Yesterday Erik and I hosted the first Cascade Challenge Camp in the Methow for all the young kids of the valley. For a while Erik and I have been talking about how many talented young kids come from this valley, so we were wanted to fuel that fire a little bit by giving back some inspiration and direction to these young children. At that age, I can remember how much it meant to me to ski just five minutes with some of the older successful members of the team; so we were hoping to give a little bit of this "fire" to the younger generation.
the younger girls teaching me a thing or two :)
It was incredible, there was nearly 50 kids that showed up for a our camp, ranging from Canada to the US. Thanks to some to the older elite athletes of the valley, Brian Gregg, Kelsey Dickinson, Casey Kutz, Casey Smith, Erik and I were able to lead such a large group.

The camp included kids ages 7-13, so we had quite the range in ability level, interest, and knowledge. Luckily every kid that showed up yesterday was fired up to ski and have fun, so we had no problem keeping the energy rolling. We started the day out talking about US skiing, and some of the best athletes that are competing for our country. We then moved on to teaching them the different levels of racing, and what each level means. With so many different races, and different types of races, we educated the kids on the various disciplines that all of us older athletes are participating in. I was surprised to learn that many of these children following ski racing, whether it be through the Olympics, through their parents, or even sometimes on TV.

The older athletes giving a talk at the beginning
The goal of the day was to teach these kids some of the necessary skills to become a good ski racer; but to also teach them that it was an enjoyable process. With a range of skiers from Canada and all the way in between, it was fun to see that all the kids were also making new friends and getting to know some of the skiers they would maybe race against some day. The ski began with a warm-up, then three stations. Biathlon station, drills and technique station, and then a start/finish station. I think the big hit seemed to be the start finish station, where Erik and I set up lanes, finish lines, and start lines similar to that you would see on the racing circuit. As we taught the kids that lunging is extremely important in racing; many times it can even win you a race, the kids were instantly entertained. Once they learned to start on command and race to the finish, they all had no hesitation as they put in a massive lunge/fall to the finish.

Me demonstrating to the kids what a lunge looks like
Following the ski we headed in for a few more lessons on taking care of your body and you skis- the two most important parts of skiing success. Brian gave a basic talk about the functions of basic food, and good recovery tools. With a young crew, we didn't want to go into too much detail, other than to teach them "there are good sugars vs. bad sugars", and "what does your body need immediately before and after workout". Following our nutrition talk, Erik went on to give a wax clinic where he allowed some of the kids to even try out the different steps. Hopefully they will start taking extra good care of their skis throughout the winter, waxing them more than once or twice in a year.

leading a group of younglins
The final part of our camp was giving out posters and signing autographs. In all honestly, I think this may have been many kids favorite part. There is something about a posters and autographs that have "greatness" written all over them for a kid!
mesmerized by the posters!!

It was a great day, and hopefully we were able to inspire these kids to follow in the same direction that some of the elite athletes of the Methow have achieved. They all seemed to have a great time, so hopefully they will continue to follow racing, keep developing in their training, and one day be teaching their "younger generation" to love the process.
skiing with Cooper Klein

Erik and I were hoping to make this an annual thing, so look for it to be coming again next year!

Thanks to Mazama Community Center for letting us host, and Methow Nordic Team for helping us organize!
Casey and I demonstrating sprinting.

Thanks to Pat Leigh for all the great photos from the day!!!