Ski school: Thinking outside the classroom

Published on March 16, 2017

Leader and Coach Rhonda Lawrence takes participants through many of the exercises to help with technique at the Menihek Nordic ski clubs Ski School.

©Photo by Mike Power

While no one denies the fact that reading, writing and arithmetic are essential to everyone's education, there are times when getting outside the regular classroom is a good thing too.

For thirty years now, students from schools in Labrador West have been taking part in the Menihek Nordic ski clubs Ski School. 

"It's a chance for young people to get outside , get some fresh air, exercise and just enjoy themselves," Menihek ski coach and one of the schools leaders Rhonda Lawrence told TC.

During the month of March five grade five classes from JR Smallwood middle school will head to the trails on three occasions to participate in the sport of cross-country skiing.

"Some of the students have skied before, but for many it's their first time on skis, so we start them off with the very basics,” explained Lawrence.

On the day TC visited, JRS grade 5 class (3) (Miss Power and Miss Evans class) were there for their first session. With the assistance of five leaders, the 24 students were fitted with the proper size skis, boots and poles.

"That's essential to make the experience as good as possible," explained Lawrence, poor fitting gear can make the experience much more difficult.

On their first outing students learn the basics like how to shift weight for easy glide, how to fall, double polling, how to get up a hill and how to get down a hill safely. That's followed by a short ski.

On the second outing, they review the basics and then go for a little longer ski, and learn more about the art of downhill technique. 

On the third outing, the group takes part in a more traditional ski and have some fun and games. 
“It’s important to show the young people that you can have lots of fun while on skis," says Lawrence.

But what happens after the three sessions.

"Many do come back to ski from time to time, some Bring their families and make it a day of fun and fresh air, and some even return to Enroll in one of the many programs that Menihek offers to all levels of skiers. 

Two of the students taking part in the school, Jaiden Lush and Ethan Fudge, told TC that they would be back for sure. The smiles on their faces, and the healthy glow they exuded was proof positive that it was a great day for the two. 

Lawrence said for herself and the other leaders hearing a young skier say "This is fun, I didn't think I could do this, I'll be back”, makes it all worthwhile. For many it's the beginning of a sport that not only will keep them happy and healthy, bit one that is still enjoyed by people in their eighties and nineties.