The Durango Winter Sports Club’s Alpine team hosts and competes in the first event of the Southern Series, the Purgatory Classic, sponsored by Bronson Family McDonald’s, on Jan. 19-22.
Skiers from across the Rocky Mountains will race super-G and giant slalom events on Upper Hades, which is “considered to be one of the best competition venues in Colorado for its wide range of terrain features,” according to Alpine team director Tyler Hoyt.
The team looks to hold on to its status as Champions of the Southern Series of the Rocky Mountain Division for the fourth year in a row.
The organization operates five teams. Accomplished skiers have the option to participate in Alpine racing, freestyle skiing or freeride skiing, while younger skiers may access an introductory competition program known as Gromlins.
This year, DWSC integrated the Mountain Logic Purgatory Snowboard Club, which has been led by program director Cody Beaver for 13 years.
“We’ve had great success in training athletes, and now by combining forces with the DWSC, we will be able to reach more athletes in the community” Beaver said.
For the 2023 season, DWSC enrolled a record number of athletes, almost 250 across the teams, ages 5 to 18. DWSC athletes perform in regional and national competitions, while forming lifelong bonds with their peers, according to an organization spokesperson.
In January, DWSC freestyle skiers competed in Aspen, freeride skiers set their sights on a Wolf Creek competition, and the snowboard team will compete in Telluride.
Increasingly, competitive snow sports have presented economic barriers to participation. An aim of the nonprofit club is to improve access to all athletes; this season, DWSC granted more than $15,000 in need-based scholarships.
In addition to support from donors and sponsors, an all-volunteer board helps to keep tuition costs to families among the lowest for any competitive winter sports program in the United States.
Through continued community support, the team plans to increase scholarship opportunities for athletes of all backgrounds and has a goal of ultimately funding a dedicated executive director.
In addition to financial sponsors, the club works closely with Purgatory Resort and Chapman Hill to provide athletes with multiple training venues during weekends and evenings.
“We’re extremely fortunate to have strong support from our local ski areas and our community partners like Bronson Family McDonald’s, La Plata Electric Association, Bank of the San Juans, La Quinta Inn and Suites and Riverview Animal Hospital. Without these supporters our programs would not be possible,” DWSC Board President Nate Pierantoni said.
DWSC, formerly known as the Purgatory Ski Team, has a long history of inspiring young skiers and bringing positive recognition to the Durango community, a club spokesperson said.
“The club exists to instill a lifelong passion for winter sports through education, sportsmanship, friendship and personal achievement,” they said. “(Their) 50 coaches strive to develop confidence, character and stewardship in their athletes, believing that these qualities will help them to succeed both on and off the mountain. As a member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, they aim to develop athletes’ participation at the highest levels of competition.”
More information and opportunities to get involved are available by visiting www.durangowintersportsclub.org.