By Ryan Massad, Contributing Writer
Region – As the 2012 season approaches, Ski Ward looks to add depth to its celebrated race team.
Thanks to the television coverage of the Winter Olympics, nearly everyone has an image of a ski racing competition. These world-class competitors are seen hurtling down icy slopes at speeds usually reserved for the highway. But the fact is, even these amazing athletes had to begin somewhere.
Although central Massachusetts has never been known as a hotbed of ski racing activity, there is one very successful ski program that has been operating just below the radar for many years now. The Ski Ward Race Team (SWRT) has built a reputation as the consistent front-runner in the Eastern Mass Buddy Warner Ski League (EMBWL), having won eight out of the last 10 EMBWL championships. Of course, like most success stories, it didn’t just happen. The program succeeds due to superior organization, volunteerism and leadership.
For many new and developing skiers between the ages of 5 and 17, the program is an ideal way to improve technique and to test oneself in competition. The weekly schedule consists of a team practice on Friday nights and a ski race each Sunday. Although some races are held at Ski Ward, others are held at local ski areas including Ski Bradford, Nashoba, Bogastow and Prospect Hill. The season typically goes from mid-January until mid-March, and includes a very manageable schedule.
The near 140-member team is coached by certified ski instructors with years of experience.
“We have some great coaches helping us,” Team President Chris Bersani said. “Our racers are well prepared and the results are proof.”
Bersani is just one of the parents who volunteer their time to make up the board of directors. The board is composed of five members, most with children on the team, who handle all the tasks and deadlines so the season can proceed smoothly. Although the board is strictly volunteer, board members find satisfaction in seeing their young skiers progressing and building new relationships. Bersani himself has two kids on the team, his son, Peter, and his daughter, Sophia.
Last season, members of the Ski Ward team found individual glory March 6, 2010, at Bradford ski area on their way to winning the 2011 EMBWL championship race. The older J2 and J3 divisions were both won by Ski Ward racers. Kasey Smart took home first place in the boy's J2 division with a time of 51:01 (two runs combined.) Carter Reynolds won the J3, finishing with a time of 50:31. The Ski Ward girls took home silver in those divisions, as Sabina Spofford finished with 53:02, and Amy Tournas came in at 55:46. Max Scerbin placed third in the J6 boys division with a time of 29:01. Max's sister, Sophie Scerbin, found herself atop the podium, winning the girls J6 division with a time of 30:06. The team had a memorable day racking up three first-place finishes, three second-place finishes, and a bronze medal.
This year's team looks just as competitive, with most of the skiers returning to the squad. So for a fun activity, with a convenient schedule, and an assembly of great role models, look no further than the Ski Ward race team. For more information about joining this year's team, visit www.skiwardraceteam.com or email [email protected].