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Junior Alpine Racing [considering Mohawk, Butternet, Jiminy Peak, Catamount]

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

So my son is into skiing and has done race team development team but now I'm thinking about switching to another mountain as the one they are at has gotten a bit too "cliquey." Do any of you know differences between Mohawk, Butternut, Jimmy Peak, Catamount. I know these are not the big ones but those are the options in the area...

post #2 of 13
Whatis your current mountain? Are you at Sundown?

I instruct at butternut, just started last season but have been going there for years. Mohawk has more trails but is quite expensive and is considered a ski hill whereas butternut while smaller in trail numbers at 22 trails but makes it onto the mid sized mountain list. Catamount is a little bigger mid mountain and Jiminy has some good pitched runs with vermont style steeperish blacks. One benefit to butternut is it's family friendly and season passes are only $325 for adults, cheaper for kids. There are comprehensive lesson programs, racing and other programs for all ages. 4 magic carpets, a triple chair and 3 quads.
post #3 of 13

I'm assuming that you're vacation home location is limiting your mountain selection. I can speak to Mohawk as my daughters (now age 9) have been part of the development team for 2 years. One made the ski team this year and one did not. It's extremely competitive and, yes, it's expensive relative to some of the other options. We chose Mohawk for a few reasons ... proximity to our primary home (we're in Fairfield County and can drive there in 1:15) and quality of terrain/snowmaking within a reasonable drive for us. I've skied Butternut but it's just too far for a regular day trip.

 

All the senior Mohawk snowsports and race staff are out of country right now, either in New Zealand or Switzerland, but I would suggest a call over to Trish if you are interested. Development team enrollment is a lottery system this year and runs through Aug 15. Last year it sold out in 40 minutes so they changed their approach.

 

Having said that, if I had the option of Western MA I would probably look there. Better terrain for training typically results in better skills. Plus it's more fun for you if you ski every weekend. Good luck with your selection.

post #4 of 13

We are in Fairfield County also, Butternut is doable for a day trip but not for skiing saturday and sunday, driving up and back each day is a bit much. We don't have kids so day trips and lodging, etc is perhaps easier for us.  Lodging is so cheap in the Berkshires (western Mass) that I typically drive up there friday night and stay for the weekend coming home on sunday.   

 

Mohawk has $30 day tickets during the week as part of our ski club discount but for the time it takes me to drive there for just a few minutes more I could be in Western Mass so I always wind up there.  

 

Butternut does have a very active race team.  One of my favorite trails is closed every saturday-sunday morning from 9-11 so the race team can practice.  All races are held on main street which is a ton of fun.  

 

I have heard good things about Catamount which is 15-20 minutes beyond butternut.  Jiminy is a bit farther north but still fun I hear.  

 

There is also Ski Sundown in Connecticut but it's pretty small and another 15 minutes of driving and you can be at Butternut.

 

Good luck!

post #5 of 13

When my kids were young, Bousquet was the real deal for junior racing.  

Windham has a good race program,  A lot of kids form Fairfield and Westchester train there. It's not much farther than the Berkshires.

post #6 of 13
Also check out Berkshire East. Great race program , great mountain, not crowded and great steep terrain.
post #7 of 13

I have coached in a few programs in the Western MA junior race circuit and can tell you that those “cliques” are part of the human condition and can spring up anywhere at any time. It can be seen as detrimental to a team spirit that must be continually fostered by the coaches. While ski racing is often seen as an individual sport, team building is a key factor in a youth athlete’s individual development and potential for success. A good youth race coach is going to realize that a healthy pace of skill development is going to far outweigh the value of a team win and/or having the first place racer. He also knows that it is a snowball’s chance in hell that one of his/her racers is headed to the world cup and that an evenly spread focus on each racer’s athletic development, confidence building and being a good team player will provide a coach’s greatest impact on a youth athlete’s potential of being successful in life. It is unfortunate that this type of coaching success is far more obscure to the other team’s coaches than a few first place ribbons and can result in a coach’s hubris taking over much of the decision making. If you wish to really evaluate a program, you will need to speak with some of the coaches to find out what their “mission” really is.

post #8 of 13

Re: "cliques". As one parent to a "back-of-the-pack" jr racer in our team put it: "My kid is as important as the podium kids, becuase without him there wouldn't be anyone for them to beat. So don't dare to neglect him."

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich666 View Post
 

I have coached in a few programs in the Western MA junior race circuit and can tell you that those “cliques” are part of the human condition and can spring up anywhere at any time. It can be seen as detrimental to a team spirit that must be continually fostered by the coaches. While ski racing is often seen as an individual sport, team building is a key factor in a youth athlete’s individual development and potential for success. A good youth race coach is going to realize that a healthy pace of skill development is going to far outweigh the value of a team win and/or having the first place racer. He also knows that it is a snowball’s chance in hell that one of his/her racers is headed to the world cup and that an evenly spread focus on each racer’s athletic development, confidence building and being a good team player will provide a coach’s greatest impact on a youth athlete’s potential of being successful in life. It is unfortunate that this type of coaching success is far more obscure to the other team’s coaches than a few first place ribbons and can result in a coach’s hubris taking over much of the decision making. If you wish to really evaluate a program, you will need to speak with some of the coaches to find out what their “mission” really is.

