Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lake Placid Ski Jumping Clinic - Fun and Games

For the past four years we have been invited to have our son participate in the annual ski jumping clinics at MacKenzie-Intervale Jumping Complex. My husband and I embrace the idea. What an opportunity to experience something so few other regions have, an Olympic facility near by with coaches and experienced staff of World Championship caliber. Each year my son declines.

For the first time, at no encouragement from us, he decided that he wanted to see what the big deal was all about. A friend was going and there was a mention of snacks.

We hung out with other families while my son practiced on the play hill, playing games, taking jumps the size of moguls he encounters regularly while downhill skiing. The coaches eased even the most reluctant skier down the hill with fun play and games.

The group then moved to the 5-meter hill where the children lined up and did easy jumps. It was all done with a nice transition and sense of play. Much to our surprise our son went with the 30 other kids kicking off their skis and hiking up the 18-meter jump.

Though some children eventually transitioned to the starting gate (top) most continued to get the feel for the sport by beginning at the landing zone (the curved section that allows the jumper to soar in the air.) Either way there was never any pressure and always the emphasis on having fun.

My first child doesn’t seem to want to pursue anything beyond this one clinic. We assure him that is fine. He never would have known if he hadn’t tried. My second child just shrugs her shoulders. She says she’ll try anything once she learns how to stop.

The “Learn to Fly” program is organized by NYSEF assistant ski jumping coaches Evan Bliss and David McCahill with the goal of exposing children six years of age and older, with prior cross country or downhill experience, to the sport of ski jumping. The next date for the clinic is February 24 from 3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Any NYSEF members are free otherwise the clinic is $5.00. For more information go to www.nysef.org or e-mail Evan Bliss at blisster101@yahoo.com. Please bring skis, boots and helmets. There are some helmets available at check-in.

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