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Free trial day offered at Black Mountain
RUMFORD -- In an effort to promote the Chisholm Ski Club Alpine Race Program, a free trial day is being offered this Sunday. A full day of on-snow training will be free (with the purchase of a $15 lift ticket) for anyone ages 8-18 who is interested in the program but would like to see what it entails before joining.
The full coaching staff, including Program Director Mark Thibodeau, former U.S. National Coach Tim LaVallee, and three-time Olympian Julie Parisien, plus the junior coaches in the mentoring program will be ready to show the participants a true day of the Alpine Race Program.
All participants will need a liability form signed by a parent or guardian in order to participate. An early bird discount will be available for the 2013/2014 Chisholm Ski Club Alpine Race Program through April 1.
One year ago, Thibodeau, the 2002 Maine Coach of the Year, took over as race program director here. His aim was to assist Maine Winter Sports Center, Black Mountain, and the Libra Foundation in their efforts to reestablish skiing as the dominant winter lifestyle in Maine. To do this, they work towards creating healthier lifestyles for area youth and developing a foundation for a quality of life that will inspire people to build their futures in area communities.
With this in mind, he made the decision to create a mentoring program for young athletes and outstanding former athletes who were enthusiastic about remaining in the sport. This program would help them to learn the sport from a coaching perspective and provide them with coaching opportunities.
When Thibodeau came to Black Mountain, he established a series of races for high school ski racers. It has now become the Maine High School Super Series. Teams and individuals accumulate points throughout the season culminating with team and individual champions being crowned at the conclusion of the series. The races typically draw a field of up to 180 athletes.
It seemed natural to include a competition and events services mentorship as part of the mentor program.
With the idea for the mentoring program in place, all that remained was to identify and attract the perfect athletes for it.
The guidelines were simple: a love for the sport, intelligence, strong work ethic, eagerness to learn, and a great rapport with kids.
One year ago, Nate Nicols of Rumford was displaying his athletic prowess on the football field as the team captain and All Conference guard and linebacker for the Mountain Valley Falcons. On the slopes of Black Mountain Ski Resort, Nicols won state titles and the Mountain Valley Conference Ski Championships in both slalom and giant slalom. He is currently in his first year at Central Maine Community College in Auburn, studying precision machining technology.
In 2009, Lauren McHatten of Winthrop stood twice on the podium for the Ramblers at the State Ski Championships and was named to the first team all-star Team. That year, the Kennebec Journal named her their alpine skier of the year. As a junior in the psychology program at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, she will be studying abroad at the University of Salzburg in Austria for the spring semester.
Reilly Fitzgerald, a 2010 graduate from Winthrop High School, excelled as one of the school’s top skiers and soccor players. He is attending the University of Maine in Orono for international affairs.
Marisa Hanning graduated from Oxford Hill in 2011 where she was a three-sport standout athlete (skiing, field hockey, and lacrosse) for the Vikings. In her senior year, she finished fourth in slalom at the State Class A Ski Championships and
qualified for the Maine High School Shootout. She is attending the University of Maine at Farmington where she is majoring in outdoor recreation and business administration. She took this year off to work and coach at Black Mountain.
Allie Conant’s bright ski racing career can to an end three years ago following two serious ACL injuries that required major surgeries. The Winthrop High School junior is now back on skis, racing for her high school’s cross country ski team and
working with aspiring young alpine ski racers at Black Mountain.
Last winter, Nick Treadwell was completing his final year, racing for Leavitt Area High School’s alpine ski team. This winter, he is employed at Black Mountain and learning the ropes in the competition and event services program.
With assistant coach Tim LaVallee, formerly the U.S. Ski Team’s alpine technical director, whose responsibilities include the National Coaching Education Program, a small group was chosen to begin a hands-on coaching and educational opportunity at Black Mountain. McHatten and Fitzgerald began the process a year ago, while Nicols, Hanning, Conant, and Treadwell were selected to join the pair this winter. In addition to the hands-on experience of working with athletes, the young coaches are learning about safety in ski training and racing, how to develop good communication skills with athletes, the technical and tactical aspects of ski racing, drills and skills acquisition, planning and organization, athlete management, physical preparation, working with parents, yearly and long term periodization of a program, video breakdown and analysis, race day preparation, course setting, and the rules of ski racing.
According to LaVallee, “considering their age, these are some of the most enthusiastic young coaches I have ever worked with.”
According to Nicols, “Everything I own or won was earned by hard work, persistence, and determination. Nothing in my life has ever come easy. I was never a natural skier or football player. I worked my butt of to get where I'm at today. It's not how good you are, but how good you can be, bettering yourself to be the best you can possibly be is what really matters. You'll never be successful if you don’t risk failure. It’s this philosophy I want to try and instill in the athletes I work with.”
LaVallee adds, “While we are teaching the young coaches the nuance’s of ski racing and coaching they are teaching us more than they will ever realize.”
Program Director Mark Thibodeau said, "What a great opportunity for these young coaches, the athletes working with them and Black Mountain of Maine. Coach LaVallee is always a step ahead of the curve when it comes to alpine race coaching and education, he brings a level of expertise to Black Mountain that can only be found at the National level. The mentoring program that Coach LaVallee initiated last year is what the sport of ski racing needs, young coaches who are doing the job right. I say good for ski racing!
A world-class training facility and long history of alpine and cross country skiing excellence at Black Mountain has produced Olympians, National Champions and junior ski champions. With strong leadership the Black Mountain Race Program has experienced great success the past two years and is on track to continue its historic string of successes for the foreseeable future. The addition of the Mentoring Program may add a string of successful coaches to the list as well.