PARK CITY, Utah — During the recent holiday break, the Park City Ski and Snowboard (PCSS) nordic team stayed busy with the more experienced teenage athletes volunteering to mentor their younger counterparts who are newer to the sport. For some teenagers, mornings included training for tomorrow’s cross country U.S. Nationals competition in Soldier Hollow, while afternoons were dedicated to mentoring.
The PCSS Kickers and Gliders program is one of Park City’s largest youth sport programs. Most of the athletes come to the program via Youth Sports Alliance’s (YSA) Get Out and Play after-school activities. Kickers and Gliders are seven and eight-year-olds. Their mentors are from the Devo age group (U12/U14) and from the Comp age group (U16-U20).
“We want athletes to give back to the community and the sport. It’s important for the athletes, particularly as they get older, to be leaders and role models. The younger kids really look up to them, and they’re good skiers, so it’s also great for the younger skiers to emulate and know the progression of the club and what they can look forward to.” Emma Garrard, Park City Ski and Snowboard Cross Country Director told me. “It can also help the older athletes’ awareness of technique and confidence and perhaps remember that skiing is fun. They even can gain some agility and balance, jumping in on games and drills with younger kids. It’s another time they are putting skis on without it being too stressful on their bodies as they do a lot of long and intense training.”
Another way the Devo athletes had fun over the holiday break was their annual cross-country ski from Park City’s Old Town area’s White Pine Nordic Center, the seven-mile rural route to the Swaner Eco Center in Kimbal Jct.
This new mentorship program is having exactly the trickle-down effect that the nordic coaches could only hope for as they’ve started to see some Kickers and Gliders now volunteering to mentor the Mini Gliders (4-6 yr olds.)