Nichole Mason has always loved being on the snow.
This was evident from her first moments in Summit County after her family moved to the area when she was in her third year.
It was in Summit County that Mason and his brother, Ethan, made the transition from skiing to snowboarding, which sparked a lifelong love of the sport for siblings and laid the foundation for Nichole Mason’s efforts to adults.
Mason was a member of the Copper Mountain Resort Team Summit from grade six to his senior year of high school, competing on the circuit in halfpipe snowboard, snowboard cross and slopestyle competitions. It was with Team Summit that his love for the sport truly blossomed.
After graduating from Summit High School in 2007, Mason decided to get away from the sport by attending Metropolitan State University in Denver. However, it wasn’t long before she felt like she was missing a piece of her.
“When I was in Denver, something was wrong,” Mason said. “It was almost like I lost a little piece of my soul. I was like, ‘I just don’t belong in town. I miss snowboarding.
Mason found solace in the mountains by landing a position as a snowboard instructor at the Loveland Ski Area on weekends while attending school.
As a snowboard instructor, it didn’t take long for Mason to make connections that would open doors for him for years to come.
“Through the vine, I reconnected with Laura Munch,” Mason said. “She was actually one of my coaches when I was on Team Summit, and I told her my ultimate goal was to someday become a high performance coach.”
From there, Mason began his tenure as a snowboard coach, dropping out of school with a leadership degree in outdoor education, but giving up his second degree in sports psychology.
Mason started out as a substitute coach with Team Summit and slowly began to move up the coaching ranks.
“For me it was so cool,” Mason said. “It was kind of a full circle where I was an athlete on the team, and now I had this great opportunity to start coaching for them.”
In the years to come, Mason would take on many different roles as a snowboard coach, moving from backup coach to weekend coach with Team Summit, helping with Adaptive Action Sports, and ProAm coach with Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard.
During Mason’s five years with Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboarding, she began to make her mark as a coach, including coaching local Silverthorne Chris Corning directly to the US Pro team. Corning then qualified for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at the age of 17 and most recently placed second in the slopestyle competition at the Winter Dew Tour 2021.
Mason went on to become a coach with US Ski & Snowboard and was nominated for Development and National Coach of the Year in 2017. In 2020, she was the first woman to win the International Coach of the Year award. in addition to being named overall coach of the year.
Despite a successful year as a coach, Mason felt his heart pulled towards something else during the 2020 pandemic.
“During my quarantine a few doors kind of opened, and I ended up taking that leap of faith,” Mason said. “I ended up quitting an extremely secure job amid the pandemic. “
Mason, now 32, started her own training program, One Team, based in Summit County to give back to the community that cared so much about her as a young snowboarder.
“The main reason I coach is to give back to help these athletes reach their goals and be successful because I had that person in my life, and that was special,” said Mason. “I get my happiness seeing other people succeed and knowing that we have made it together.”
Mason’s training program takes a holistic approach in hopes of developing young snowboarders. A team focuses on all aspects of an athlete, from the athlete’s body to their mind.
Mason has a full time tumbling trainer and sports psychologist to teach his athletes how to do aerial jumps without equipment and to help them overcome any mental challenges they may face.
“I think that’s a pretty important missing piece to the puzzle. There are so many coaches who just focus on the snow, ”Mason said. “I have seen a lot of riders excel who have a background in gymnastics or trampoline.”
In the team’s second season, Mason is already seeing success coaching four full-time and two part-time athletes in the disciplines of slopestyle, big air and snowboard cross with a few of his athletes in competition at World Cup level.
One of its athletes, 16-year-old Fynn Bullock-Womble and a member of the US slopestyle snowboard rookie team, is currently trying to qualify for the 2022 US Olympic team.
Bullock-Womble, originally from North Carolina, spends his winters at Copper Mountain to train with Mason.
“She’s always super positive and is there for me on and on the snow,” Bullock-Womble said of Mason. “She helped me improve my snowboard and helped me put things on the line in big contests, which led to some great finishes. “
In Mason’s eyes, One Team is still in its infancy, and she has big dreams about where the training program could develop over the next few years, both in terms of athletes and coaches. The program also has a partnership with Adaptive Action Sports.
“We’re going to continue to really want to have this team as a family,” Mason said. “Really focusing on giving back to the community, increasing our numbers and allowing this adaptive partnership to really flourish so that you can see the benefits and excitement of able-bodied runners and adapted runners training them. with each other. “
Those interested in learning more about the program can visit OneTeamInt.com