Advanced Youth Skiers Can Get Amped At Silver

Cover photo courtesy of Serena McPherson

As a toddler, Zane Larson didn’t really have a choice when he clicked into his first set of skis. He grew up at Winter Park Resort in Colorado, where his mom worked as a ski instructor and his dad and uncle were ski patrollers. “By the time I was 6, I was in my first group program at Winter Park. And from there, joined the freestyle developmental mogul program, and stayed with [freestyle moguls] my entire competitive ski career,” he says.  

In his teens, Larson was a competitive freestyle skier, and by age 14 he qualified to represent the U.S. on the North American Cup Tour (NORAM), which he describes as “a circuit tour a step below the World Cup, consisting of American, Canadian, Australian, and Japanese alpine athletes.” Larson competed for three seasons, 2011-2014, until significant injuries led him to “retire” from mogul competition.

Larson then started his coaching career with the Winter Park Freestyle Mogul Team, which he did for nine years before moving to Spokane with his wife in spring 2022. In order to become part of the local ski community, he signed-up for Silver Mountain Ski Patrol’s Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) course and spent his first Inland NW winter as a patrol candidate.

Courtesy of Serena McPherson

When he heard from Inland NW ski parents and fellow patrollers that the local ski community could use more youth programs, Larson began strategizing: How do we create a competitive culture to encourage kids to keep skiing and remain part of the community? And not just train for one discipline—train to become a lifelong skier?

Larson learned that our region also needed something for those kids who aged out of racing programs or didn’t want to travel for competitions, he explains. So he created a new branch of Silver Mountain Ski Racing Team for advanced skiers, ages 11-15. The goals for the new All-Mountain Program (AMP) are to progress each skier’s technical ski performance and body mechanics as well as comfortability and ability with jumps, trees, cliffs, bumps, and speed in varying conditions. “We focus on putting athletes in the right place at the right time to excel their ability and love for skiing,” says coach Larson.

To join AMP, one must be able to ski the whole mountain unassisted as an advanced skier. Training is every Saturday, skiing with Larson all over the mountain “to hone-in on new skillsets and better themselves as all-around skiers,” he says.

For this inaugural season, AMP has nine registered athletes, with the option to race in the Silver Cup, March 24-25, 2024, at Silver Mountain. Parents/guardians of advanced skiers, ages 11-15, interested in joining AMP next year can contact Larson to arrange a half-day (9 a.m.-noon) drop-in session this season on March 2, 9, or 16, to meet coaches and demonstrate their abilities. “It’s not try-out,” Larson says, “just a free, casual meeting to help determine if an athlete would be a good fit for the program.”

“It can be scary for parents to see their kids ski faster than before or go off jumps,” says Larson. “But the premise [for AMP] is that kids will want to go out and do these things on their own or with their friends. So learning in a controlled environment with professional coaches and proper training, AMP athletes will be able to do all the daredevil stunts they want to try in a safe way.” Reach out to Larson for more info at or call/text (303) 903-5877. //

Amy McCaffree has been adventuring around the Inland Northwest for 20 years and writing for Out There since 2016.

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