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Calling All Youth: Let’s Ski the CSM Together!
By:  Parham Momtahan   (2011/11/25)

The CSM provides a great venue for all young skiers, whether they are involved with racing programs, non-racing programs, or no formal programs at all, to come together for fun, socializing, and a healthy challenge.
Most cross country ski clubs in Canada follow the excellent Cross Country Canada Long Term Athlete Development program. Bunnyrabbits and Jackrabbits learn to ski and develop foundation skills. Then with increasing age and physical development, young skiers learn to train, train more specifically for racing skills, and then focus on racing. Racing can be a lot of fun and provide enriching life experiences. And, not least, it helps grow our future podium athletes who can inspire us to be more active and ski better.
There are also multitudes of pre-teenagers and teenagers who just love to be out there.
They enjoy the company of ski friends, the thrills of skillfully skiing challenging terrain, the joys of going for as long as they choose, and perhaps even the experience of camping out in winter. Timed and ranked racing is not a major interest for all of them. But the development of our young people who are less interested in the racing track is equally important.

Fortunately, an increasing number of ski clubs are recognizing that having non-racing development programs complements the racing development and provides greater opportunities, and participation, for all young people.

The Nakkertok Cross Country Ski Club, with a large racing program, also has an Adventure Program that is “… designed specifically for skiers between the ages of 11-18 keen to develop their skiing fitness and have a variety of fun outdoor experiences. It is significantly more than the Learn to Ski -Level 4 Program with the inclusion of the dry land activities beginning in September, a wider variety of outdoor experiences and on snow sessions twice a week in the winter. Athletes are encouraged to establish personal fitness goals and strive to achieve or exceed them through their participation in the Adventure Program and others activities that they may be involved in.” Last year, Neil Fisher who leads the program, had over a dozen youth adventurers participating in the CSM all with their own individual goals, and the common goal of fun and camaraderie: “It was a great learning experience and at the end, many were talking about goals for the following year. Staying at the auberge together was fun. Everyone helped with meals and cleanup. And riding the CSM buses together was a lot of fun.” 

The Chelsea Nordiq Club, for example, complements its racing program with the Adventure Rabbits “A non-competitive program focusing on skill improvement for skiers 9 - 13” and the Junior Adventurers for “Skiers 14+ who want to develop their skiing skills and fitness levels without focusing on competitive racing”. Last year, Chelsea Nordiq had many groups of young skiers: Jackrabbits, Racing Rabbits, together with their Adventure friends, participate in the CSM. Francois Leclerc, the Chelsea Racing Rabbits program coordinator, says that “We have kids from our Racing Rabbits program participate to give them another type of experience and to also emphasize the opportunity for them to socialize while skiing. Having a friend doing a sport with you is really important to ensure the kids are adopting the sport. Kids have a lot more time to socialize during the CSM while skiing for 4-5 hours as opposed to a 1 km race that lasts 5 minutes! ”

The Viking Cross Country Ski Club has the Challenge Program for their youth that includes back country skiing and winter camping. The Viking’s program is “aimed at youth who have completed the Jackrabbit levels and are ready to challenge themselves over longer distances and varied terrain. The program aims at 12-17 year olds, runs for ten weeks on Saturdays from 10:00 to 3:00 pm, and caps off its season with a weekend of winter camping. The program is led by Rick Nesbitt, who has been involved in the sport for over 40 years, and who is also the supervisor for the cross country trail network of Morin Heights in Québec, as well as a ski patroller.” Carol Fiedler, the coordinator of the Challenge Program, says they are looking forward to their participation in the CSM this year!

There are many more ski clubs in Canada, USA, and overseas that may have similar programs. If you don’t have a youth adventure program, now may be a good time to start one!

The CSM is a great opportunity for family and friends of whatever competitive inclination, to participate in one event. As well as all the fun and challenges of skiing, you can choose how much to ski together and there’s lots of opportunities to socialise at the checkpoints, the buses, at the dorms and hotels, the Chateau, and the banquet. And, don’t forget to take advantage of CSM’s November Youth Club month with much reduced group entries.

Herman Smith-Johannsen, the legendary and original Jackrabbit, our inspirational Patron, with permanent CSM bib number 111 (his age on passing away— to ski the trails up above), envisioned the CSM as a grand ski jamboree of young, and young at heart, adventurers.

How wonderful it is, then, to see that in 2011 Jackrabbit Johannsen’s daughter, Peggy Austen, the oldest CSM participant, wearing her father’s number 111 and enjoying the company of fellow CSM adventurers!

Parham Momtahan (CSM #166) November 5, 2011
Interesting Reading. . .
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