Steamboat Springs, CO – Eight years ago, Tori Billings, then Tori Koski, stepped up from her 2-year coaching position with the SSWSC to become the SSWSC’s Snowboard Program Director. Before her time coaching, Billings started with the program as an athlete in 1997 as an 11 year old, before progressing on to a competitive snowboard career with the U.S. Snowboard Team.
The SSWSC’s programming is set up to encourage progression, and Billings lived and breathed that effort as an athlete, making the full progression from athlete to coach to leader of the Snowboard discipline. During her time as director, Billings pushed for progression in all avenues of the sport, from superior coaching and encouraging an athletic path for athletes, to ensuring Steamboat’s snowboarding programs received the recognition, facilities, and respect of her skiing counterparts.
“Tori worked hard to improve the professionalism of the coaching staff of the snowboard department during her years as director, with 100% of her staff reaching certification in 2019,” said SSWSC Executive Director Sarah Floyd. “The financial side of the snowboard program improved tremendously in the years that Tori was the director with program revenues increasing 63% over her time as the director. Tori’s love of snow sports and the outdoors brought energy and excitement to our team.”
As needs and skills of athletes training at Howelsen Hill surpassed handmade jumps of former years, Billings spearheaded and helped to design a terrain park at Howelsen Hill, complete with snowboardcross practice, big air, rails, and freestyle features. While small, the park gained attention, with Colorado Mountain College students frequently training in its ropes as the sport has gain popularity. Progressing from a small, home-town terrain park, Billings pushed forward to work with Gold Support Partner Steamboat Resort to help create the big air and competitive halfpipes that would ensure safety for elite high-flying athletes.
Tori’s most well-known carve in the snow, to the public eye, comes with the SSWSC Snowboard Slash and Burn Banked Slalom. Based off of the legendary Banked Slalom in Mt. Baker, a well-anticipated snowboarding event that requires qualifications around the country, Billing’s local event was nothing short of a success. The event started on the face of Howelsen Hill, and Billings constructed it from start to finish: recruiting and building the course by hand for hundreds of athletes from around the state to compete. By the third year, the event had so many participants that it needed to change venues. By the fourth year, the event incorporated a second day to allow for training, and by the 5th year, the event moved to two days to ensure younger athletes had the opportunity to race, and was recognized as a potential for the qualification races for Mt. Baker with over 400 participants from across the state at varying ability levels.
“What many did not recognize,” said Associate Executive Jon Nolting, “is that Tori has led perhaps the most diverse snowboarding program in the country. She has done very well to manage the disciplines of halfpipe and slopestyle, snowboardcross and snowboard racing, and has created good, progressive youth programs that give riders the tools to find success in whatever discipline they have passion for.”
In addition to on snow success, Billings also had an integral role in cementing the foundation of SSWSC’s now popular summer skateboard program, which had 108 participants this past summer and fall, when enrollment levels were expected to be lower due to COVID-19.
A former side passion that is soon to be her newest career venture, Billings’ snowmobiling skills have allowed her to become a well-known figure in the back country snowmobiling industry, appearing in TOBE commercials and promoting avalanche safety and education. Her new position managing Colorado Sled Rentals will allow her to expand those passions.
“I am excited to embark on a new adventure and expand my career in the backcountry snowmobile industry,” said Billings. “Backcountry snowmobiling has become my passion and hobby. I plan to be a resource and always a member of SSWSC. Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has supported me, enabled me to thrive and grow as a person.”
Billing’s snowmobile connections have even worked to the SSWSC’s advantage: two seasons ago, Billings and her associates from Back Country United were able to bring the first Back Country Avalanche Awareness course to SSWSC Athletes. Stemming from that introduction, SSWSC Freeskiing Director Tony Lodico is offering the first seasonal Backcountry Education program this year that will take athletes into the backcountry with a trained snow professional.
Until the nationwide search for SSWSC’s future Snowboard Program Director in the spring, current Head Snowboard Freestyle Coach Maddy Schaffrick will fill in as Interim Snowboard Director for the currently enrolled 71 snowboard athletes, supported by a well-prepared staff of head coaches that Billings’ hand selected over her years as Director, including head coaches Thedo Remmelink, Sasha Nations, Erik Gunderson and Trevor Mekelburg.
‘Tori’s commitment to the success of the snowboard program has been above and beyond,” said Dave Stewart, SSWSC’s Athletic Director. “Among the many achievements during her tenure as director, one of the most significant contributions Tori has made to the program and our community is the outstanding and highly qualified staff she worked tirelessly to recruit and develop. Tori will certainly be missed at the SSWSC, and we wish her nothing but the best in her new position at Colorado Sled Rentals.’
The SSWSC would like to thank Tori Billings for her dedication, passion, and love of a sport that she has helped to grow for generations of past, present, and future athletes at the SSWSC.
“Tori will be missed at the SSWSC, and we wish her well and hope that she will always feel like the SSWSC and Howelsen Hill are close to her heart,” said Sarah Floyd.