Young skiers mark end of season with pointers from Olympic gold medalist
SOLITUDE — About 50 children got some skiing tips from Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety at Solitude Mountain Resort Sunday.
The children are part of a program that helps families get involved with an expensive sport like skiing.
The event was the big finish to a six-week program called “Y I Ski”. The program is a partnership between the YMCA of Northern Utah, the National Winter Sports Education Foundation, and Solitude.
The program allows families to get lessons, gear rentals, and lift tickets at affordable prices for children from ages seven to 17.
Children gathered at Solitude to wrap up the season Sunday morning, skiing down a race course. Parents said their children had come a long way through the program.
“I think it’s wonderful because it helps the inspiration and helps guide them and shows them what the love of the sport can definitely do for the future,” Brandy Bushnell said.
Bushnell’s 10-year-old daughter, Braylin, was participating in the program for the first time this year.
While the young skiers enjoyed the slopes, they also met with Ted Ligety, an Olympic gold-medal and world-champion skier.
“It’s so cool to be able to watch these kids evolve on the slopes. It’s awesome to see them from the first year,” Ligety said. “A lot of these kids, it’s their second year and to see how much better they’ve gotten over the year and how much fun they’re having. It’s so awesome. I grew up skiing my whole life and it’s so cool to be able to share that experience with these young kids.”
Ligety said he was also excited for the children to learn skills that apply off the slopes.
“It’s such a fun sport. It gives you so much, not only from the fun aspect, but learning about yourself, getting confidence, pushing your limits, scaring yourself sometimes, challenging yourself,” he said.
As Braylin finishes up her ski season, her mother says she is glad she learned some lessons to last a lifetime.
“She was so afraid to go down the higher hill and was really terrified and with the support of her friends and everybody, she finally went down it last week and now you can’t keep her off of it,” Bushnell said. “I think it’s really building that strength and courage of knowing you can overcome your challenges.”
Elissa Kobrin, the YMCA of Northern Utah’s director of camping, said the organization is always happy to accept used ski gear that can help children in their programs hit the slopes.