Kickin’ Kids Gets More Kids Cross-Country Skiing the Valley
ski club for kids sees record involvement
When Kickin’ Kids started in 1994, there were only five coaches and seven kids involved. Now, about 150 kids and 25 coaches are ready to tackle another season of skiing the trails of the Chippewa Valley. “Probably about 85% of the kids come back year to year,” said Chris Gorzek, a longtime coach of Kickin’ Kids. “And so we’re kind of at our limit.”
This ski program – which is aimed at children aged 4 to 17 – teaches cross country skiing skills as well as winter safety, group participation, and other skills (which can be applied to downhill skiing and ski jumping, too). Lessons are aimed at kiddos of all abilities, from beginner through skater.
It's Really about having fun and teaching the kids the ski skills through games and activities.
kickin' kids coach
“Even on some of the coldest nights, we’ll be out there,” Gorzek said, “and we’ll cut things short and stuff, but you’ll see 4- or 5-year-old, 6-year-old kids with rosy cheeks and a big smile on their faces. A lot of parents wouldn’t even think of taking their kids outside.”
This year, the program runs from Jan. 18 through March 8, with all registration online. The program breaks down all kiddos into smaller groups based on age and ability (“You’re not going to be the only one to fall down,” Gorzek assures). Considering that skis encourage physical distancing already, group leaders are confident they can continue safely and in accordance with health guidelines.
Many of the kids end up moving on to the Chippewa Valley Nordic Ski Team, which is for middle- and high-school students, and some go on to join the Eau Claire Ski Striders – many of whom coach the younger teams.
“We’re pretty low key,” Gorzek said. “We don’t push the kids really hard. It’s really about having fun and teaching the kids the ski skills through games and activities.”
Check out more about Kickin’ Kids at sites.google.com/site/eauclaireskistriders/home/kickin-kids.