Jackrabbits learn the Fun-dementals of skiing
Okotoks: First-year program popular with children
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 01:03 pm
Those long skinny trails at Crystal Ridge Golf Course aren’t from creatures running amuck in Okotoks. They are caused by a group of giggling jackrabbits learning an activity they can do for the rest of their lives.
The inaugural Crystal Ridge Nordic Centre Jackrabbit program had 40 youths register, which introduces children to the lifelong sport of cross-country skiing.
Program coordinator Richard Vervoort was anticipating between 20 to 24 skiers, but that number doubled quicker than a family of rabbits.
“We have four instructors and we usually like to have a ratio of six students per instructor,” Vervoort said. “We got much more than we expected. We would like to get more instructors certified, but it’s been manageable.”
An area of Crystal Ridge Golf Course has been designated for the program. Vervoort admitted cross-country skiing may not have the pizzazz of snowboarding or alpine skiing for youngsters, so the Jackrabbit program jazzes things up a bit.
“The program is based on what they call Fun-damentals,” Vervoort said. “We have the skiers in different groups playing games. If we just had them doing drills they would tire of it really quickly.”
The games on Jan. 5 at Crystal Ridge involved going down a slalom course, a relay race in which the skier used just one ski to teach gliding on a ski properly and, of course, the thrill of throwing caution to the wind and schussing down a small hill.
The drill helps teach students an important part about cross-country skiing — there are no chairlifts, you’ve got to climb up to go down.
Seven-year-old Caden Kotowich has had some experience with cross-country skiing in the past. He said he is glad to get the refresher on skills from the Jackrabbit program.
“I like to ski and I like to play outside,” Caden said. “I also want to know how to do it right when I get bigger.”
Caden’s answer was music to his dad Steven’s ears.
“I love it that we have 40 kids out because it is a lifetime sport,” said Steven, one of the Jackrabbit instructors. “What I am excited about is that in a few years from now, when my kids are a little bigger, we will be able ski into huts up in the mountains.”
He’s also glad he doesn’t have to drive to the mountains for a quick ski.
“I love the fact I can just drive five minutes and go for a ski with my family,” he said.
Vervoort said they won’t be taking any more students for this year, however, they are looking forward to expanding the Jackrabbit program in future years.
The Crystal Ridge Nordic Centre has approximately eight kilometres of trails. It is located on 32 St. N, just south of Holy Trinity Academy in Okotoks.
The cost is $5 per ski. As well skiers are encouraged to join the club for $50 a year in order to help pay for the cost of grooming. Members can participate in the club’s ongoing programs. For more information go to the Crystal Ridge Nordic Centre web site at www.okotoks xc.wordpress.com