Young skiers took to the slopes for the 2019 U.S. Ski & Snowboard Far West Central Series Shredfast Giant Slalom Races last weekend at Bear Valley Ski Resort.
Nearly 70 racers from Under-10 to Under-16 categories from Bear Valley, China Peak, the Yosemite Winter Club and the Dodge Ridge Racing Team competed under partly cloudy skies.
“The team did fantastic,” said Jim Phillips, the new program director and coach for the Dodge Ridge Racing Team. “I’m very happy with how prepared the athletes were, how loose and relaxed they remained through the race day. They showed up for the race mentally and physically, (and many) performed to peak ability. That’s always the goal we’re shooting for.”
Phillips was particularly impressed with 6-year-old Owen Seymour, who took second place in the U10 men’s race.
“(Owen’s) amazing,” Phillips said. “With the years I’ve been involved in coaching and working with athletes, he immediately struck me with special talent. He’s someone we’ve got our eye on and (are) making sure he gets proper coaching.”
Phillips grew up skiing, and competed professionally in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) promobile tour.
Phillips said the coaching strategy at Dodge is based off of the U.S. ski team code of conduct.
“Right from the very beginning we treat them and teach them as if they were members already,” Phillips said. For the kids that don’t go on to compete professionally, “We hope to help them be better citizens (and) carry these skills through life.”
“Imagine you’re at Bear Valley’s race, and you’re looking down the course,” Phillips says as an example of the motivational talks coaches give kids before race days.
“We’re very proud of our athletes and the program we have here and Dodge Ridge Ski Area,” Phillips said.
Phillips said some racers on the team come to compete from as far as the Bay Area.
“People from different backgrounds all get along (at Dodge),” Phillips said. “Once up here, everybody’s on an equal playing field. There’s a lot of camaraderie built into the program.”
While competitive on the slopes, the ski teams in the Central Series are working toward common goals, according to Phillips.
“The athletes compete with each other, but the four ski areas work together,” Phillips said, adding that the event at Bear Valley was one of the nicest he’s been to in his time coaching. “The coaches all work together to make sure the children have the best opportunities they can on race days.”
The team has been hitting the slopes for free skiing, practice drills and gate training since December. Next season, training will start before snowfall with dryland training, including building quick twitch muscle fiber, plyometrics, cardio and other ski-specific exercises, Phillips said.
The next leg of the series, the Van Neely Memorial Speed Classic at China Peak, was scheduled for this past weekend, but was postponed due to poor weather conditions.
Teams will move on to the Silver Ski Cup Slalom races hosted by the Yosemite Winter Club at the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area over the weekend of March 16 and 17, for the final races of the 2019 Far West Central Series.