K. Bone, contributing teen writer 

 

 

Ignacia Birkner, or Nacho as he’s known by friends, had a world-class career in one of Utah’s favorite sports — alpine skiing. After competing in the 1988 Calgary Olympics for Argentina, he brought his passion and skill for the sport to Cache Valley where he founded the Beaver Mountain Ski Team in 2005. Now called the Cache Valley Ski Team (CVST), the club has grown significantly, establishing a legacy of excellent coaches and youth skiers.

Now coached by Ignacia’s niece Angelica, sister Teresita, Rafael Pastoriza, and team alumna Maya Stephens, CVST is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating character and building opportunities for youth through individual and team achievement in downhill skiing. The team has grown in the last three seasons from 19, to 29, and now to 45 skiers.

Team members have a rigorous training schedule and enjoy strong friendships with one another. They also benefiet from excellent coaching and opportunities that can take them around the world. Travis Dorsch, team director and former National Football League player, is grateful for the opportunities that CVST provides.

“Cache Valley Ski Teams have a rich Legacy … there’s a strong South American connection and we’ll likely be pulling together a group of athletes who want to go south this summer to find winter down there.”

Travis is also the father of Josie Dorsch, one of the ski team’s most successful athletes. At the age of 8, Josie has competed in Youth Ski League (YSL) races, winning first in the 2022 YSL Kombi, third in the YSL Slalom, and first in the Giant Slalom. Josie is a fierce and dedicated competitor who says she can’t remember the first time she skied. It’s always been part of her life. As her father Travis explains, she was on skies before she was one year old.

Top: At 17 years old, Belle Weed is the longest tenured athlete on Cache Valley Ski Team. She’s grateful for excellent coaching over the years and a family atmosphere on the team; Bottom: Cache Valley Ski Team was founded in 2005 and now includes about 45 skiers who train six days a week.

The Dorsch family chases the snow locally, nationally, and even internationally. Josie’s mom, Bre, and 6-year-old brother, Bridger, also ski. Bridger is a CVST member. Skiing has taken them on a lot of adventures where they’ve skied a lot of famous mountains and world cup venues throughout Europe.

“Skiing was always in our blood,” Travis said. “It’s more than a sport; it’s a way of life. You get up in the mountains where it’s our refuge and place of solace.”

Josie adds, “This summer we’re going to Argentina, when the season ends in May we’ll ski there and then we’ll come back to another ski season … so basically one month of summer!”

That’s just the way Josie likes it. Josie, along with the entire team, trains on weeknights at Cherry Peak and the weekends at Beaver. Last year, Josie had 122 ski days and her goal is to get in 200 ski days in 2023. The training pays off, with one or two races a month during the season.

Skiing doesn’t come easy; the work required is constant. “Basically everything about skiing is hard,” Josie said. “We’ve been working on some skills for three years.” For example, to help with body positioning, Travis built a device that simulates turning and helps Josie and Bridger learn the right body position and work on balance. They do these stretches daily. But it’s not all work. Josie really enjoys skiing and having lunch in the Beaver Lodge with teammates every Saturday and Sunday.

“The team is really an extension of a family,” Travis said. “You should have seen it on Saturday for our intersquad race; as the racers were coming down, the rest were waiting at the bottom cheering.”

A close friend and mentor for Josie is teammate Belle Weed. Belle is a 17-year-old Logan High School student who has raced since she was 11. She is the longest tenured athlete on CVST and competes in the U19 division. Belle is passionate about skiing and feels it teaches individual accountability more than other sports. “If I succeed or fail, it’s on me,” she said.

Belle says it’s been very fulfilling to watch the younger skiers grow in life and the sport. Belle also sees their team as close as a family.

“I love the team because it’s all about love. And I love skiing; it’s everything to me,” Belle said. “I try very hard to be a positive role model for the younger skiers.”

When asked about advice to others about seriously taking on skiing, she responds, “If skiing means a lot to you, pursue it; don’t force it. Make sure you have the heart for it before you make the commitment. I’ll ski until I can’t anymore, or until my body won’t.”

With the great skiing Cache Valley offers, it’s only fitting that its youth ski team would be just as great. Along with skiing opportunities, CVST offers world-class coaching, discounted season passes, and frequent race opportunities. It’s the premier option for youth looking to pursue the sport of alpine skiing.