Kids ski in Western Slope cross-country class |

Kids ski in Western Slope cross-country class

Mike McCollumSteamboat Springs Pilot & TodayVail, CO Colorado
Matt Stensland/Steamboat Pilot & TodayHayden Valley Elementary School kindergarten student Brock Hunter practices cross-country skiing. The kindergartners have been skiing once a week in physical education class.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado As Matalinn Haptonstall skied down a gentle slope Tuesday afternoon next to Hayden Valley Elementary School, her kindergarten classmates fell one by one. At the bottom of the hill, Matalinn was the only student left standing.Its kind of slippery today, and I dont know what Im doing, said Matalinn, 5, who wasnt concerned about falling. I learned how to get up when I skied the other day.Matalinn is one of about 25 kindergarten students strapping on skis once a week this winter as part of the elementary schools cross-country ski program. Older students, in grades one through five, ski twice a week.The kids love it, and I love to teach it, said physical education teacher Ginny Glenn. A lot of them seem to catch on right away, and some of the kids take a little bit longer to learn, but that is how muscle memory is.My favorite part of teaching it is getting outside with kids, she continued. Getting outside in the winter is exciting, and its a nice chance to learn a life sport. Once they catch on, they remember it for life.The only thing on 6-year-old Brock Hunters mind was getting down the hill.Ive sledded this hill before, but skiing is harder, but more fun, he said. Im glad we are outside and not inside all day.Riley Owens, 5, raced down the hill in a pink ski outfit with a fluffy feather boa around her neck. She said skiing came easy to her, and her favorite part of the sport is going fast.Skylar Martinez, 6, yelled Yeah baby, every time he skied down the hill.Joyce Baker has assisted with the ski program for more than 20 years, since her son was a 4-year-old kindergarten student gliding down the slope.Skiing is in their blood around here, she said. And by the time they go back in to school, they are so tired they are ready to sit down and listen.

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