Last year was a breakthrough year for the Single Track Off Road Mountain Bike Club, or STORMBC a Whistler-based club with over 35 young members, between the ages of seven and 18.
Together STORMBC members competed in eight events, bringing home 17 gold medals in cross-country and downhill disciplines, and three B.C. Championship titles. Head Coach Chris Colbeck won the pro mens downhill trophy, Brook Baker won the Cadet womens cross-country, and Jeff Beatty ran away with the Cadet Expert mens downhill.
STORMBC was also given the Mountain Bike Club of the Year AWARD by Cycling B.C.
"Chris Colbeck has formed a group at Whistler called STORMBC, which must be doing something right in terms of youth development as at any given B.C. Cup you can probably find more kids from the STORMBC program than from any other," wrote Candace Shadley of Cycling B.C. "And both the 2000 Cadet Womens XC Provincial Champion and the 2000 Cadet DH Provincial Champion are among them."
Cycling B.C. has since approached STORMBC for help with the provincial downhill mountain bike team, recognizing the proficiency of the coaches and the uniqueness of the program. This summer the club will be running Cycling B.C. under 15 downhill certification camps for racers who want to compete at the cadet level, and a B.C. Downhill Hill Team training camp.
While the club will still continue to focus on youth development for all ages and rider levels, their recent success in the competitive side of the sport has shown the need for and benefits of a higher level racing program.
STORMBC is applying for non-profit group status, and in the coming weeks will be approaching local businesses for sponsorship. The goal is to create a Whistler team, supported by Whistler businesses and fuelled by the talent of local riders.
Five of the best athletes between the ages of 13 and 18 will be chosen for the STORMBC team, which will travel to all B.C. Cup Races this summer and possibly to a NORBA event in Park City, Utah.
As the STORMBC team provides more exposure for the organization and sponsors and more experience for the top athletes, the whole organization benefits.
"This kind of program is big overseas in Europe and its big in the U.S.," says Doug Treleaven, who has son is in the program. "The kids all work really hard, theyre out there rain or shine doing laps on the mountain. Its what they have to do stay competitive."
To help STORMBC reach the next level, and raise funding to the estimated $25,000 price tag to equip a van and cover travelling expenses, STORMBC founder Colbeck has created a Board of Directors.
Colbeck will serve as president and director of programs. Mike Hawes is chairman, Brenda Baker and Ingrid Treleaven are sharing secretary duties, Doug Treleaven and George Klimock are directors of sponsorship, Martha Heintzman is the fund-raising director, and Gary Baker is the official liaison.
The coaching directors are; Colbeck, head coach and downhill/dual slalom director; Daamiann "Daamo" Skelton, technical coach and director of womens programs; Chad Miles, cross-country racing director; and Richie Schley, director of Freeride Programs. Chris Harper and Dave Burch will assist Schley.
"Some of these kids are looking to take it to the next level, maybe competing in Europe when they graduate," says Treleaven. "Some are looking way ahead, hoping that Toronto wins the Olympics in 2008 and that theyre in it. These kids are really good, and this is an opportunity to get better."
Putting together a travelling team has become more important with the cancellation of Summer Sessions and the World Cup this summer. "Nobody is talking about how the loss of the World Cup is going to affect these young racers. It was like a local hockey player having the Stanley Cup come to Whistler. Its an opportunity lost," says Treleaven.
STORMBC is a year-round training program, taking athletes cross-country skiing to keep the aerobic fitness up and working out in the weight room. "STORMBC believes in versatility," says Colbeck. "Create versatile athletes and they will excel in any sport they choose to race or participate in."
The B.C. Cup season begins on May 5 in Parksville, B.C. with both cross-country and downhill events.