On Sunday, Jan. 26, the Golden Kicking Horse Alpine Team (GKHAT) will be hosting their annual Cookie Cup.
The Cup, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 12, is an in-house race that includes multiple events, with the purpose of introducing GKHAT skiers to the joys of racing.
“It’s just a lot of fun, the whole club comes out that day, and it’s to teach kids that racing events are fun,” said Ryan Ford, head coach of the GKHAT. “Later when they go to racing events when they’re a little older, they’ll know it’s a super fun time. Martin Pattinson who is with the RCMP will come up with his speed gun and write speeding tickets for the kids; it’s super hilarious.”
Ford anticipates that they will host an inter-club race later in February, where GKHAT racers will have the opportunity to face off against racers from other clubs across the region and the province.
GKHAT has been in full swing since Kicking Horse Mountain Resort opened for the season in December, with athletes practicing anywhere from one to three times a week, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
A typical day of practise for a GKHAT athlete has them practising their skills in the morning, and moving on into group skiing in the afternoon, where athletes will take on new terrains such as chutes, bumps, glades and more.
Ford says that one of the benefits of GKHAT is that it forces young racers out of their comfort zones and pushes them to tackle new runs that they otherwise wouldn’t have.
“With GKHAT we’ll tend to have kids at the end of the day tell their parents what runs they skied, and it’ll be a run that the parents have been trying to get the kid to go on for at least a year,” said Ford. “They would never go with a parent, but with GKHAT it’s no big deal.”
That’s what GKHAT is all about – creating better skiers for life. According to Ford, it’s a huge advantage to learn to ski in a professional setting, rather than learning from a family member, as the technical skills and confidence gained can translate into better skiing for a longer period of time.
It’s not just about racing and success as a kid, it’s about creating passionate skiers for life.
“Racing is one of the best ways to build skill from a young age,” said Ford. “It sets skiers up to be good skiers for life.”
It also helps that it gets kids up and active, which has its own long term benefits as well.
“Being active is good, and the more active kids are, the better off they are in the long term,” said Ford. “This is just one more way to keep them active, and to keep them active for a long time.”
GKHAT offers programs for skiers of all ages, and are always looking for help with volunteers. The program will continue to run through March.