Vail Mountaineer Article from December 29, 2010
A 5-time X-Games medalist, a national Ski Halfpipe champion and a recent DewTour podium finisher among the new recruits
Elana Chase has made quite a splash since moving from Aspen to take over as Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s (SSCV) Freeride and Snowboard program director.
Despite her “director” title, above all else Elana sees herself as a coach and has emerged as one of the premier freeride coaches in the country.
“Freeride/Freestyle is the best sport for my personality,” said Chase. “I think with judged sports, such as freeride skiing and snowboarding, there are many more elements and layers to becoming successful.”
In 2008, Chase was recognized by USSA as the Freestyle Coach of the Year becoming not only the first woman, but also the first Freeride coach of either gender to achieve the honor.
Chase is a graduate of Montana State University in Bozeman, and before Aspen coached at The Canyons in Park City and Okemo Mountain School in Vermont. She also serves on a number of national sport committees and is a level-4 certified coach for aerials and new school acrobatic skiing.
On coaching in Vail, Chase said she wants to see ultimate development of athletes from Vail and athletes coming to Vail for training.
Local professional skier Jess Cumming, followed Chase on her move from Aspen to Vail.
“I’ve known Elana (Chase) for years and she is a great coach,” said Cumming, who took third in the Breckenridge Dew Tour earlier in December. “It’s different how she works with everyone and that is why she’s had so much success. She can adjust to what works for each individual person.”
Chase emerged as a coach in the sport early in the decade when, up until then, friends piecing together new ideas in the terrain park and giving each other pointers was the only accelerator for freeride skiing.
“When I was starting, there was nothing official like we have now,” Cumming said. “But with freeride getting attention from the Olympic committee and professional coaching like Elana (Chase), the sport has taken off.”
Both ski slopestyle and halfpipe have put in a bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and Chase has had an instrumental role in pushing for the bid, says Cumming.
“With freeride skiing and snowboarding contests that do not involve a timing aspect, showing off your personality subject to other people’s opinions, and being criticized by others, matters in how you place in a competition,” Chase said about the challenges of coaching the sport. “How judges perceive you, what sponsors gravitate to you, and what events you get invited to. I think these sports really make you grow as a person.”
Growing as a person and growing as an athlete, Cumming said that she has been working with Chase over the last five years, and has since seen considerable results such as a third-place X-Games finish in 2009.
Beginning in 2004, Chase put her expertise to use at the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club where she coached seven Winter X-Games medalists, of which three were gold.
With an impressive résumé, talented athletes have followed her from Aspen to Vail. Among those athletes is five-time X-Games medalist Jen Hudak and National Ski Halfpipe champion, Tucker Perkins.
Emily Kloser, mother of SSCV Freestyle skier Heidi Kloser who recently finished 10th in the moguls world cup in China, said Chase was instrumental in the success of Heidi and is a great addition to the program.
“Over the years, Heidi attended camps solely because Elana (Chase) was coaching,” Kloser said. “Elana Chase is another wonderful addition to the high caliber of coaching staff at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.”