Snowshoe Ski and Snowboard team members are carving their names into the snow and winning awards for their efforts.
The team – consisting of approximately 50 kids, who range in age from six to 18 – belongs to the Southern Alpine Race Association and competes at resorts in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
President of the Snowshoe Ski Team Parent Association Juli Schatz said the team does very well considering it only practices on weekends.
“We have kids that are taking spots on the podium in almost every competition,” Schatz said. “We definitely have kids that are doing really well.”
While the team practices together, the competitions are by individual and not all of the members race.
“The skiers are racers and our snowboarders participate in different events – slope style and boardercross. They are kind of spread out a little bit in what they do,” Schatz said. “Some of the skiers don’t race at all. They like being on the team but they like what they’re doing, and the learning and advancement of their skills. Then, we have other kids that are exceptionally competitive and they might be in eight races in a season.”
Skiing and snowboarding do not split the teams into age groups. Schatz said she enjoys seeing the younger and older kids working together.
“It really is an added bonus for the kids to have those relationships and that kind of mentoring and leadership type of role,” she said. “It’s a really neat thing to be around to see the teenagers hanging out with the seven and eight year olds. Even outside of practice, they ski and ride together.”
With such a large group of students, the parent association hired 11 coaches, including Hillsboro resident Andy Rice.
Rice was a competitive skier when he was younger and was excited to join the team as a coach.
“We have a fairly large coaching staff because it allows us a good bit of flexibility in who can be there at a given time,” Rice said. “Snowshoe gives us a trail to set a course on in the mornings and then we work on fundamental skiing skills in the afternoons. All in all, it’s an astonishing amount of instruction in the sport from some very talented and experienced coaches. Kids who get started and stick with it set themselves up for lifelong enjoyment in an incredibly fun sport.”
Other coaches include Dale Ramsey, Jan Ramsey, Kevin Schatz, Rob Jones, Jay Crawford, Drew Miller, Larissa Fowler, Keith Poore, Bob Terpening and Mathew Bragg.
Membership in the team is not limited to kids who live in Pocahontas County, in fact, it’s not limited to kids in the state of West Virginia.
“My family lives outside of Richmond, Virginia,” Schatz said. “We have families that live in northern Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio and Kentucky. They’re really spread out. We have some kids that are local kids that live in Pocahontas County. We have kids that live in the Elkins area and Charleston.
“We have a few families that are able to spend the majority of the winter on the mountain,” she continued. “Most people are really driving in on the weekends and some come almost every weekend.”
Membership in the team includes dues and comfort on the slopes.
“They’ve got to be able to be comfortable to ski anything on the mountain is really kind of the criteria,” Schatz said. “They don’t have to be a racer, but they have to be comfortable and confident to do that. For the snowboards, really being able to comfortably ride black diamond slopes is kind of the criteria.”
Members must also supply their own equipment and join the United States Ski Association [USSA]. Racers that compete also have registration fees and lift ticket fees.
The parent association has a scholarship available for kids in Pocahontas County and surrounding areas.
“There is a scholarship available to offset some of the expenses for some of the local kids,” Schatz said. “We do have some of the local students put in applications for the scholarship and that will cover their membership fees. It will help offset some competition costs, as well.”
For more information on the Ski and Snowboard Team and membership, visit www.snowshoemtn.com/plan-your-trip/ski-and-snow board-school/ski-and-snow board-team.aspx
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org