPETITION TEAM (Name, Birth Year, Hometown, Ski Team)
AJ Hurt, ’00, Carnelian Bay, California, Squaw Valley Ski Team/NTG Bruno Amon-Franceschi, ’01, Los Angeles, California, Mammoth Mountain Ski Team Grace Stetsko, ’00, Lake Orion, Michigan, Pinnacle Ski Team Hunter Rodrick, ’98, Chappaqua, New York, Stratton Mountain School Mazie Hayden, ’00, Pittsfield, Vermont, Killington Mountain School Katie Collins, ’00, Vail, Colorado, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Natrona County High School and Kelly Walsh High School Ski Teams courtesy of Leslie Briscoe, ’99, Casper, Wyoming
Katie Collins was the recipient of the Stöckli scholarship and was awarded two pairs of Stöckli skis, thanks to George Couperthwait’s generous donation.
Mazie Hayden is the first-ever ski cross recipient.
The Natrona County and Kelly Walsh High Schools train and travel together although compete separately. The scholarship will be shared by the two schools and monitored by the joint head coach.
Rodrick, Hayden, Hurt, Stetsko, Amon-Franceschi and the Casper area high schools will each receive $500 worth of SVST tuning equipment, $500 of RaceService Wax as well as other SVST Scholarship swag.
QUOTES Norma Vermillion, Owner, Sun Valley Ski Tools It is a most difficult process each year to choose a few winners when virtually all of the applications are winners. We call the recipients our 'SVST Competition Team' and they have made us proud every single year! We're paying it forward in one small way and we hope it is a blessing to the talented and hard working young racers who are chosen by Stacey. And a special THANK YOU goes out to 'Cookie' for being a great ambassador for the sport.
AJ Hurt, Squaw Valley Ski Team/National Training Group I have skied at Squaw Valley my whole life and can't imagine a better mountain, and I am also a member of the U16 NTG team. I am so thankful for the honor of being awarded the Stacey Cook/SVST Scholarship and I look forward to representing Stacey and SVST in the years to come.
Bruno Amon-Franceschi, Mammoth Mountain Ski Team This year I will be first year U16 racing for the Mammoth Mountain Ski Team. I started skiing when was 3 years old and I started racing when I was 9. I enjoy racing because it is a chance for me to push my limits and cheer on my friends. Ski racing has taught me to be hard working, focused and motivated. I am grateful to my coaches and teammates for pushing me to be the best racer I can be. I would like to thank Stacey Cook and Sun Valley Ski Tools for giving me this great opportunity.
Grace Stetsko, Pinnacle Ski Team I've been skiing as long as I can remember and it is a passion shared by my whole family. My two older brothers taught me how to race and continue to support and encourage me. I ski for the Pinnacle Ski Team, as well as the Lake Orion High School Ski Team. Within both teams, I have incredible coaches and teammates that make racing even more enjoyable. I am very grateful to have been selected for this scholarship and to get the opportunity to pursue what I love!
Hunter Rodrick, Stratton Mountain School I am 17 years old and a senior at Stratton Mountain School in Vermont. I think all skiers share a love for the outdoors, and that is definitely true for me. Whether it be hiking, biking, swimming or fishing...any chance to breathe fresh air is always a great experience. When I was 7 years old, I had the opportunity to try something different. I discovered a passion for ski racing—something entirely new to my family. For over 10 years now, skiing has been a huge aspect of my life, and I am grateful for every day that I get to do what I love. I am truly honored to be a recipient of the 2015 Stacey Cook/SVST Scholarship. I look forward to representing the SVST Team this upcoming season and, of course, skiing fast!
Mazie Hayden, Killington Mountain School I'm a ski cross athlete that lives in a town of 300 in rural Vermont, which resulted in me developing a sense of independence and adventure. This is what drives me to try new things such as ski cross. As an athlete in a fairly young branch of skiing, it really means a lot to be awarded a scholarship not necessarily directed towards skiers like me. I hope to develop into someone who inspires other athletes to pursue their dreams in all types of skiing.
Katie Collins, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail I’ve seen better days in the past two years, but in those years, I’ve learned how to make the best out of any situation. I don’t like to think of my time off snow as a setback, but an opportunity to realize that I truly love this sport, and that I’m driven to put in the hard work to succeed. I’ve built a lot of strength not only in my body, but in my mind. This scholarship really means a lot to me and it still shocks me that I was selected amongst a group of other hard working athletes, that hopefully will be selected in the future. It’s so amazing to be recognized by a successful U.S. Ski Team member. I also wanted to say thank you to everyone involved in this program, it creates hope and drive for us.
Leslie Briscoe, Natrona County and Kelly Walsh high schools I am really excited about this opportunity and I know my team will be as excited about the scholarship as I am! My team is so amazing I can't really put it into words. The ski season is the best time of the year for me, and of course skiing is the best sport ever invented! Beyond that, our coach Ben Schanck is so dedicated to helping any kid he meets and it rubs off on our entire team; we all really support each other and take each other's wins as our own, and the losses as if they didn't happen.