DOVER — Ron Chiodi translated his experience as a professional snowboarder and Olympian into a highly successful coaching program.
"Snowboarding has been my life since I was 16," he said. "I've done it every day since I was 19."
His goal with American Snowboard Training Center is not only to give students an opportunity to advance in competitions but also prepare them to join the snowboard industry in other ways. He estimates 75 percent of his students go on to work in the industry.
"If you mentor people a certain way, you get the right people in snowboarding, and that keeps snowboarding a certain way," he said, considering individuality "huge" at the center. "Nothing is homogenized here."
In 2007, after coaching with other people at Stratton Mountain Resort, Chiodi decided to go out on his own. In 2009, he moved the program to Mount Snow and began offering housing at a Suntec condo.
The following year, he started renting a house for the team at the bottom of the Carinthia terrain park face. He ended up buying it last year.
"Every five years, I made a deal with the homeowner and at the last five-year deal, there was a contingency that at the end of that five-year term, I would have the opportunity to buy the home," he said. "Luckily, the deal that we put together, the owner honored it in the end, even during a time when markets were going crazy and COVID was lingering over our heads. The owner and his wife loved what we did for the kids. They wanted to see that house continue in that way, so they honored the agreement, even though they probably could have gotten a lot more money for it from someone else."
Chiodi said he started the program with no financial assistance. He credited Scott Horwath for being "here from the beginning coaching and helping to build the ASTC brand with his photography and video," former pro rider Jason Evans for helping "get it going in the early years," and former student and coach Emily Pannkuk for being "instrumental" Lucas Ferry's early development. Ferry is now a member of the U.S. Snowboard Rookie Slopestyle Team.
Pro riders who coached in the program such as Nate Haust and Christian Connors "added a unique perspective to the regular training day," Chiodi said. He called Luke Hahn, who runs the team house and lives with the students, "instrumental over the last six years."
The center started in 2007. The following year, housing was offered to students when Chiodi rented the condo.
As his first student at the center, Austin Lamoreaux had a front-row seat to watching the program develop from the ground floor. He was about 10 years old, doing McTwists in the halfpipe and living in Pennsylvania at the time, when Chiodi invited him to Vermont to train.
Soon, Lamoreaux was cruising around Mount Snow with Chiodi. The next season, Lamoreaux started coming to Vermont on Wednesdays through Sundays. He recounted helping Chiodi find other kids to coach, and then Chiodi brought on a couple of coaches.
Chiodi was "100 percent responsible for me, from riding to education to food to transit to everything, and that was a really big learning curve for both of us," Lamoreaux said.
Students continue with their studies during the season by going to The Tutorial Center in Manchester. Each student brings their own curriculum from their home state to be taught by certified teaching staff at the center one on one.
Initially, Chiodi coached on weekends but found that it just wasn't what his group was trying to achieve with their athletes.
"That Monday through Friday with nobody on the hill made sense," he said. "And then we used our weekends to relax and see family and do work, continue our workouts and stuff like that."
The center currently has about 12 students. Typically, the program hosts between 15 and 17 each season.
A center program based in Michigan also has students. When the two groups travel for the same event, they will link up and train together.
Chiodi keeps the number of students small, preferring what he calls a "family-type environment" over an institutional situation.
"It's not a dorm," he said. "Kids kind of feel like they live at home. They can go in the fridge whenever they want. They have freedoms that they don't have at other places, and I feel that creates opportunity for growth."
Lessons from Chiodi's experience as a business owner and his past as a snowboard pro are shared with students. He considers his mistakes an important component of the conversation.
Ferry, who trained with the center for seven years, remembers Chiodi approaching his parents at the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association National Championships.
"He, I guess, saw something and talked to my parents," Ferry said in an interview after practicing for big air competitions for the Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in Colorado. "I went and tested for a day, and the whole crew was super sick. I was like, this is where I want to be. Super-inviting environment."
Ferry said the center's coaches "do it right."
"They let us gauge how we ride," he said. "They let us decide how hard we want to train every day, and they'll just correct. They won't push or hold you back. I think that's the way to do it."
Ferry said he wouldn't be where he is today without Chiodi and the American Snowboard Training Center. Every day, he's using what he learned through the program.
"I use even the life skills Ron taught me, not just the snowboarding," he said, citing laundry, dishwashing and grocery shopping, as examples. "A lot of that stuff helps now when I'm always on the road."
Lamoreaux credits Chiodi with being as much of a coach as a friend. Even if Chiodi doesn't know how to do a trick, Lamoreaux said, he'll make sure a student will achieve their goal in the safest and most stylish way.
Currently, Lamoreaux is 25 years old and riding professionally but not competitively any more. He recently made the cover of Arkade Magazine for backcountry riding and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
These days, Lamoreaux views snowboarding as an art form rather than a sport. Eventually, he thinks he might help Chiodi with the center.
Chiodi "developed this whole thing completely off the east coast and that doesn't happen anymore," Lamoreaux said.
"When Ron sees the kids are hungry to get it, he does not leave their side," Lamoreaux said. "It's pedal to the floor 100 percent of the time."