For you young athletes out there who wonder if dreams can come true…. believe, work hard, and it will happen.
Another person who was living his dream, was Bryce Astle. Bryce was the 2013 Snowbird Skier of the Year, and the 2014 Most Improved Skier. Bryce’s improvement during the 2014 season was greater than I have ever witnessed in my 26 years of coaching this team. Bryce was the 2014 US National Junior Champion, and he carried that momentum into this season. By Christmas, he was clearly the top Junior in GS and SL in the nation….by a large margin, and at only 19 years old. Bryce was so much more than just a great skier. Bryce loved to share his passion for skiing with everyone around him. He was a very caring person, that so many grew to love and to consider him as a great friend. During Christmas Camp, Bryce, along with Brennan Rubie, spent time with the young kids on our Jfast team, sharing their insights on what this team meant to them, what they loved about the sport, and the character and focus needed to be successful in ski racing. Bryce left for Europe with the USST two days later.
Tragically, Bryce was killed in an avalanche in Austria on January 5th, while training with the USST. Bryce’s passing touched not just our team, but ski racing communities throughout the country. There has been an outpouring of support for Bryce and his family nationwide. In this very room in January, his service drew an estimated 1200 people and included racers and coaches from all over the country. (It was jam packed in here, standing room only, people filled the hallways and foyer outside the room.) People came to honor Bryce, not just because Bryce was a great skier, but because of the type of person Bryce was. The highest level of the Western Region Competition Series has been renamed the Bryce Astle Elite FIS Series. Bryce was the 2x defending IMC Overall Champion, and now the IMC Overall Trophy, which is this beautiful Bell from Switzerland, has been renamed in Bryce’s honor. Future generations of ski racers will be able to ring this Bell for Bryce. (ring – sounds pretty good!) One of our athletes, Jacob Keith, carried on Bryce’s tradition and won the Bryce Astle IMC Overall Title this season.
Here at home, SBSEF has created a long term project in Bryce’s memory, the Bryce Astle Scholarship and Endownment fund. Our goal is to keep Bryce’s legacy alive and provide benefits to athletes in need for future generations to come. At the 2015 World Alpine Championships, NBC honored Bryce, along with his US teammate Ronnie Berlack, who was also killed in the avalanche. (Watch video) I’d like to thank the Astle Family for being here tonight. I just want to say, and I feel like I speak for all the coaches, what a tremendous joy it was to coach Bryce, and to have him on the team and be a part of our lives. Our world is a better place because of him.
Recently, a foundation was formed and you can get more information about the Bryce Astle Foundation at the links below.