By Jenna Duncan, GMVS correspondent
Although last week thawed slightly more than most may have hoped for, a great ski season seems to be returning as a blanket of new snow covered the mountains Tuesday morning. To celebrate this winter's return, The Valley Reporter will be beginning a series of articles covering the ski racing programs (both alpine and cross country) that The Valley has to offer.
From the steep terrain of Mad River Glen to the rolling trails of Ole's, The Valley has a wide variety of program choices for participating in ski racing. Sugarbush, for example, offers several options for an eager racer. At Lincoln Peak there are two NASTAR racing arenas (the Legend's race arena and the Racer's Edge arena). These courses allow skiers of any ability to race in a dual GS course.
The results of these races are posted on a national register at www.nastar.com, where a skier's age, gender and handicap will determine whether the skier wins a gold, silver or bronze medal. For those who feel that more gate training is needed for the NASTAR courses, Sugarbush offers a race clinic Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, where a beginner racer can become comfortable in gates and be trained in racing fundamentals.
However, for those already comfortable with the basics, the Sugarbush Ski Club allows more advanced young ski racers to become even further involved with the sport. The ski club's 160 participants race in the Northern Vermont Council and train on the weekends when races are not scheduled. The program is about 70 percent free skiing and 30 percent training.
The program's goal, as Coach Jess Reigle says, "is for the kids to be able to ski everything. They need to have the basic fundamentals to ski every black diamond on the mountain before they can become successful racers." Jess' group of 11- and 12-year-olds is on the right track.
She notices that her group enjoys racing most for its ability to include having fun with friends, strong competition, and an outlet for flying down a hill at 30 mph. This love for the sport helps to create the all-around good skier that the club guides its participants towards. Although the racer's enjoyment is the most important thing, Jess also believes that the sport offers lifelong lessons. "The abilities racing teaches you to be a great, well-rounded skier," she says, "are skills you'll have the rest of your life."
Mad River Glen also offers a junior race program with a similar outlook. The program offers basic fundamentals, free skiing technique and race instruction to children ages six to 14. The uniqueness of Mad River's terrain helps hone successful free skiing skills, which the program centers around.
Although race training and participation are important, Mad River believes that the best racers come from good all-around skiers. Their participants race in the Northern Vermont Council as well. Sugarbush's program works with the ability ski racing has to bring a participant life long skills. Mad River's philosophy doesn't fall far from that, as they agree that learning goal-setting, hard work, teamwork and positive competition plays a big role in educating a young racer.
Keep an eye out for coverage of the Green Mountain Valley School, and enjoy this fresh beginning to a wonderful winter!