In his sixth season as alpine director at Team Summit Colorado (TSC), Aldo Radamus, a Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame inductee and former professional skier with over 40 years of coaching and athlete development experience, recognizes top-notch talent when he sees it.
According to Radamus, 17-year-old Stella Buchheister, a local alpine ski racer, stands out as a premiere athlete.
When The Sopris Sun asked Radamus what makes a young athlete successful, he responded, “I would say it’s determination, perseverance — or resilience — and work ethic. Stella demonstrates all three of those in spades.”
The alpine racing spirit runs deep in the Buchheister family. Her father, Geoff, was a three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) All-American racer on the ski team at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her mother, Tina, grew up racing in Slovenia and achieved NCAA All-American status while attending the University of Utah. Younger brother, Luka, is currently pursuing alpine racing with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.
Growing up in Park City, Utah, Buchheister’s love for skiing began in a weekend program for kids where she skied “and just had fun,” she said. When she was about 6, she asked her parents about “the next step, where I could continue skiing and take it further,” she recalled.
That next step was the Park City Farm Team, a program for young athletes ages 7 to 11, fostering a passion for skiing while developing fundamental racing skills. Later, her family moved to Keystone, where her father became the general manager of Keystone Resort and later chief operating officer at Whistler. In 2018, at 12 years old, Buchheister joined TSC, a ski and snowboard development community for youth, starting as a U-14 racer, and she soon moved into the U-16 age group.
“From the beginning, it’s been awesome,” she said. “Just really great training. We have good partnerships with the mountains in Summit County — at Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin resorts — so we have amazing training all the time.”
“She’s a rare athlete, a rare young person in terms of the commitment she makes to her sport,” Radamus shared.
Buchheister was nominated by U.S. Ski & Snowboard to compete as a member of the women’s alpine team at the Youth Olympic Winter Games, Jan. 19 to Feb. 1 in South Korea.
However, in late November, a crash during a training run resulted in an impact fracture on her tibial plateau — an injury that kept her off the slopes for six weeks. Being sidelined by an injury was unfamiliar territory for Buchheister.
“It was hard mentally because it happened at the start of the training season,” she said. “I had been skiing really well in training, and I was excited to see how that translated in races.”
Facing the stark reality of an injury was “shocking at the beginning,” she admitted, but with the unwavering support of family, friends and coaches, she adopted a day-by-day strategy for her recovery.
“I chose not to look too far ahead into the future and think about all the things I was missing but instead focus on the positives and the small progress that I was making every day,” Buchheister shared.
Despite the injury, Buchhesiter remains steadfast in her goal to make the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Development team. “With this injury, it’s obviously going to be a lot harder to do that this season, but I think it’s still attainable,” she said.
Last spring, the family moved to the Roaring Fork Valley when her father took over the reins as chief executive officer of Aspen Snowmass. Currently, she is completing her senior year of high school online while living in Dillon and participating in TSC, and coming home to be with her family every weekend.
With the physical demands of the sport, she maintains a healthy diet “to make sure that my body is fueled for training and races,” she said, and stays in top racing form during the offseason by participating in dryland training, including lifting weights and cardiovascular exercises.
Buchhesiter has two cats — Killian and Ash — brothers from a litter of six. “They were each named after a different beer, so we kept the name Killian. Ash’s name was Molson, and we changed it to Ash,” she said with a laugh.
Outside of skiing, Buchheister enjoys biking, hiking and playing golf, but skiing is her first true love. “I love Colorado snow, and I love training out here. The snow can be super perfect — so soft, it makes you feel so good.”
There’s a reason Buchhesiter’s star is sure to rise. As Radamus said, “She’s a wonderful young woman and the kind of athlete that coaches dream of working with, not just because of her athletic ability and commitment, but because of the kind of human being she is.”
By: Jeanne Souldern