Loppet Foundation

Ski Club Spotlight: Stephen Casey

This article was posted on Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Ski Club Spotlight shines a light on passionate members and coaches. This month we are featuring Ski Club Coach Stephen Casey.

If you’re a Ski Club Member and would like to be featured, please e-mail Anthony Taylor.

Stephen Casey

The Loppet: Why did you join Ski Club?

Stephen Casey: I didn’t actually join the ski club — it joined us. ‘Us’ being myself and the group of coaches who came over to The Loppet from the American Lung Association program. We are all dedicated skiers who have taught and promoted skiing as a year-round and lifelong sport. We started the winter program with the belief that it is much easier to teach beginners to ski, if we start without glide. We started as a small group, using Yahoo to keep in touch through the season. The Ski Club really started when a couple of our skiers started to use that Yahoo group to promote Saturday pole hikes in the dryland (bad glide) season. The group continued to grow and now some of those members are now Ski Club coaches. In addition to technique, our club has grown to become a year-round place to connect and build lifelong friendships.

The Loppet: What was your Aha! moment in the club?

Stephen Casey: I started skiing at 29 years old which was a difficult transition period in my life. I recently had lost a job and was nearing the end of my active alcoholism. The time I spent on skis, in the woods, and with other skiers was a catalyst in my transformation from someone who was lost to having a pretty good life!

The Loppet: What is your favorite Loppet event?

Stephen Casey: My favorite race every year at the City of Lakes Loppet is that Puoli Freestyle, because of it’s laid-back atmosphere. I don’t have the body type or enough time to put in the training hours to do well on the full loppet, but the Puoli suits me pretty well.

The Loppet: What is your favorite Loppet Story?

Stephen Casey: My favorite story is from the City of Lakes Loppet, the year the race did loops at Theodore Wirth and the Elite Wave went last. I had just completed the Classic race and was watching the Freestyle race near where The Trailhead will be located. There were still a slew of slower wave skiers on the steep, little, nasty hill that comes out of the bowl there when the lead pack came through. Matt Liebsch hit the hill and skated through just before the gap closed. The next skiers were Brian Gregg, a couple of other CXC guys, and a couple of the blind Russian Paralympic skiers. They hit the hill with what looked like nowhere to go – or so it appeared to me – but the whole group just double poled straight up the center of this steep and chopped up hill. It was absolutely amazing to watch their strength.

The Loppet: What is your favorite Loppet Volunteer experience?

Stephen Casey: My favorite volunteer experience is coaching. It’s always rewarding to get to work with someone who is gifted athletically, but has never skied. It usually takes half a dozen sessions and a few tips, but then they ski away into the Wave 1 or 2 programs.

It’s equally rewarding to coach someone (like myself) who comes to skiing as an adult and who is not particularly athletic, but who has caught the fever. We get to watch those skiers struggle, fight the urge to avoid falling, and learn basic things like flexing at the ankle, getting the hips forward, etc… Then one day they ski and before you know it, they are competent skiers. As a Ski Club we work as a group on a course that can be difficult for beginners, but they all learn the skills and confidence to tackle all of it. It’s very cool!