Semester At Snow

Liam Doran

From the why-didn't-someone-think-of-this-sooner department, longtime Colorado-based pro snowboarder Jeff Meyer is debuting a new kind of coaching program this winter, called Semester at Snow.

Through the program, Meyer will mentor aspiring pros in all facets of life -- from their technical riding to branding to sports psychology -- for a season or more in Breckenridge and Summit County. The 34-year-old, who has been coaching snowboarders either at camps (including High Cascade Snowboard Camp from 2003-2006) or privately for a decade, said he has a handful of clients already signed up but is accepting more. The program is ideally suited for athletes ages 17-25, he said, adding that Semester at Snow does not offer a traditional coach-athlete relationship.

"Traditional coaching deals a lot with skills development and instructing and bossing the kids on the hill. You have very little sports psychology, industry mentorship and athlete development in terms of branding," he said. "I'm trying to flip it upside down. The goals are twofold: structure and how to pursue your education and live on your own, as well as industry mentorship. I want a kid who's so damn enthusiastic that he just needs direction and channeling, not bossing and instruction."

Meyer plans to help clients relocate to Breckenridge, find housing, sign up for classes at Colorado Mountain College or tutors for high school-aged kids (if applicable), then get down to business on the hill. He'll even work with them on approaching sponsors at trade shows, he said. Instead of giving up on snowboarding to pursue a degree, "It's probably more affordable to come to my program for a year, get a night job or gain your residency, then start integrating community college courses, and after two years you can transfer to CU-Boulder," he said. "That's what I did."

Although the fee and frequency of meetings are negotiable depending upon a rider's circumstances, Meyer is requiring at least a season of commitment, hence the Semester at Snow moniker. "It's unfair to expect to get big results if you only put a little in," he said. "But that's the thing, I'll find somebody's parents who are strapped for cash, so we can't meet as often, but we'll still stretch out the duration. Because how I look at it is the longer the kids are in this program, the better off they are."

Meesh Hytner, a former Colorado pro who now lives in New York City, paid Meyer to coach her for four years. He speaks from real-world experience, she said, not speculation. (He still maintains a few sponsors from his competition days, too.) "It's almost like life coaching," Hytner said. "He doesn't just teach you how to learn 5's. There were times when people would say, you've been working with the same coach for three or four years. Don't you want to switch? And I'd be like, no, there's no one else I want to work with."

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