scholarship program strengthens the MWV ski team | Ski

The Mount Washington Valley Alpine Education Foundation wants to make ski racing affordable for local children from working class families.

The nonprofit organization ( oversees approximately 140 young skiers from across New England through the Mount Washington Valley Ski Team and the Cranmore Race Team, and has distributed nearly $ 30,000 through its scholarship program in 2021 to help offset race expenses like equipment, travel, camps and coaching.

“This sport is really affordable,” Foundation executive director Mike LeBlanc said in an interview Dec. 29 at the Cranmore Race Building. “It’s for the middle class. There are resources if you really want to do it.

Across the two teams, the foundation serves local and regional student runners with the CRT focusing on athletes ages 8 to 13 and the MWV ski team with teenage U16 and U18 skiers.

The MWV Ski Team competes in the Eastern Region, trains in Cranmore, Attitash and Wildcat and is served by program options ranging from full time to weekends and holidays only. CRT races at Cranmore.

The valley’s ski culture starts early for kids thanks to the Eastern Slope Ski Club’s low-cost school program. Another advantage is the proximity to many ski areas offering a variety of terrain, conditions and weather conditions. Locals can grow up here, train, and maybe run on the world’s biggest stages without costing a fortune.

“We’re excited now,” said Leanne Smith. “We have the opportunity to tick all the boxes with the local kids, the kids who want to ski more often because it takes a lot of repetition in this sport to be able to take it to the next level,” she said.

Smith knows it. The programs have helped her reach the Olympics on two occasions. Originally from North Conway, she began skiing in Cranmore and was part of both the Cranmore race team and the MWV ski team before joining the US ski team for 10 years. She competed in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics before returning to the MWV ski team as a coach and program director.

In recent years, the MWV ski team has seen the number of full-time riders drop from three to around 16 this season. In addition to seeing students from Kennett High School, skiers now come from Fryeburg Academy. Being introduced to distance learning due to the pandemic led many of these students to the MWV ski team.

In addition, CRT has partnered with the Northeast Woodland Charter School of Conway with its nature-based learning modeled after the Waldorf School.

Getting a child into a ski racing program can get expensive, with costs rising at the high school level, but the Mount Washington Valley Ski Team has a variety of options, ranging from a cost-only Friday program $ 1,200 to a full-time teen program running $ 7,000. Advance payment can help offset costs in addition to requesting financial assistance.

“It’s pretty affordable and it’s working really well for us right now,” said LeBlanc.

LeBlanc emphasizes that having community members on the field is essential to the development and culture of young skiers, and thanks Board Chairman Noah Coleman for developing the scholarship program with Karen Dolan of the Cranmore Racing Team and Craig Niller of ESSC also encouraging the efforts.

“It’s one of those things that has tremendous potential,” said LeBlanc, who has been with the foundation since 2017 and spent 12 years as the head coach of the Quebec ski team. Brown University.

Yet the foundation must break a state of mind that ski racing is expensive.

LeBlanc says no, and points to the local scholars who have had their full tuition. Additionally, parents can look for other scholarship programs.

“The crucial thing for the future is that we continue to grow the scholarship fund and our outreach within the community,” said Smith. “I want to continue to send the message to people that it is possible and we are working tirelessly to make it a reality for the people of the valley.”

Smith thanks the locals for remaining loyal to the club and keeping it together, noting that the current coaches are former riders of the MWV ski team.

“They’re the ones who push the boundaries and create a great culture,” she said. “We need to make it known that this is a viable option for anyone interested in the sport.”

LeBlanc added, “If you grow up in the White Mountains, you should have the opportunity to be a competitive ski racer if that’s what you want to do, no matter what your financial situation.

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