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Independence Race Team

The Independence Race Team is a truly non-profit organization.  Our athletes range from 6 - 16 years of age.  Most of the children are from blue collar families who otherwise could not afford to be involved with ski racing.  Members are responsible for lift tickets/season’s passes, ski gear, and race entry fees.  There are no charges for coaching, use of equipment or insurance.  The original six families involved became a close-knit support group, which generously volunteered time to team activities year-round.  That tradition continues to this day. 

It's been a winding road to this point - the plan was not originally to start a race team. Here's how it evolved:

  • In 1998-1999 Shep Snow decided to renew his USSA alpine coaches license so his two children could race as “Independents” without joining a structured race program.  As time passed they enjoyed some pretty significant success.  There were some misunderstandings from other parents, but there was also a great deal of interest from local kids.  Most kids in Bonner County can hardly afford a season pass, let alone membership on a USSA race club.   

  • The same year Shep hosted a Christmas ski camp for a few local kids.  His children were the only two with substantial ski experience.  Some of the others had never skied -- some were plucked straight off the soccer field based upon their athleticism, attitude and interest. We skied together informally the entire season with our focus on trees, powder and occasional NASTAR runs.  One of our racers finished ranked #1 for his age group nationally. 

  • In September 2000 Shep and his friend, Reidar Wahl (former World Pro Champion) co-hosted our first Mt Hood race camp for local children. The race camp was likewise non-profit.  The kids did car washes and picked huckleberries all summer to fund the camp.  We stayed at a campground and cooked over the fire to further reduce the cost, which averaged $362 per child!!   The cost included one rapid gate purchased by each child. Shep purchased a drill and some hero gates. 

  • During the 2000-2001 season we became more active, training as a group one day per weekend and racing NASTAR regularly.  We never set gates – just free skied and worked on stance and technique.  All “team” members joined USSA and raced in a few events.  We dominated J6/J5 racing locally against clubs 10 times our size.  We also sent two racers to NASTAR nationals and took 1st for 7-8 year old boys and 3rd for 9-10 year old girls.  Shep and Reidar Wahl ran our second annual race camp at Mt Hood in June 2001.  During the summer Schweitzer Resort management advised us we couldn’t ski together unless we obtained a $2 mil insurance policy... we looked too much like a team.  

  • In 2001-2002 we registered as a USSA team (Independence) and a personal friend of Shep’s became our insurance benefactor.  This would not have been possible without the great deal offered through USSA.  We trained 2-3 days per week (four days for selected members) and modified our training philosophy.  We set gates on Friday afternoon before the kids arrived in the team van (Shep traded the family car for a used 15 pax van), and they got 3 hours of focused slalom work.  Saturdays and Sundays we did some drills, but mostly free skied, with a couple of NASTAR runs each day.  Selected members also trained on Wednesdays.   

  • We had big results both in USSA and NASTAR during the 2001-2002 season, and sent our first three racers ever to the Pacific Northwest 12 and under Championships (Buddy Werner) in March.  One eight-year-old boy finished 30th of 150, beating all but one J5 and one eleven year old girl was 27th of 154.  We also took three racers to NASTAR Nationals in Park City.  We collected one 7-8 year-old Expert Division Boys Championship, a fifth place in the 11-12 year old Expert Girls Division and a 10th place in the 13-14 year old Boys Recreational Division.  We hosted two race camps at Mt Hood that summer in tandem with the Silver Mountain team, and ran our own race camp in September. 

  • The 2002 –2003 season was similarly successful, although the wins were spread over more of the membership.  Every racer hit the podium at least once.  One racer was the highest WC point earner for his age group, plus first to be “bumped-up” a group in the league.  We took 4 racers to Buddy Werner Championships and one finished 18th in Slalom and 13th in GS of 150 girls present. We finished the season with racers ranked #1, #2, and #4 for their age groups in NASTAR and took 7 racers to Nationals, gaining two podiums, plus 4th, 7th and 9th place finishes. 

  • The 2003-2004 season saw even more growth.  We added another volunteer coach, Scott Barksdale, and increased our training tempo.  During the summer we conducted four training camps at Mt Hood.  We also had one racer selected to an elite camp in Canada, held in November.  Nearly all of our racers hit the podium at least once.  Four of our boys were top five in World Cup point standings for the league trophy.  One 10-year-old boy was 8th overall at the Buddy Werner Championships.  The same fellow won the NASTAR National Championship for 9-10 year-old boys.  Our only “Junior” racer (age 13 and up) qualified for Junior Olympics and was named to the PNSA JO team in her first year of eligibility. 

  • During the 2004 off-season several of our older racers who got a late start in the game departed.  We picked-up two additional coaches Sean McAllister and Tod Wehse), one with USSA coaching experience and one PSIA Level III instructor.  We filled our vacancies with 8 new athletes in the 6-9 year old age range and trained in two groups for the first time, J4 and above and J3 and below. 

  • The 2004-2005 season brought the team more success, despite record low snowfalls.  One athlete was selected to Junior Olympics for the second time, and this year went as the top seed from the Northwest in all events. Another athlete was voted top J4 Boy in the region and went on to win his 4th NASTAR National Championship.  We also took the overall NASTAR National Championship for Women, with that athlete beating all 600 female competitors of all age groups. 

  • The 2005-2006 season brought more change to the team.  We added several new families, lost a coach and began training three new coaches (all racer parents).  Matt Diel, Kendon Perry and Bruce Demko became regular coaches and Shep Snow began the first of several years living out of a suitcase. This season we improved our fund-raising efficiency to pay for registrations, insurance and coaches training.  We also purchased a digital timing system. 

