What does it take to put on a youth ski race? Probably a lot more than you are imagining. The day starts early and requires many volunteers to run smoothly. All for those big happy grins when you hear the famous words, "smile you're on the podium!"
Race day starts early. Like really early, but how fun is it to ride the lift while the groomers are headed back down? Watching the sunrise from the top of chair 4 while hauling gates and timing equipment over to Skookum while hopefully enjoying those last few drinks of coffee out of your overly insulated mug.
Course setting is an art in itself. Each coach as their own tried and true tricks for setting the perfect course and it's up to them to make it a safe. Once the course is ready to go a couple of forerunners will test it out making sure it's ready for the little racers to let loose. The timing systems are complex and without them we would be left to handtiming and many delays. Race day is all about the help that volunteers to get everything up and running smoothly.
Depending on the age of the racers and the event that's taking place the race will last a few hours. Sometimes it looks a bit like organized chaos between the racers, the volunteers, coaches, and the enthusiastic cow-bell ringing parents. The great part about the Apple Cup is that this is a first race for many U6 & U8 kids. This is their first time on the big hill and it's a long ways from top to bottom. Just crossing the finish line is an accomplishment.
There are many ways to help out on race day. We look for volunteers to work registration, gate judge, help maintain the course, make and deliver lunches, timing, and end of day help. Race Day would not happen without help.
Ski Racing is a sport that builds independence, confidence, friendships, and so so much more. These kids have put in countless hours on the hill training. Some with short term goals such as finishing the Apple Cup on top of the podium. Others have long, BIG, goals such as one day making the US Olympic team. Whatever their goal, the kids are putting so much heart into their training. Race Day is their chance to showcase their efforts.
This is what it's all about. All the coaching hours, volunteer time, handling whatever Mother Nature throws at us. THE SMILES. The excitement to be part of a group that supports these kids and their dreams. To catch candy during the famous candy toss, or have the winning raffle ticket and take home some Mission Ridge swag. It doesn't matter where these kiddos finish at the end of the day but the fact that they showed up in the first place and we were there to support them.