 

 

Sadly, that's all great in theory, but what is said and actions are two completely different things. As the parent of a middle tier kid who on any given day could shine or bomb (more bomb than shine however) ,  I had many discussions with coaches and program directors about getting kids to the next level. They all say the same great words about how they gauge their success on how the "bottom" kids develop, not the top and inevitably they still  focus most of their  energy on the kids who are producing results because it strokes their egos. I've seen this backfire many times as well though. Kids having early success get smothered by coaches and either quit after U16 because they are burned out or when they hit FIS and can't handle being in 50 or 60th place all season and they implode because they are "nobodies" not getting all the attention any more. A lot of the whiz-kids at U12-16 completely drop the sport before they are 18.

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeroGravity View Post
 

 

 

Sadly, that's all great in theory, but what is said and actions are two completely different things. As the parent of a middle tier kid who on any given day could shine or bomb (more bomb than shine however) ,  I had many discussions with coaches and program directors about getting kids to the next level. They all say the same great words about how they gauge their success on how the "bottom" kids develop, not the top and inevitably they still  focus most of their  energy on the kids who are producing results because it strokes their egos. I've seen this backfire many times as well though. Kids having early success get smothered by coaches and either quit after U16 because they are burned out or when they hit FIS and can't handle being in 50 or 60th place all season and they implode because they are "nobodies" not getting all the attention any more. A lot of the whiz-kids at U12-16 completely drop the sport before they are 18.

 

I agree that there is also that tendency to over train and over coach a winning prospect instead of allowing for a more natural acquisition of skill development in a lighter and more fun atmosphere. An over encouraged and over informed youth racer can develop a competitive ego prematurely while not having the emotional maturity to understand and curb certain typical extenuating behaviors. I have seen some fathers and even a few mothers over work their kids heads with the idea that ski racing is about winning more than anything else. That may be OK if you are Ligety or Hirscher but not for youth stages where, like skiing itself, certain emotional skill fundamentals must be learned before tackling the next stage up the pyramid of emotional skills refinement. Youth athletes need to learn how to make friends, share, compromise and understand the basics of right and wrong before taking on higher level experiences like winning, losing, advantages, disadvantages, setbacks, making others happy, etc. Train a kid's mind like an upside down pyramid and it will eventually teeter, tip, fall and crash hard in one way or another. It is a shame when that happens because skiing is a sport that is abundant with life skills training opportunities for youth when facilitated by the parent and coaches for that reason.

post #11 of 13

How much further is Stratton?  Legit race program and pretty cool (but $$) mountain.   Lots of New Yorkers. 

 

+1 for Berkshire East.  Not a lot of flash but STEEP, ICY, FAST.  Want your kid to be good?  Put him/her on steep, icy, and fast terrain.

 

As for cliques...

 

At Wachusett Mt we have a strong program (location, location, location).  I feel like we emphasize TEAM to a fault.  We are ALL one turn away from a career ending injury.  To a less dramatic degree we are all one turn from DSQ on any given day.  At Wach we stress mutual support, friendly team mate competition, good fellowship, and good fun.  Personally I spend a lot of time making sure my 12 and 13 yos are being safe, mutually supportive, kind, and "nice."  I keep a sharp eye out for "cliques" and I recruit team leaders to take rookies and stragglers under their wing.  Our parents could not be any more supportive, generous, and kind.    These kids are building life long skiing pals and gals who can all RIP anywhere.  Many of the vibrant adult league racers here (over 600 Racers) are ski team alums who are still good pals, and who now are attending each others' weddings and showers never mind ski trips and league racing!

 

As a coach, I love to see my stars have success.  But I also love to see a novice racer's geometric improvement over the course of a season.  It is important for youth coaches to remember it is about the "life" not the result.  

 

In any case:  Look for:  #1 TEAM development.  Skills and love of the sport.  U14 medals are nice, but ultimately not a great indicator.  Drive and love ARE.  Comradeship   2. RACE not DEV.  Not the same.  3.  TERRAIN.  STEEP, ICE.  4.  Mileage.  How many reps (not gates - reps)?  How many days/nights per week?  5.  Coaches.  Tough one. IMO old is better than young for U12 up.  Yes, a 25 yo "retired" FIS, NORAM, NCAA stud looks good on paper.  Can they coach?  Why are they coaching 12 year olds?  Can/will they hug your kid like their own kids?  Will your kids hug them back?  Old vet with a young stud assitant is a common combo.  Just make sure they are on the same page. 6.  VIDEO.  How much?  How often?  7.  Parents and parent support:  Tigers or Team players?  Two of my fav moms whose daughters compete fiercely cheer as hard for the other kids as they do their own.  Additionally they work tirelessly for the TEAM!  Timers?  Volunteers?  Gatekeepers? Fence Rollers?  Course maint? Cooks?  Electricians?  Wifi experts?  Photographers.   Or are they afraid to chip a nail or stain their mink?

 

 

Good luck with your choice.  Berkshire and Bosquet are my two favs on your list.   

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

AWESOME POSTS! ALL OF YOU!

post #13 of 13

A little late, and perhaps not super helpful, but try to understand whether cliquey is something that happens or if it is something that is encouraged by the program. As a coach, cliques are something that I try to prevent but they do happen. A natural group isn't the same thing as a clique. However, some kids just are that way, and it can easily turn into bullying other kids outside of the clique. However, and this may be what @NYCOrthoDoc is experiencing, some clubs encourage it among their athletes and it permeates the club culture. You can usually spot these clubs at races because those athletes act like entitled little brats. Are they the kids who are on the snow first and are first in line and first to inspect, or are they the ones who cut in line and whose parents and coaches condone it?

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