Club makes big investment in littlest skiers
VAIL — Kids 7 and older who are curious about competitive skiing are encouraged to check out the no-pressure program called Youth Ski League with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
Starting this year, they’ll be working with a coach who — in addition to loving kids — has decades of experience, a U.S. Ski Team background and understands what it’s like to be a parent in a ski program.
Anje Worrell said of all her resume items, the hardest to come by in her line of work is that last one. Her son Zane Worrell, 17, is a senior at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
“It’s helped me a lot,” Worrell said Monday. “When I was a young coach, I didn’t understand what the parents were thinking.”
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In selecting Worrell to head the Youth Ski League, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail COO John Hale said kids will benefit from having a role model as well as a coach.
“The hiring of Anje Worrell represents yet another step in SSCV’s commitment to high-quality coaching at the youth level,” Hale said. “Anje’s depth of experience will bring a wealth of knowledge to the YSL team, a critical entry point for SSCV Alpine.”
But more than a role model and a coach, Worrell said she hopes to be a ski buddy to kids, teaching them to love the sport.
“It’s a big freeskiing program too, it’s not just gates,” Worrell said. “It’s creating a well-rounded skier. Some will stay involved, and some will quit … the most important thing for me is that every kid walks away with a life skill.” YOUNG SHIFFRIN
If a kid joins Worrell’s program at 7 or 8 years old, they may soon find themselves thirsty for age-class competition, where they’ll be directed to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Under-10 program, which also boasts a strong coaching staff.
Alissa Consenstein, a former youth development coach at Stratton Mountain School and U16 coach for Green Mountain Valley School, helps with U10 programs — as does Simon Marsh, who Mikaela Shiffrin credits with some of her early enthusiasm for the sport as a young skier in Vail.
Earlier this year, Marsh said seeing young kids discover the joy of arcing a perfect turn has been a constantly rewarding experience, from the Shiffrin days to the present.
“The biggest focus that we’re really trying to bring is solid skiing skills that aren’t just geared toward the race season but more toward longevity in the sport,” Marsh said.
TRAINING AND TERRAIN
Marsh said the club’s youngest program started with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail introducing grade-school kids to the club by working on fundamentals, race skills and on-mountain skills.
“The only races we’d have were the local Vail Cups,” he said. “Now that things have branched out in the club, the U10 program is more toward the Alpine side, and we work toward races that we go to.”
Those races also focus on the fun factor of the sport and allow the kids to get to know other ski areas in the region.
“We go to a really fun event in Steamboat, where the kids get to explore the mountain and try different things — a dual race and a skills contest,” Marsh said. “It’s a low-key atmosphere where they’re getting to enjoy the mountain.”
Worrell said skills camps will also be incorporated into the Youth Ski League program for those who want additional training and terrain.
“Variability is where they advance the most, so we’ll hope to expose kids to a lot of that, as well,” she said.
Translation: Youth Ski League can help your kids learn to love the powder days as much as you do.
Visit skiclubvail.org to sign up for Youth Ski League or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.