YEREVAN, Armenia (May 25) – During a visit to Armenia earlier this month, 2010 Olympian and U.S. Alpine Ski Team athlete Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID) met with a group of coaches, athletes and students at the Armenian State Physical Education University in the country’s capital city.
The 10-day trip began as a chance to do some travelling while picking up his sister Carlie from a mission trip, but after an email from Fisher’s friend Arman Serebakian, who is a member of the Armenian National Ski Team and currently a senior on the University of Colorado Ski Team, Fisher found himself connected to Gagik Sargsyan, Secretary General for the Armenian Ski Federation.
Erik Fisher presents at the Armenian State Physical Education University (Shelly Fisher)
“Arman lives in Squaw Valley and when he heard I was headed to Yerevan, he introduced me to Gagik over email and we started planning,” said Fisher. “It came together pretty quickly and was an amazing experience. Gagik showed me around and then we spent a few hours at the University talking skiing.”
According to Sargsyan, who is a member of the faculty, the university is the top professional facility for sport studies in Armenia.
“We decided to invite Erik to Tsakhkadzor Ski Resort in Armenia which is where our national teams are train and where we organize FIS races,” said Sargsyan. “After visiting Tsakhkadzor Erik met with the Armenian Ski Federation’s vice presidents, national team head coaches, athletes, lecturers, specialists and students at the Armenian State Physical Education University. This was a very important opportunity for us as the Armenian Ski Federation continues to develop as an organization.”
In a room full of around 80 people, including Armenian television and print news crews, Carlie provided translation as Fisher spoke about the U.S. alpine skiing development pipeline.
“Everyone was pretty excited that I was there,” added Fisher. “I pretty much spoke about what it takes to become a professional ski racer in the U.S. and then walked them through some typical workouts both in the gym and on snow.”
Post lecture, Fisher fielded questions then met with University President Vahram Araqelyan.
“Mr. Aragelyan mentioned that Erik’s visit was very important for all of us and special exchange of experience is very useful,” said Sargsyan. “The meeting was a great success not only among the students but also among the specialists. The ideas presented by Erik will be used by our specialists and coaches in their future practice.
The president of the Armenian Ski Federation Armen Yeritsyan also highly appreciated Erik’s visit to Armenia. It was the first co-operation with the USA Alpine representatives, and we think that the co-operation from our two sides will continue and deepen.”
To continue the relationship, Fisher is working to build program with ski swaps around Idaho and Utah where unsold and unclaimed equipment is sent to the Armenian Ski Federation for free distribution to young athletes.
“I’ve been involved in the Bogus Basin ski swap in the past and there’s always a truckload of stuff that isn’t picked up. A lot of it is great equipment and unfortunately probably ends up in a landfill,” said Fisher. “I’d like to start a program where all that stuff is gathered and sent to Armenia. They have a lot of passion for skiing over there and I want to support that.”
While planning is still in the initial stages, Fisher hopes to have the program ready to go by next fall and the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation has already pledged their support with equipment. Additionally, Foundation Head Coach Steve Smart says plans are in the works to adopt the Armenian Ski Federation as their sister program.
To support Fisher’s effort, go to www.erikfisherusa.com .
A full photo gallery of his trip is available at http://ussa.smugmug.com/