Photo by Kim McKenna
During a weekly physical education class held at Gore Mountain, Johnsburg Central School second graders listen to downhill skiing tips from a Gore ski instructor. The six-week program included not only lessons, but professional preparation of skis and outfitting of all the children with ski clothing and equipment.
NORTH CREEK | Youngsters at Johnsburg Elementary School have learned the basics of skiing, skills that are likely to bring them enjoyment for a lifetime, according to people familiar with a new ski instruction program at Gore Mountain for local children.
This winter, 20 Johnsburg second graders took skiing lessons at Gore Mountain on Thursdays for six weeks. The program ended for this school-year in mid-March.
Only five of the students had skied before the program began, but within a month, all 20 had learned how to ski, according to Trena Riedinger, who along with her husband Rob Riedinger and Anna Bowers introduced the idea of primary-grade skiing to the school.
“After only three weeks, there are 15, excited happy new converts” to the sport of skiing, Trena Riedinger said, noting that school superintendent Mike Marwica and principal Heather Flanagan and the local school board deserved credit for making the program a reality.
“I’ve heard from parents that the children loved the experience,” Trena said.
Support for this program came from two popular fundraisers at Bar Vino, parents who donated clothing and equipment, the New York State Educational Foundation and the Cloudsplitter Foundation. Also contributing support were such businesses as Beaverbrook Outfitters and TC Murphy Lumber Co. of Wevertown, Gore Mountain Ski Center, and The Sports Page of Glens Falls.
The program is an outgrowth of a ski swap program for youth conducted annually for more than a dozen years at Johnsburg Central, in which many local citizens donate their ski clothing and equipment or exchange it, while others obtain what they need for several seasons. The proceeds from donations at the event go towards outfitting children for the sport.
Trena and Rob Riedinger, and their son Patrick have for years been running the ski swap, along with Kelly and Bob Nessle. Kelly and Trena both serve on the Johnsburg Youth Committee, a sponsor of the swap.; Kelly wrote a grant to obtain funding.
Rob Riedinger noted that as ski clothing and equipment can be costly, the popular ski swap has outfitted 25 to 30 children per year at the cost of only $1 to their families.
He also noted that Gore Mountain donated the services of a skiing technician that got the second graders’ skis ready for the slopes. Gore also routinely provides season passes for all students enrolled in Johnsburg Central, he said.
Photo by Kim McKenna
Gathering for a group photo after an afternoon of skiing at Gore Mountain in a weekly program, Johnsburg Central School second graders exhibit their enthusiasm for the sport
Second-grade teachers Kim McKenna and Kristin Mosher accompanied the children to the skiing sessions this year. McKenna said the second graders learned skiing techniques early in life — skills that they would draw on over the decades ahead. She added that they also had a lot of fun.
“Many of the children had never been on skis before, and to watch them develop into skiers was really exciting,” she said, noting that many of them might not have otherwise taken up the sport if it weren’t incorporated into a gym class during school hours.
With this year’s successful initial program, Riedinger and Bowers and school officials are looking forward to a potential expansion of the program in the future — likely having Johnsburg students from two primary grades engaged in the program.
McKenna said her students were joyous about the skiing on Gore Mountain.
“Every kid absolutely loved it — they looked forward to it each week,” she said adding that the ski instructors at Gore were “excellent” with the children. “We all hope that it will continue next year. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful mountain in our backyard!”