Beginner programs hone skills on the slopes

By: Kristine Guerra Journal Correspondent
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This winter season, beginning skiers and snowboarders can advance their skills at a reasonable price. Auburn Ski Club’s Gift of Skiing and Gift of Snowboarding are entry-level programs for children ages 6 through 12 who want to advance their skills in the sports. Gift of Snowboarding is a new, eight-day, weekly program that will start on Dec. 19 and costs $255, said Bev Mann, head coach for Gift of Skiing. “We just keep getting questions and interest from people wanting a beginner snowboarding program,” said Dylan Omlin, who runs the club’s snowboarding programs. “We got something that coincides with the ski program for snowboarders.” Gift of Snowboarding participants should know basic techniques. Those who haven’t snowboarded before but want to join the program can attend a basic training session at any resort, Mann said. “We wanted to give an opportunity for kids to advance their snowboarding skills and try something else other than skiing,” Mann said. Auburn Ski Club Alpine Director Eric Garayoa said the program is “extremely reasonable.” “It includes professional coaching and a full season pass to Boreal (Mountain Resort),” Garayoa said. Aside from professional instruction, participants also experience a controlled learning environment, Garayoa said. Mann said that after participating in the program, snowboarders can move on to a more advanced level like the Riders program. “Down the road, depending on the ability, it (Gift of Snowboarding) opens up the door for more advanced things like introduction to the Boreal Park and big mountain riding,” Garayoa said. Placer High student athlete Caty O’Connor, who’s currently part of the Riders program and the school’s snowboarding team, has won snowboarding contests in and out of California. She has also competed through the United States Ski and Snowboard Association. Amid her achievements, snowboarding for the 17-year-old athlete means just one thing. “It’s for a good time,” O’Connor said. “I like skiing and boarding with friends and being able to board out in the mountains.” Gift of Skiing, which started about 10 years ago, not only gives kids the opportunity to advance their skiing skills, but also enables them to ski with their families. The program has been “extremely wonderful,” for the kids involved, said Auburn resident Terry Flint, whose grandson was a long-time Gift of Skiing participant. Eleven-year-old Gavin Flint started in the program in 2004. Now, he has moved on to Development Freestyle, a more advanced skiing program. “It was really fun and I learned a lot,” Gavin said. “They start with the little, easy details and then it just gets bigger and bigger. They go by what they think the kids can do.” Terry said Gift of Skiing is a well-organized program that develops a person’s self-esteem. “The Gift of Snowboarding and Skiing programs would give opportunities for kids to enjoy the beautiful winter snow we have in the Sierra,” Mann said. Meanwhile, seniors can also improve their skiing or snowboarding skills for a reasonable price. Sugar Bowl Ski Resort’s Senior’s All Mountain Adventure Camp is intended for seniors age 55 and older and costs $225. To register and for more information, contact the resort at (530) 426-6700. ---------- Auburn Ski Club Soda Springs (530) 426-3313 To join the Gift of Skiing and Snowboarding programs, call Bev Mann at (530) 878-2888 or go to www.auburn to download the program form. Sugar Bowl Ski Resort 629 Sugar Bowl Road, Norden, (530) 426-6700