Meet The Western Colorado University Freeride Coaches
Western Colorado University's freeride team is led by a talented crew of coaches with extensive, high level experience in skiing and riding. Meet the coaches who create the context for Western athletes to challenge themselves and surpass their goals in the sport, whether they are looking to qualify for the Freeride World Tour or fine-tune a new skill.
Ouray grew up in Denver, but traveled to the Western Slope of Colorado every chance he had during the winters to ski at Monarch Ski Area, just east of Gunnison. Ouray knew he wanted to attend Western for the business school and freeride team, and he did just that. During his final year in college, Ouray transitioned from an athlete to coaching role on the team and has been cultivating a passion for coaching collegiate freeride athletes to their potential ever since. Ouray is also a competitive CrossFit athlete and plays a large role in the team’s dryland training.
Taylor Grauer grew up in Colorado and ski raced at the NCAA level for the University of New Mexico. Following her retirement from competing, she continued coaching and obtained her Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She quickly got out of the city and made her way to Gunnison for the outdoor access. Skiing has and always will be her favorite thing to do and she is very excited to be coaching the Freeride Team at Western.
Justin Abeles is originally from Bethlehem, PA. He has been snowboarding for 24 years and has been instructing/coaching for 8 years. Justin worked for 5 years at Copper/Woodward teaching snowboarding and freestyle coaching. This is his 3rd year at Crested Butte Mountain as an instructor. He has a degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from UVM and is a Navy Veteran. This season, Justin is most excited about getting to coach college athletes and bringing a new perspective to their training. He is also excited to travel with the team, get to know the athletes, and experience the comps.
Ben Thorneycroft (aka Thorney) has been ripping the San Juan’s since before he could remember. Though they started him on skis, the philosophy of single edge drew him in for life. After competing in the FWQs and graduating Western, he couldn’t see a life without that perfect balance of art and sport. Destiny called, creating Coach Thorney, who continues to spread stoke and show others beauty in Freeride.
Ciera grew up on the slopes of the PNW. She came to race NCAA at Western in 2007 and never left. After coaching the Alpine Team for Mountain Sports, she transitioned to coaching Freeride and is excited for another eventful season.