PARK CITY, Utah — The Youth Sports Alliance (YSA) is a pretty tight knit group of local student-athlete families. That feeling was personified on Sunday night when they had to scramble and huddle together under umbrellas at the Deer Valley outdoor amphitheater stage as the rain down poured during the annual Circle of Excellence Awards Ceremony. Nothing could dampen the spirits of these winter sports enthusiasts though.
YSA manages affordable after school sports experiences while also providing financial support for competitive sport teams and individual need-based sports scholarships. The sport teams participate in luge, bobsled/skeleton, figure skating, skiing, and speed skating.
Two former YSA athletes were given Hall of Fame awards, Adam Cole and Colby Stevenson.
Colby Stevenson, a Park City native got his start on skis before he was two. He grew up in the freeski pipeline following local legend, Coach Chris ‘Hatch’ Haslock from the Utah Olympic Park’s Fly Freestyle to Axis Freeride. While training with Axis, now part of Park City Ski & Snowboard, and attending the Winter Sports School, he was tapped for the US Rookie Freeski Team.
He is noted for his love of the sport, but more importantly for his perseverance. In 2016, Colby was in a serious car accident that doctors felt would end his skiing career but he quickly was cleared to train again.
Watch and listen to Stevenson’s acceptance speech below.
In 2020, Stevenson won two gold medals at the X Games, earned a silver in Slopestyle in the 2021 World Championships and then a silver medal in Big Air at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. A recent achievement on skis was getting crowned the 2023 King of Corbet’s at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Adam Cole, also a Park City native, grew up in the local alpine pipeline – Learn to race, Farm Team, Devo, and Park City Ski Team. He was named to the U.S. Alpine Development team as he was wrapping up his high school career. He spent three years on the U.S. Ski Team, winning the World Junior Downhill title in his first year. After a few injury plagued seasons on the U.S. Ski Team, he headed to the University of Denver. In his sophomore year at Denver, he won the Giant Slalom and Slalom events at the NCAA ski finals helping his team to a second place finish overall.
The highlight of Cole’s ski racing story came as a coach rather than an athlete – he joined Forest Carey and Mike Kenney as a U.S. Ski Team coach for Ted Ligety and Bode Miller as they raced in all disciplines leading up to the Sochi Olympics and then for World Championships the following year in Beaver Creek.
Adam and his wife, Jess Kelley are parents to five- year-old, Blake, and three-year-old, Cadia. He served on the Park City Ski & Snow- board board, helping with the successful transition from seven discipline specific teams into one big winter ski and snowboard program. He also runs the family business, Cole Sport.
The nominees for the YSA Leadership award were Jackson Crockett, Lucas Fassio, Dyllan Guay, Brynn Roberts, and the winner of the category Rachael Haerter, a ski jumper. Haerter was in Norway training so her family received the plaque in her absence.
She suffered a knee injury with kept her in the work out rooms more-so than the locker rooms than she would have liked for the last year. During that downtime, she was a constant presence on the sidelines assisting the coaches and supporting the teammates.
Haerter said in a statement, “My journey to become the leader I am today has been a collaborative effort, shaped by the people that surround me. Empathy, adaptability, and the concern for the well-being of others has been something I’ve focussed on profoundly. This journey has taught me that leadership is not merely about achieving excellence, but about fostering a sence of unity, support, and empathy among all team members.”
Tory Hoffman, a cross country ski racer, received the Breakthrough Performance of the Year award. The other nominated athletes were Henry Townshend, and Sam Samantha Shuflit.
YSA recognized achievement by presenting the All-Star and Champion awards each year to athletes who represent the top 5% of athletic accomplishments for their teams.
The All-Star Award recognizes athletes who attain significant results in regional competition.
The Champion Award recognizes athletes who attain significant results at national or international competition. Champion Award winners earned a top-five national ranking in their sport, represented their country in international competition, or attained top results at a national or international level competition.
The Elementary Schools’ After School programs’ Get Out and Play Core Values award recipients were: Burkley Allen, Millie Allen, Trev Allen, Remy Black, Sienna Coppola, Jenni Flores, Colette Gabbay, Jose Maria Geraldo, Thomas Harper, Riley Johnson, Aubrie La Roche, Phinley O’Brien, Jude Parker and Noah Schildermans.
YSA’s Middle School after school program’s Active 8 Core Values awards recipients were: Max Scott Cardenas, Jackson Carlson, Victoria Hendel, and Hunter Hill.
The Spirit of Service award was given to Liz Craig Myers who has given of her time, energy, and photographic skills to the YSA for decades.
The Live Like Sam, Sam Jackenthal Show Stopper award for exceptional moments that leave a lasting memory went to Drew Dana.
Donations may be made to the YSA nonprofit by getting Intermountain Health Opportunity Drawing tickets here to win an experience in France at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Winner will be drawn at the October 28 JANS Winter Welcome.