Dan Blackwelder spoke to Hickory Rotary about the High Country Junior Race Series, a ski racing program for kids ages four to eighteen. The program’s mission is to provide support and training to kids who aspire to sharpen their ski racing skills and perhaps compete on levels from Junior Olympics all the way to the World Cup. Several Hickory-area youth have participated, or are currently participating, in the program. HCJRS has been in existence for 30 years but is becoming more visible through volunteer efforts and modern media technologies.
Alpine ski racing, for obvious geographical and logistical reasons, is not a sport that most children in America would immediately think of if asked what sports they might like to try. But, in the High Country of North Carolina, we have thriving ski racing programs for kids, thanks to ski resorts like Appalachian Ski Mountain, Ski Beech, and Sugar Mountain. With a little help from plate tectonics (uplifting the Appalachian Mountains) and from mother nature for cooperating with winter temperatures conducive to snow making, ski racing programs are alive and well here.
The High Country Junior Race Series, started in 1984 as a friendly competition between junior skiers from the then four area ski resorts mentioned earlier, brings together junior athletes, ages 4 to 18, to participate in a series of races held at each ski area, culminating in a rotating Championship race. At each race, medals are awarded to the top three finishers among the boys and girls in each age group. Cumulative points are awarded to each racer and carry over from each race to the Championships, where trophies are also awarded to racers with the most points for the season. There is also a team trophy awarded to the team from the ski area with the most points for the season.
For more information visit www.hcjrs.com
-Dan Blackwelder, Appalachian Ski Mountain Team Coach