The sun was bright for the last day of Gunnison Elementary School’s Alpine Ski program at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) this past Tuesday – a welcome change after the previous few weeks’ lessons under cloudy skies.
A group of fifth graders, who named themselves “The Powshredders,” waited eagerly at the bottom of the ski trail. They each shouted the name of their favorite run – hoping it would be the group’s next destination.
The Alpine Ski program is offered by CBMR to fourth and fifth-grade kids from Gunnison. Over the course of four weeks, fifth graders travel to the resort on Tuesdays and fourth graders on Wednesdays for lessons and the opportunity ski. Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation has offered grants for this program – including funding of $3,500 this season. Crested Butte Community School has a similar program called Ski for P.E., which the foundation has helped to fund in the past as well. These programs give children of the Gunnison and Crested Butte communities the opportunity to experience snow sports the valley has to offer.
“My favorite part of the day is the views,” explained Kailyn Japuntich, as she pointed to the breathtaking mountaintops in full view from the top of the Silver Queen Lift. She has skied two years with the program. Her first time skiing was through last year’s program. But an observer would be hard pressed to tell that it was only Japuntich’s second year skiing – a pastime that she hopes to continue for a lifetime.
“My dad skis and I hope to go with soon,” said Japuntich, who is also involved in competitive volleyball, soccer and gymnastics. “I think gymnastics will help with my balance when I try snowboarding next year.”
Ryann Nordberg also is a second-year skier involved in the Alpine Ski program. “The hardest part was trying to get out of doing a pizza all the time and making my skies parallel,” explained Nordberg.
Now that she’s got that down, Nordberg enjoys the tree runs and is starting to enjoy skiing moguls. But what Nordberg enjoyed the most about the program is hanging out with other kids who weren’t in her class. “I got to meet new friends like Beyla (Jones),” Nordberg said.
Michelle Clark is the instructor for “The Powshredders” and is from Newport, Wash. This is her third year as an instructor at CBMR. She explained that the Alpine Ski program is helpful for kids to gain experience and gives them time to improve over the month-long program – rather than just a single-day lesson.
“I love to see them have fun, that’s the part I hope they remember,” said Clark, noting that the kids encourage each other as they overcome challenges. “The confidence they show is amazing. They are so proud of themselves.”
On the kids’ last day skiing as part of the program they practiced skiing backwards and worked on keeping their skis parallel. These programs help instill the passion of skiing in kids at a young age, and the Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation hopes to see the kids on the mountain in years to come.
Other members of the “The Powshredders” group included Beyla Jones, Bodin Bichon and Hayley Coffman.
“I really like to ski with new people,” Jones said.
Story and Photo Courtesy of Alex Cummings, CBSF Marketing & Events Intern