The youngest racers at Ski Ward
By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – How does someone who grew up in Capetown, South Africa, become a coordinator for the youngest racers at Ski Ward? Anthony Rosenkrantz started skiing at Loon Mountain in Waterville, Maine, in the late 1990s. He used the convenient ski area in Shrewsbury as a place to learn to ski and fell in love with the sport.
Rosenkrantz had a close friend who had been involved with race teams for almost 15 years and talked him into being a coach and coordinator for the youngest skiers, the 5- to 7-year-olds. The classification for the youngest skiers is U-8, standing for under 8 years old.
When his daughter Anna started skiing at age 5, Rosenkrantz became a coach. Now 8, Anna is looking forward to another race season. She explained why she loves being on the ski team.
“It’s enjoyable to talk to your friends and have fun,” she said. “I like going down the hills fast. I’m not scared anymore.”
She added, “To get ready for skiing, first go down a small mountain and make turns. It’s a fun place to play.”
The Ski Ward Race Team is a nonprofit, junior ski racing organization whose mission is to encourage, promote, and advance the sport of ski racing for youngsters aged 5 to 17. According to Ski Ward, the program is founded on the philosophy that sound racing techniques evolve from sound skiing techniques and that the learning process should be a positive and fulfilling experience.
What does a child need for basic skills to be considered for the race team? Prospective members must be able to ski from the top of Ski Ward with no assistance and be able to ride the T-bar or chairlift without adult assistance.
“Kids like it,” Rosenkrantz said. “They work well together. They’re well behaved, and the parents are very involved. The sport is not as expensive as one might think, especially when you’re in the local districts.”
The team fees include training at two sessions a week, one practice, and one race. If a season ticket is purchased early, there is a significant discount. Renting equipment is recommended for the little ones because they grow so fast. Local sporting goods supply packages by the season.
As a coach, Rosenkrantz makes a commitment of about 10 hours a week; four hours for practice and four to six hours on race days.
His younger daughter, Lauren, who is five, also skis.
“My dad teaches me skiing,” she said. “You have to make a pizza stop [making your skis in the shape of a ‘v’]. I like to go slow.”
Added her dad, “At this age, the number one attraction is socialization. They learn to ski straight, make turns, and how to stop. The biggest benefit for me is being involved with one of the few life sports you can do with your kids.”
“You can see a dramatic improvement in the kids’ ski technique within weeks. It’s amazing how fast they learn,” said Rosenkrantz.
He feels that once the children grasp the proper techniques and basic skills, parents don’t have to worry about their offspring skiing fast. Older ski team members help the little kids.
“There’s a good deal of camaraderie between the team members. It’s not cutthroat competition, and it’s good exercise,” Rosenkrantz said. “Because Ward Hill is so small, the chance of getting hurt is negligible compared to other mountains.”
Ski Ward doesn’t limit the number on its ski team. Usually there is one coach for every four or five kids. Team members win medals, ribbons, trophies, and prizes. They must wear helmets for protection along with club jackets of black, white, and blue.
The season starts in early January, consists of eight races, and end with an award ceremony. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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