Fishers have found home at Dodge Ridge after chasing Olympic dreams

February 10, 2009 

No more Olympic coaching for Corby and Emily Fisher. No more globetrotting. No more hobnobbing with the winter world's elite.

Instead, they find their fun raising a family at Dodge Ridge. There's Keely, 20 months old, already on skis, imploring, "Faster, Dad!" There's Zane, 5 months old, who's already figured out that snow is cold but beautiful.

"Life has changed a bit, but it's better," Corby says. "This is the coolest thing I've ever done."

The Fishers, both 33, have discovered their ideal nest at Dodge Ridge. He's the resort's snow sports director. She's the marketing director.

"Corby said they saw in Dodge Ridge a resort with heart," Dodge owner Sally Helm said. "They truly get it."

Corby and Emily arrived two years ago, a couple eager to start a family and also pass along their rich experience. They've shared their expertise in everything from development of terrain parks, to ski instruction, to starting Dodge's first Winter Carnival later this month.

But, true to the Dodge Ridge reputation, family comes first.

"We wanted to take a step back and focus on family and enjoy this part of our lives," Emily said. "Dodge brings me back to my roots."

Emily spent her childhood in Hanover, N.H., and competed in cross country skiing as the team captain at Middlebury College (Vt.). Meanwhile, Corby was immersed into the rodeo-summer-skiing-winter genre as a kid at Steamboat Springs, Colo. For him, it was perfectly natural to ride bulls, jump out of planes and race down the mountain as fast as possible.

"Fear is kind of an illusion," he says.

The couple met in Park City, Utah, in 2000, while Corby served as the coach and director of the National Sports Foundation. He sought a woman who could identify talent for a new discipline -- women's ski jumping. Emily, a flyer herself as a teenager who later migrated to Park City to work for the U.S. Ski Team, took the interview. They were married three years later.

"He always says, 'I put an ad in the paper for a coach and found a wife,'" she said.

They glided together through two Olympic cycles leading to the Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2002 and Torino, Italy, in 2006. Emily, employed as the program manager for the national team for 10 years, took pride in the development of Korean-American Toby Dawson. In 2006, Dawson earned a bronze medal in moguls at Torino.

Corby, a former student at Wyoming and Utah, made his coaching mark via breakthrough international results in ski jumping. His NSF grew into the largest club in North America and was the host club for the Olympic ski jumping in 2002.

He then became the head ski jumping coach for the U.S. Nordic Combined Team and, in 2003, guided Johnny Spillane to the first-ever gold medal by an American at the Nordic World Ski Championships. In 2006, Fisher again made history as the youngest head coach at Torino.

"The older we get, the more special those times get for us at Torino," Corby says.

Emily's determination to pioneer women's ski jumping has not waned. The event will make its debut in the upcoming World Championships in the Czech Republic, though its coming-out party in the Olympics probably won't happen until 2014.

Still, the couple has deferred virtually all world-wide pursuits in favor of their children. Corby reluctantly has walked away from bull riding and skydiving.

"That was part of the deal," Emily said.

Retorts Corby, "My last skydive was 20 months ago. I'm trying to grow out of it."

Regardless, the essential question remains for the Fishers: Why Dodge Ridge?

"After skiing around the world, from Steamboat to Sestriere, I was looking for a great spot to share my love of snow sports," Corby said. "Skiing has been great for us, and all we want is to share our passion with everyone in Northern California. But it baffles me that one hour from Dodge, people are golfing."

The Fishers live in Strawberry, about as far away from Steamboat and Hanover as one might imagine. But for them and their children, it is the best of all worlds for one reason.

It's home.

Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or 578-2302.

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