The local cross-country ski program for youth is alive and kicking. In 2017, the ski group (part of the Tetrahedron Outdoor Club) renamed itself the Dakota Ridge Nordics and has never looked back. Attendance records are expected to be smashed again this coming winter season. Word of mouth and a variety of programming continues to attract new families up to beautiful, snowy Dakota Ridge to take in the fun.
It wasn’t always this way. The small ski club almost collapsed during the 2015 season with no snow, and in 2016, the club barely limped along with only 34 skiers. In 2017, the club dropped registration fees and purchased strap-on skis for the three and four year olds to borrow. This made the sport very affordable for young families and it fueled the club to last year’s peak attendance of 85 kids registered with 10 on the wait list.
The Dakota Ridge Nordics programs are a fun way for kids aged three to 16 to learn basic cross-country ski skills while providing an opportunity to ski and socialize with their parents and friends. It helps children to develop confidence, learn outdoor winter safety skills, and build overall motor skills. The program’s long-term goal is to foster an appreciation of physical exercise and nature in children by exposing them to a fun outdoor family activity.
Kids aged three to five start at BunnyRabbits, which is highly geared to snowy fun and games with lots of time sliding around on skis and bottoms. JackRabbits (six to 12) is the next level up and offers four levels of skill development in a fun and active atmosphere. Level 4 culminates with the introduction of the skate skiing technique.
In 2018, a brand new program called Adventurers was offered to 12 to 16 year old skiers. Here the focus is on wilderness skills, physical fitness, endurance, and teamwork. Youth continue to develop their ski technique at the start of each session before skiing out to adventures that may include building snow caves, skiing under the stars, orienteering, learning avalanche and first aid basics, attending community races, and ski touring.
Skiers, families, and volunteer coaches eagerly await the return of the 2019 ski season with dreams of huge dumps of snow at beautiful Dakota Ridge.