AUBURN — Sunny skies and 50-degree weather graced the final session of youth ski lessons on Perkins Ridge Road on Sunday. 

Sixty-one children trekked on their cross-country skis across the trails groomed by Bruce Condit, who runs the program with his wife, Whitney Condit.

“I love organizing and doing stuff with the kids and the community organizing, but my husband is the passionate skier,” Whitney Condit said. “He does the technical stuff.” 

The LA Bill Koch League, a chapter of the national program, is run through the YMCA, where parents can register their children and rent skis for the season.

The seven-week program runs in the model of Olympic medalist Bill Koch “to foster a lifelong love of skiing and the outdoors.”

Volunteer Holly Gurney said children are taught to ski through games and activities, rather than drills and lectures.

“They learn balance and skills, and they’re less worried about performance,” Gurney said. “And the better they get, they can go without their poles and you get better control over your skis.”  

The ski program was started by Edward Little High School ski coach Dan Campbell and was handed over to the Condits after a few years of their involvement. 

Whitney Condit said that because they live across the street from the trails, which run adjacent to the Lost Valley mountain, it worked well. 

The program teaches skate and classic styles of cross-country skiing to children ages 4 to 13 who are placed in one of three groups: Rivers, Lakes or Mountains. 

“It’s based on age and ability and we try to keep them with their peers,” Whitney Condit said. 

She said they have about 15 volunteer coaches from the community whom “I could not do this without. I do the fun, falling-down stuff with the kids; they do the finesse.”

“Whitney, she’s the heart of it all,” Gurney said.

Gurney said the program involves different activities and games each week. For this last lesson of the season, they played sharks and minnows, soccer with skis and a variety of games involving fake fruit and rubber chickens.

Linda and Dean Rolfe of Lewiston said they are very glad to have the ski program for their grandchildren. Linda Rolfe said they have three grandchildren in the program and this is their second year in it. 

“Whitney, she has so much energy with the kids,” Linda Rolfe said. “The kids love it. I’m just amazed at her personal attention to each child.” 

Rolfe’s grandson, Asher, was in the 6-year-old group. “He’ll do anything. He’s small for his age, but he’s a scrapper,” Dean Rolfe said. 

“These people are amazing for what they do, and the volunteers, they’re amazing,” Linda Rolfe said. “It’s worth more than money could buy.”

Gabrielle Williamson, 7, receives a rubber chicken from Asher MacKenzie, 6, on the last day of lessons for the Auburn Nordic Ski Association classes Sunday afternoon. The program features agility games that put the focus on fun and gaining comfort and skill on skis.

Whitney Condit goes through an obstacle course on cross-country skis at the end of the last day of weekly ski lessons hosted by the Auburn Nordic Ski Association on Perkins Ridge Road in Auburn on Sunday afternoon.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: