SVSEF athletes of the month are selected collectively by program directors, based on successful athletic performance in competition. Sammy Smith, who is a member of both the cross country prep team and the moguls travel team, and Ryder Sarchett, a member of the alpine USSA team, are the athletes of the month for January.
Ryder Sarchett, a member of the Alpine USSA Team, has had quite an incredible month. Great results qualified him for the U16 National Performance Series, held at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont, January 9-12. The NPS series was a qualifying race for the best U16s in the country. Battling a back injury, Ryder was forced to skip one of the races; despite this setback, he was able to come back the next day and compete. A third place in the slalom race and a third in the giant slalom secured his ticket to Europe, representing the U.S. at the Seven Nations Cup (now the OPA Cup).
One of six U.S. male skiers to compete at the OPA Cup, Ryder took tenth in the slalom on February 8, and was the top American finisher. In the giant slalom on February 9, he finished second overall for his first run, but did not complete his second run.
USSA Head Coach Chuck Harris, who accompanied Ryder to the NPS event as well as the OPA Cup in Liechtenstein spoke to Ryder’s motivation. “Ryder has a tremendous drive. He can never ski enough. He is continuously the first one at training and the last one to leave. His time, commitment, and love of the sport is far and above anything I have ever been a part of. He pushes the coaches, he pushes his teammates, and most importantly he pushes himself.
As a first-year U14, Sammy is currently ranked first for female U14 athletes in the Intermountain Region in cross country skiing. Highlights include a double win at home at the Sun Valley junior national qualifiers, January 22-23.
“Sammy is one of the hardest workers we’ve had on the team,” said Prep Team Head Coach Kelley Sinnott. “Only in the sixth grade but already a leader amongst her peers, even the older boys have to fight to keep up with her on a hard effort training day. The other kids feed off her positive energy and hard work.”
Setting Sammy apart is her keen body awareness – a lot of kids her age have trouble translating words into action. Sammy is able to hear feedback about her technique and make the physical adjustment quickly and seamlessly. Her understanding of technique and body position is very apparent – Sammy has some of the best V2 technique of any skier in the program, boy or girl, through Comp Team.
Also distinctive is Sammy’s eagerness to rise to the challenge – she seems to feed off both her competitive drive and the intensity of the workout. “She flourishes in the tougher moments,” said Sinnott. “Sammy would rather do double pole intervals up the hardest hill than give in or choose an easier path.”
Sammy is as formidable a threat in moguls as she is in cross country. Only 12 years old, she is currently the 15th ranked junior in the country (juniors are 18 and under). Highlights so far this season include winning back-to-back at Squaw Valley and finishing third at Deer Valley on the World Cup course, Champion. Currently at Divisional Championships in Park City, Sammy was the top finisher in her age group (F13) in two moguls events on February 10 and 11, taking eighth overall on the 10th and sixth overall on the 11th. Two U.S. Team athletes were in the field, one of whom just skied in the World Cup at Deer Valley.
Both cross country and mogul coaches appreciate Sammy’s attitude and temperament, on top of her athletic success. “She is one of the kindest, most polite and most modest kids we’ve had – she is thankful for what she has and the work and time her coaches dedicate to her success, and she accepts accolades without fanfare,” noted Sinnott.
With such a packed schedule, Sammy’s high level of maturity and great time management are key. “She always shows up to team on time ready to work, takes full advantage of our training sessions, and always has big smile on her face,” added Josh Zuck, Sammy’s moguls coach.
“Sammy is a great skier, and at such a young age, we can’t wait to see what she is capable of as she grows bigger and gets older,” concluded Sinnott. “I and the other coaches all enjoy coaching her immensely.”