  • The 2006-7 season brought even more new members and the loss of a few charter members.  The team continued to flourish, sending another athlete to J3 Junior Olympics and several to NASTAR Nationals.  That year we added off season strength training for younger members on a voluntary basis. 

  • The 2007-8 season was very successful indeed.  We sent our largest contingent in years to Buddy Werner Championships where they all skied well.  One J5 boy, Cory Diel, was 3d place in the individual league standings. Scott Snow had a banner year, winning the Topolino Shootout and representing the USA at the FIS Children’s World Championships in Italy.  He also won the Overall PNSA J3 Championship, took a Gold and two Silvers at the Junior Olympics and was selected to represent the USA at the Whistler Cup.  He ended the year as an athlete in the USST Development System.  Sadly, the team lost our final Hanson (Raleigh) this year. 

  • The 2008-9 season was another great one for the team.  Our youngest group of J6s really started to shine and attended all races, having a great time.  Our J3/4 group also had a good season posting solid results in EEYSL league races and the NW championships.  Scott Snow, our only FIS racer finished the year ranked #1 in the world for downhill and #3 in the world for Super G in his age group.  He also was the Silver Medalist in Downhill and Gold medalist in Super G at US Junior Nationals, earning a start position at the US Alpine Championships.  He was selected to the Western Region ski team for 2009-10 and renewed as a National Development Athlete. 

  • In 2009-10 we had another busy year at the races with several breakthroughs at the J6 and J5 levels.  Cory Diel finished 5th overall in the league on the season for J4s and skied well at Buddy Werner Championships.  Scott Snow took two Golds (DH and Super G) and a Bronze in GS at Junior Nationals and made criteria for US Ski Team selection as its youngest member at age 16. 

  • The 2010-11 season brought new faces into the program and a new coach, Karen Brenner.  Karen is a valuable addition to our staff.   Cory Diel put in his first season as an Alpine Competitor (junior) and skied all of the Junior Olympic Qualifiers.  He had a good season and decided to race another year as a Junior. Scott Snow met criteria for a second year with the US Ski Team. 

  • 2011-12 – Cory Diel qualified for his second Junior Olympics. Scott Snow left USST at the end of the season. 

  • 2012-13 – Scott Snow became our first Division I NCAA racer. 

  • 2018 – Jill Edmundson completed her Level 100 and joined the coaching staff 

  • 2019 – Erika Edmundson won the Buddy Werner slalom title and went to the U12 Regional Championships. 

  • 2020 – Added Doug Johnston to the coaching staff 

  • 2021 – Added Eric Stephany to the coaching staff 

  • 2023 – Added Tyler Meyers and Shannon Johnston to the coaching staff. 


We work equipment deals each year and are able to find enough pairs of close-out skis to outfit all of our racers on new gear.  We have a “pole party” each fall and everyone swaps down to minimize the need for purchases.  Periodically we do tuning clinics to spread the workload, and now all families are self sufficient in that category.  We still have no uniforms, but nearly every racer has a speed suit thanks to the generosity of older racers and other teams. 


The kids continue to work to fund their own racing. We work car washes scheduled every Saturday all summer to pay for camps, registrations and personal equipment.  Our car wash is rather unique.  Each spring the racers provide their financial goals.  Some of the younger racers only work enough to pay for their season pass or a set of skis.  Others work a lot of weekends to pay for special training camps, etc.  Some earn as much as $1500 per year.  Our car wash has been at the same location for seventeen years and has an excellent reputation.  About 80% of our clients are returning customers.  The children are scheduled to work enough washes to meet their goals.  At the end of each day, they split the money into equal shares amongst those who worked and take it home.  The only requirement is that their earnings are spent on skiing. 


These kids are great.  All of them want to be fast.  None of them complain.  All are there because they want to race, not because their parents want them to race.  Every one of these kids genuinely cares about each other.  They swim together, BBQ together and train together year-round.  The kids are in the same soccer leagues, baseball leagues. 


Past and Present Athletes: 



(Bold = Founding Athlete)

Finan Andersen 

Peik Andersen 

Alexander Baker 

Kendra Barksdale 

Laura Boge 

Baden Brenner 

Catherine Brenner 

Mica Carierre-Hickox 

Chris Cordova 

Ethan Cox 

Michael Demko  

Brayden Demko 

Nathan Demko 

Cory Diel  

Jake Diel 

Quinn Donnelly 

Sarah Donnelly 

Avery Edmundson 

Erika Edmundson 

Slate Fragoso  

Addy Gordon 

Emmie Gordon 

Christian Hanson  

Raleigh Hanson  

Spencer Hanson  

Jezza Hutto 

Cory Johnston 

Logan Johnston

Rory Johnston 

Collin Jurenka 

Emily Jurenka 

Luke Koch 

Mason Kreidler 

Matyas Kreidler  

Miles Kreidler  

Cali McAllister 

Brenden McCoy  

Aksel Meyers 

Sierra Meyers 

Emma Millar 

Luke Miller 

Cody Oppelt  

Patrick Orton

Aubrie Perry 

Kyle Perry 

Bode Ross 

Summer Ross 

Crosby Schmidt 

James Schriber 

Alex Shrack 

Wesley Simko 

Bonnie Snow 

Scott Snow

Myriah Stenvers 

Faith Stephany 

Gerhart Suppiger 

Dylan Vogel 

Eric Wehse  

Niko Wehse

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