GET IN THE GAME - Skiing
By GERRY STEELE
Baker City Herald
The first good snowfall on the local mountains each year gets young and old alike thinking about hitting the slopes for the new ski season.
That's no different for three young Baker City skiers who are members of the Anthony Lakes Ski Racing Association youth ski teams.
For Selia Davis, Tanya O'Neal and Danny O'Neal this time of year is a time to ski for fun as well as competitively.
Davis started skiing cross country when she was 5, and a few years later added downhill to her repertoire.
"My dad asked us if we wanted to start skiing and my brother and I agreed. We thought it would be fun," Davis says.
Davis says she enjoys competing in the races throughout the season.
"You get to really go fast, and then see what time you have," she says.
Like Davis, Danny O'Neal got started skiing when he was 5.
"A friend of mine suggested that this program was a good way to get good skiing instruction," O'Neal says.
"I like it because of the different things you can do. It's not just one thing.
"If you want to race you can race. But if you want to free ski you can do that. It's challenging and you can set goals for yourself."
Tanya O'Neal says she started skiing because of her brother.
"My mom and my brother were skiing and I didn't like basketball, so I just started out skiing too," she says.
Preparing for the season
The three youngsters agreed that to ski you don't just strap on the skis and hit the slopes.
"I run and ride by bicycle in the summer to get my legs in shape," Davis says.
"I'm playing basketball right now to get in shape," Danny O'Neal says. "I I lift weights."
Obviously, having fun is at the top of the list when it comes to skiing. But, safety also is near the top.
"It gets cold up there so we have to wear tight racing suits. And, the younger kids usually have bibs and team jackets," Davis says.
She added that the skiers when racing wear shin guards and elbow guards. Some have hand guards attached to their poles. Helmets and goggles are a must.
"You have to have a helmet and something to protect your eyes or you can't race," Davis says.
Other aspects of ski dates
Skiing isn't the only activity available on the mountain during a weekend.
"It's a chance to be with your friends," Tanya O'Neal says.
"I like the hiking out to other places on the mountain," Danny O'Neal says.
"I like to go and ski the trees, and make new pathways," Davis says.
What is the ALSRA?
The Anthony Lakes Ski Racing Association-governed youth ski teams opened their 2007-08 season Dec. 1 at Ski Anthony Lakes.
The ALSRA, an independent non-profit organization, consists of the parents on the ski teams. This year's team includes young skiers from Baker City and Union County, according to secretary Gundula O'Neal, Tanya and Danny's mom.
O'Neal said the program is for youngsters age 5 and older who want to improve their skiing skills with having fun.
The teams are divided into three divisions interscholastic, mitey mite and mini mites.
- Interscholastic This program is for any student in high school, junior high or middle school. The program consists of four hours of coaching each Saturday from Dec. 1 through Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Membership cost is $150, plus the cost of membership in the Oregon Interscholastic Ski Racing Association.
- Mitey Mites This program is for beginning or returning racers age 12 and younger. The program's priorities are safety, fun and learning.
The child's skiing ability should include a strong wedge turn and the ability to ski with a group.
The program includes four hours of coaching and training each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. between Dec. 2 and March 11.
Races are scheduled at Anthony Lakes, Bluewood, and McCall. For those unable to travel to races in other areas, coaching will be provided on those Saturdays at Anthony.
Mitey Mite team tuition is $225 per person, and $175 for additional children.
- Mini Mites This program consists of two hours of ski lessons and snow play for novice skiers ages 5 to 7, on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon between Dec. 2 and Feb. 24.
At least one parent from each family will be needed to help ride the chair lift and to follow the group during lessons.
To participate in the program the child must be able to ski Broadway with a wedge turn.
Tuition is $90 per child.
Don't want to race? No problem
For those youngsters not interested in racing, the slopes still can be fun for a modest cost.
Nordic skiing is available on the mountain for $25 which includes skis, boots and poles.
Alpine skiing can be fun for as little as $250. Or skiers can lease the equipment they need from Blue Mountain Sports in La Grande for as little as $187.
Another good place to pick up gear at a lower price is a ski swap.
"Ski swaps are fun," Davis says. "We go to them and camp there and haul up things we've grown out of.
"Sometimes we just pass the things along rather than sell them," says Karri Davis, Selia's mom. "In those cases we usually don't have any more use for those things anyway."
Most ski helmets run between $90 and $100, but the Davises said you can find them in the $40 to $80 price range at some retail outlets.
And, they said, the annual Boise Ski Swap is a good place to find good used and new equipment.
"The best thing if you've never skied before is to go to Anthony Lakes and try it. The lessons are free. If you think you'll like it, keep doing it," Gundula O'Neal says.
She says skiing can be done for as little as $200 to $250 to outfit a young skier.
"The ski area gives the kids who join the ski team a discount too," she says.