Healthy learning at Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway

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NORWAY – The sounds Sunday were all too familiar: Skis scraping against icy trails while some skiers uttered “oof” as they fell to the snow.

And it all was accompanied by laughter and words of encouragement at Robert’s Farm Preserve in Norway, where young skiers were honing their skills during the Bill Koch League event, organized by the Western Foothills Land Trust.

“Bill Koch was the most iconic male Nordic skier in American history,” said Courtney Marchetti of Hebron. “The BKL events are really family oriented to get kids on skis.”

Marchetti, who attended the event with her husband and children Oliver, 4, and Lila, 7, said her family attended BKL events when they lived in Vermont, before moving to Maine.

Lee Dassler, executive director of WFLT, said the events are part of an effort “for a healthier Oxford County.”

The event consisted of ski clinics in the morning, where about 15 children broke into groups to learn how to get up when they fall, go up and down hills and more.

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The instructors were Wade Kavanaugh of the Bethel Outing Club; Sarah Carter of Norway, whose family owns Carter’s Cross Country Ski Center; Paula Easton, the Oxford Hills Middle School Nordic ski team coach; and Sarah Keener, who Dassler called a “local enthusiast.”

Elja Partridge, 8, of Norway said she felt she was a better skier after working with the instructors.

“I learned when you’re going downhill, you use your hands to steer, not your feet,” Partridge said. “And I learned that you step-turn for mild turns, and how to ‘double-pole.'”

The groups played “sharks and minnows,” during which Lila Marchetti was deemed “impossible to catch” by her fellow skiers as she zoomed across the crusty snow.

The young outdoor enthusiasts also pretended plastic cones were dinosaurs and volcanoes, laughing and dodging them, with their adult instructors enjoying the activity.

Many of their parents went with Chris Easton, coach of the Oxford Hills High School Nordic ski team for 30 years. Easton was helping the adults learn instructional techniques so they could give their children ski lessons at home.

After the lessons, they raced.

The first was the “Lollipop Race” on Acres Field, a BKL classic aimed at skiers in kindergarten or younger.

Oliver Marchetti, who was at first doubtful about competing, gained steam on his final approach and pulled off the win, frantically skiing toward the lollipops stuck in the snow that symbolized the finish line.

“That’s my brother and he won,” Lila Marchetti announced proudly.

The second race, for the older children, was a 1K loop on Stephen’s Trail, named after C.A> Stephens, a writer from Norway. Katie Hodgkins, 10, of Greenwood flew across the finish line, perhaps not upright on her skis, but certainly on top of the world. She earned a first place for her effort.

According to Dassler, Roberts Farm Preserve sports 16 kiliometers of trails, good for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, and running and walking in the summer. Dassler said there is also a 1-kilometer trail for those with disabilities. It is flat for wheelchair access.

Inside the warming hut, equipment can be borrowed at no cost.

emarquis@sunmediagroup.net

Sarah Carter leads the way up the hill Sunday on her cross-country skis at Roberts Farm Preserve.

Sarah Carter, center, lays out out the rules of the game to her young students at the Roberts Farm Preserve on Sunday.

Sarah Carter, looks back at Elise Knapp at the Bill Koch League event at the Roberts Farm Preserve on Sunday. On the right are Isabel Shiers and Seth Hodgkins.

Elise Knapp, right, regains her balance in a ski clinic at the roberts Farm Preserve in Norway on Sunday, led by Sarah Carter. Fellow student, Seth Hodgkins, is in the center.

Oliver Marchetti, 4 years old, looks up at his mother as he gets comfortable on his cross country skis on Sunday at The Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway.

Oliver Marchetti, 4 years old, looks up at his mother as he gets comfortable on his cross country skis on Sunday at The Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway.

Sarah Carter, looks back at her young X-C skiers at the Bill Koch League event at the Roberts Farm Preserve on Sunday.

The start of the cross country ski race on Sunday gets off to a good start at the Bill Koch League event at the Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway on Sunday, organized by the Western Foothills Land Trust.

The start of the Lollipop race on Sunday gets off to a good start at the Bill Koch League event at the Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway on Sunday, organized by the Western Foothills Land Trust.

Wade Kavanaugh polls the young ski racers at the Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway on Sunday.

The young skiers head into the woods at the the Bill Koch League event at the Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway on Sunday, organized by the Western Foothills Land Trust.

Oliver Marchetti, 4 years old, takes a break from skiing on Sunday at The Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway.

Sarah Carter, right, addresses her young students at the start of the Bill Koch League event at the Roberts Farm Preserve on Sunday, organized by the Western Foothills Land Trust.

Sarah Carter chats with skiing students Riley Woodworth and Elja Partridge, who is shown balancing on one ski.

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