Whitewater Ski Team 16 coach Al Bull (left) with Paisley Randell

Whitewater Ski Team 16 coach Al Bull (left) with Paisley Randell

Whitewater Ski Team in midst of great season

The Whitewater Ski Team’s Nancy Greene crew is ready to race on home turf this Sunday.

Fresh off a strong finish at Summit Lake in Nakusp, the Whitewater Ski Team’s Nancy Greene crew is ready to race on home turf this Sunday.

With some fresh snow this week and the entire team knee deep in their season, it’s hard to imagine that the ski team starts practicing before most of us are even considering winter.

“We do our best to ski without snow through the fall,” says coach Dylan Henderson.

Sessions geared toward leg strength, running, balance with core strength start in October and Henderson has even set up courses in the sand at Lakeside Park.

“That’s as close to ski racing as we get,” he says.

All that practice is paying off for the team, consisting of members ages 5 to 75.

The bulk of the Whitewater Ski Team members are in the Nancy Greene Ski League, their entry-level program that goes up to age 12. About 50 kids participate.

“That’s where kids come and they learn how to ski in a team environment. It’s a non-competitive ski racing program,” says Henderson.

Next comes the Teck Provincial Race series for skiers 12-year-old and up followed by the adult Masters program. Henderson is pleased to have a few racers around 70-years-old amid that group including Bobby Swan who was on the national team during the 60s and 70s when the Notre Dame University existed in Nelson.

“He stayed on and continued to race,” he says. “I just throw those guys in with the kids and they train with the teenagers … I don’t really treat them any differently. I think they really appreciate that. They fit together right away. They learn a lot from each other … in a playful environment where they’re seen as equals working toward similar goals.”

The Whitewater Ski Team is the only team in the Kootenays with a masters program and Henderson would like to see this contingent grow.

“Whether they’re 70-years old or whether they’re 5, ski racing definitely sells itself,” he says. “It’s fun and a fantastic sport for any age; as this demonstrates, if it’s good for a 5-year old and it’s good for a 70-year old…”

While Nancy Greene racers participate as part of a team with training the primary goal, individual results come into play as racers get older. Still, competition is a matter of achieving personal excellence over winning, says Henderson.

“With ski racing, it’s an individual sport where you’re setting your own goals,” he says.

“You might be on your own program where that season you’re aiming for a top ten finish. If you get ninth, you’ve achieved a complete victory and that’s celebrated just as much as that athlete that’s going for gold and achieving gold.”

Training at Whitewater ski hill gives racers great opportunities in Slalom and GS events but really, it’s the free skiing abilities that flourish.

“The kids learn to be really great all around skiers,” says Henderson. “This is essentially why any parent would want their kid to join the Whitewater ski team. It’s not because they want them to be an international level racer. It’s to build great all around skills.”

For more information on the Whitewater Ski Team go to whitewaterskiteam.ca.