Jim Stanley

2022 marks Coach Stan’s second season as the HRT Director of Coaches and his seventh as part of the coaching program. He brings to HRT an instructional approach rooted in the importance of the skiing fundamentals and a “process over product” framework that develops physically and mentally strong skiers. Coach Stan enthusiastically reminds HRT athletes that “hard work and dedication can be just as powerful as natural talent.”

Before coaching, Stan worked for Nordica for eight years, including three years operating its Race Test Center in Mt. Hood, Oregon. Though he has been an alpine racer since age four, he is equally happy out on the water and enjoys boating during the warmer months. When asked what makes him most excited about this season, he shared, “It’s the passion of the kids to succeed in whatever goal they have. It’s an honor to be a part of that.”

Ayden Ferris

Coach Ayden Ferris has been part-time coaching for the team since he was a high school student, and before that, he was an HRT racer himself. Now a first-year college student at NMC, Coach Ayden is transitioning from his role as a distinguished three season-high school athlete and taking on more duties as an alpine racing coach.

Hintertux, Austria, is Ayden’s most loved ski locale (other than Mt. Holiday, obvs), and Mikaela Shiffrin his favorite skier to watch. An athlete through and through, Coach Ayden proudly shares that he was able to be part of state championship games in all three of his senior year sports teams at Traverse City St. Francis: baseball, football, and alpine racing. 

Coach Ayden sees sports as far more than the competition, “There are too many life lessons to list from sports in general. For example, self-discipline, selflessness, independence, confidence, etc.” When not at The Hill, Ayden is content with a Philly Cheese Steak and watching his favorite movie, Thor Ragnarok. Thanks for all you do, Coach Ayden!

Lauren Ferris

Coach Lauren Ferris has been skiing since she was three years old and alpine racing since age five. These years of experience have helped inform her larger philosophy about racing that places team culture over external rewards.

“Athletics is not all about winning- if a team is having fun and working together, greater things than a trophy will happen,” she shares.

In the spring of 2022, Coach Lauren completed her bachelor’s degree and plans to attend graduate school in the near future. In the meantime, observing racers’ development brings her joy as a coach.

“I love seeing the growth and improvement throughout the season in all of the kids,” she notes.

Thank you for all you do, Coach Lauren! We are lucky to have you at HRT!

Eric Shutler

Though he loves to watch the HRT athletes and pros, Coach Eric Shutler’s favorite skiers are his kids.  When it comes to a coaching approach, Eric guides HRT racers to bring their best effort and develop agency.

“Practice like it’s a race or competition. Own your craft!” Coach Eric shares.

Happiest when around good people, preferably on a boat or a ski hill, Eric also enjoys the comforts of Sports Center and Wild Bery Skittles. Outside of Mt. Holiday, his other favorite ski hills are in Europe, particularly Austria.

Coach Eric cites racer development as a favorite feature of every season.

“Watching racers grow is rewarding,” he shares. “We see how an athlete begins in week one and how they grow by week eight.”

Thanks for all you have done and continue to do for HRT, coach!

Ben Ferris

If you are new to HRT and don’t recognize Coach Ben’s face, you might recognize his voice. He and his wife Kerri share race announcing duties for the HRT Sunday club races, where the Ferris family has been a mainstay for nearly two decades. Coach Ben quickly smiles and shares his enthusiasm for life with others. He wants HRT racers to know: “The learning never stops, just like the playing. Make it fun, and it will be forever. Live the life YOU love!”  

When he isn’t guiding alpine racers, Ben teaches high school Spanish and summertime sailing classes. He is proud to share with HRT families that he has studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador, and led several mission trips in Central America. A well-traveled human, Ben’s favorite place to ski is British Columbia, but he is quick to note that his happiest moments are “at Mt. Holiday Sundays with my whole darn family….. Still!! Love to watch them even as adults!!”

Aleksa Szunco

Coach Aleksa Szuno relocated to Traverse City in October 2021 after four years of fundraising in Indianapolis. She guided high school and college students to fundraise $500,000 for a local children’s hospital. Those experiences in development and her passion for community helped her land new roles as an events coordinator at Jacob’s Farm in Traverse City and an HRT coach.

Skiing since she could walk and racing at age 5, Coach Aleksa’s extensive knowledge of the sport makes her well-suited to observe and assess athletic development. When asked what she is most excited about this season, Aleksa quickly shares, “Seeing progress in both the skiers and myself as a coach!”

Aleksa loves pork belly nachos from Rare Bird but is happiest eating a porch meal with her family, accompanied by a northern Michigan sunset. Welcome to HRT, Coach Aleksa!

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