Over the past week we hosted five up and coming athletes from the Valley for a Flex Term week.  It was really fun to work with this group who are bridging the gap from BKL to Junior Ski Racing.  We did technique work, did two adventure skis, cheered at a College Carnival, and had a lot of fun on skis!
This is the first crew of athletes that I have worked with from the earliest stages of Bill Koch so it is especially rewarding to see them have interest in taking the next step forward.  They are all literally getting better with each session and getting in some racing experience.  I can’t wait to see where this desire takes them!
One of my favorite parts of Flex Term weeks is exposing the kids to real adventure and using skis to travel through beautiful terrain on skis.  I don’t have to say that this has been a trying winter — but we are really lucky to have the Greens out our door — allowing us to ski when a lot of New England is forced to do dryland training.
Our lower elevation snowpack is nothing special — well actually as BKL coach Reid Greenberg coined it — SNICE (snow-ice).  On Thursday we left the Battleground with klister and climbed up the Catamount Trail towards Huntington Gap on some of the firmest skiable terrain I can remember.  After an hour we got up to the VAST Snowmobile trail and then continued on into the beautiful hollow that leads to the Gap proper.  A pretty arduous ski and everyone put in a solid effort getting up to the higher elevations where we were greeted by real winter conditions and some awesome scenery.
I love checking out the ice formations up here and the forrest opens up with mature stands of mixed trees.  Near our turn around point I hugged a huge, straight white birch which took my whole wingspan to get around.  The woods are quiet up here and we snuck in some view of Burnt Rock and the ridge, which the gave the kids a sense of place as many of them had hiked in those areas in previous summer camps and on outings with their families.
Rafter came along for the tour and had relatively easy travel on a thick crust that lay beneath a nice fluff of aged powder.  Even though he ate two of my muffins I still love the guy.
Devlin and Kaitlin came along and were a great mentors and offered encouragement during the long climb.  It was neat to see Kaitlin enjoying the ski and even finding joy in the descent — which is another sense of accomplishment for me as a coach.  Kaitlin came to our program a relatively new skier and it has been fun to watch her develop into a racer, a technically sound skier, and an all around great person.  We’ll miss her next year when skis skiing for Colby College.  Dev is an all-arounder, a super skier on nordic and alpine gear and his smile never seems to fade.  Here I snuck a shot as we came out of the hollow in some really enjoyable conditions — making turns and catching air off a virgin snowpack on racing skis is a skill that many skiers don’t get too often.  It helps with balance, awareness and feeds a passion for snow that lasts a lifetime.
We searched for the perfect log for lunch and found it right where the Catamount leaves the VAST.  All smiles and good energy as we refueled for the ski out.  A moment to remember.
On the way out we spotted a few bear markings on a beech tree.  The woods right above campus are full of wonder, during the ski we spotted tracks of turkey, coyote, bobcat, squirrel, rabbit.
Keep dreaming of snow.
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