If you are not already familiar with HoliMont’s diverse Racing Program (or should I say programs), let me enlighten you. HoliMont has several racing disciplines - from Intraclub Racing which introduces young skiers to the excitement of ski racing, to Adult Racing that is designed to challenge and improve on one’s skiing ability, to competitive programs such as HoliMont’s Junior Alpine Travel Team and Junior Snowboard Team. Whether you are new to racing or an advanced skier, HoliMont’s Racing Program has something for everybody!
With that said, coordinating all of these comprehensive programs is no easy feat. It takes a very organized and dynamic person to keep it all under control. This month, SNOWED-IN took some time to sit down with the brains and skis behind this phenomenal Racing Program. Meet HoliMont’s Racing Director, Travis Widger, aka “Widg”. If you’re a local, you might know this fourth generation Elliicottvillian. And if you are a part of the Racing Program at HoliMont, you certainly are familiar with him! Travis and his wife, Laura recently had their first child, Jack Peter Widger, fifth generation, who they hope to have on skis near the end of next season!
NICOLE: How long have you been a part of HoliMont?
TRAVIS: This is my fourth season as Racing Director. I grew up in Ellicottville and ski raced for HoliMont as a Junior. In 2007 I coached the JI/JII Program which is currently the U18 Program at HoliMont. After a four-year stint at Smugglers Notch Ski Club running their Racing Programs, I returned home to Ellicottville to take my current position.
NICOLE: I noticed that HoliMont has several racing programs. How involved do you get in each of the disciplines?
TRAVIS: I oversee all programs, and I work on-snow coaching athletes in all of the skiing programs. My snowboarding skills are still a bit infantile, but I do work to organize and set up all the snowboard events and training venues.
NICOLE: You are certainly one busy guy! Could you tell me something about the racing program that most people do not know?
TRAVIS: HoliMont Racing began in 1967 as a low key family based organization and has maintained these roots while placing athletes on the Canadian and U.S. National Teams, NCAA Division 1 College Programs, and becoming one of the premier ski and snowboard programs in New York State.
NICOLE: Are there any events within the racing program that the general public can take part in?
TRAVIS: The general public can participate in many of our races as long as they are members of the United States Ski Racing Association (USSA), New York State Ski Racing Association (NYSSRA), and United States of America Snowboard and Free ski Association (USASA).
NICOLE: What do you absolutely love about snow sports and what do you love about your job?
TRAVIS: I love that snow sports are always changing, whether it is the weather, terrain, snow conditions, or course. I love being outside and helping to give back to a program and culture that gave so much to me while sharing that lifelong love for winter sports, which I cherish with today’s youth.
NICOLE: Did you ever think you would be in the position you are in now as the Racing Director at HoliMont?
TRAVIS: It never occurred to me that I would choose a career in snow sports, however skiing and ski racing is more genetic than tradition in my family. My dad Mike Widger, and his dad (my grandpa) Pete Widger have been involved in snow sports in Ellicottville their whole lives as former racers, instructors, coaches, and managers. Grandpa Pete helped run and work at the School at Holiday Valley in the 1960’s, Managed HoliMont for nearly 20 years, and currently does the daily slope reports at Holiday Valley. My dad ran the Racing Programs and coached at Holiday Valley in the 1980’s and is currently coaching with me at HoliMont. I guess winter sports are in my blood!
NICOLE: I guess if it’s in your blood, you have no choice but to roll (or ski) with it! How do you motivate yourself and your team, and what makes your coaching staff awesome?
TRAVIS: We motivate ourselves and team by getting out there to ski and ride with our athletes. We focus strongly on the basic fundamentals of skiing and riding with a goal of creating a platform from which all athletes can learn, grow, and succeed through directed freesking on all aspects of the mountain, while reaching for personal goals in snow sports competition, and instilling a lifelong love for winter sports in all. We strive to create great skiers and riders first who will then become awesome competitors. Our coaching staff is so great because they are talented skiers and riders with big hearts and a huge love for winter sports.
NICOLE: What do you look forward to in the racing programs in the near future?
TRAVIS: We are looking forward to our upcoming championship season where we will have athletes competing across the State, East, Provinces, and Country in events such as State Championships for many age groups in ski racing, snowboarding Provincial Championships and USASA National Championships, Eastern Championships and Kandahar Festivals hosted at HoliMont Feb. 28-March 1.
NICOLE: Last question … what’s your favorite run at HoliMont?
TRAVIS: Wild Turkey.