Early Season Race Training for Far West Young Skiers

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Mammoth Mountain, California Every season, before the Tahoe Resorts open for business, the local Far West Skiing coaches start planning how to help give our young skiers a head start. One way to get a head start is to get on the snow before anyone else. So, for two weekends in a row, November 16th & 17th & November 23rd & 24th, our kids in the U-16 group and the U-14 group were invited down to Mammoth Mountain for some early season practice. For both of these weekends, about 10 Tahoe families in these age groups descended on Mammoth. We were on our own for food and lodging, so economy is the name of the game. On the first weekend, my wife and I took our 14 year old son and 12 year old daughter plus our son’s good friend and life-long ski buddy, Brett. We had 2 adjoining hotel rooms at Shilo Inn, with a fabulous view overlooking McDonald’s. Ok, so the view wasn’t great, but the Shilo does have an indoor pool. The pool of course proved a magnet for other friends of our kids to come over from the Econolodge and Travelodge and Motel 6. For our second weekend, we took our daughter and her good friend Jillian. Mammoth is a gigantic mountain (well named!) and very exposed to wind. Our first day was insanely windy, but does that prevent our kids from skiing? Nooooo indeed! No amount of adversity seems to stand in the way of their training. They spent the first half of the day freeskiing with their coaches. At this early part of the season, they’re not yet “bashing gates”. In the afternoon, they performed drills. At the end of the day, when I asked if the wind bothered them, they hardly knew what I was talking about. We parents have the day to ourselves, which this parent uses to walk from the main drag of Mammoth Lakes up to the base area of the resort. It is an uphill slog of 4 miles, and I really feel accomplished when I arrive at the base lodge. After skiing, I have time to take their skis for an overnight tune at Kittredge’s Sports, who have an amazing promise of being able to have skis ready by 7AM the next morning as long as you bring them in before closing the night before. The Saturday evening routine is that a big group of parents & kids go to an early meal at John’s Pizza, followed by a viewing of, in this case, the new movie, Catching Fire, the second installment of the Hunger Games series. This makes for a nice long day, when as soon as the lights go out, everyone is asleep immediately, even in our crowded Shilo Inn room. The drive to Mammoth is about 3 hours, but is quite beautiful and peaceful. We start at 5AM, so early that the girls never actually wake up – they just move with their pillows from their bed to the car and sleep until we arrive at 8:00AM. On the drive down, as the sun comes up, you descend to the stunning sunrise over Topaz Lake. Later on you pass Mono Lake and a number of really small towns with names like Coleville and Bridgeport and Lee Vining (pop. 389). I am always amazed how quickly my kids can transition from stillness to motion. They get their equipment on with blinding speed and before I know it, they are on the lift and out of site for the rest of the day. Lather, rinse, repeat. A good wholesome weekend for all of us, and now the that Tahoe resorts of Squaw & Northstar have opened, the kids are primed for gate bashing!! Mammoth Photo Gallery

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