Skiing community fosters family values, life skills

John McCarthy, February 2010


I love skiing on Mt. Spokane and I love having my kids out there with me. When we first came here from Tonasket, Nordic Kids was a good way for my sons Colin and Ian to integrate into the community. They were able to be mentored by some really wonderful people.

     I remember Michael Townsend and Jeannie Nelson taking my boys on the Nordic Kids Olympics three years ago and the excitement inherent in the 1-meter jump. Getting an inch of air was a tremendous feat. I recall clearly the positive influence that exuded from these unassuming teenagers as they encouraged my kids to “get some air” and work hard as a team to do well in the team relay.

     It was something they needed and benefited from as they were finding their way in a new elementary school. I imagine Michael and Jeannie have little recall of this but their impact was profound.

     Colin and Ian have continued to ski since ages 9 and 11 and the bad news for me is that at 12 and 14, I have now lost to them thrice at the annual Langlauf race at Mt. Spokane. They have learned too much and are impressively competent. It was only 5 years ago that I was pulling them along with my ski pole to keep them going.

     Times change rapidly and the skills that they now take for granted were developed out of Nordic Kids and the Ski Team. John Wurst helped coach them to proficiency their first year as true skate-skiers in Nordic Kids. I blame Matt Halloran and George Bryant for continuing to hone their skills and creating the “muscle memory” that will prevent me from ever besting them at Langlauf.

     At the same time, the value of Nordic Kids, the Ski Team, and the Mt. Spokane skiing community for my kids far exceeds their ability to ski. They have had exposure to some wonderful role models who are helping them to develop the right life skills and attitudes. Their personal development is what is most important for me and them.

     This Langlauf, I asked my kids what they enjoyed about the race. They commented that it was good to see Michael Townsend back in town and how in the middle of the race, he as well as Eric Ginn (previously anonymous to Ian), were encouraging them along and how this helped center them. This relationship with Michael, started in Nordic kids, really had come full circle. It is incredibly valuable for my 12- and 14-year-olds to be able to talk to teammates who are now in college, having successfully navigated adolescence, and who continue to act as a team and model the camaraderie inherent in this sport. It is valuable for my kids to be coached by an anonymous co-skier as happened this Langlauf and 3 years ago by Bill Bender.

     I talk with my kids about life sports, things they can do when they are my age. Skiing is one of these sports. Being a part of the team has helped imbue them with attributes far more important than being proficient skiers. It has helped them realize what being on a team entails, what positive role models for middle school, high school, college, and beyond look like.

     Skiing on Mt. Spokane is a great place to interact with really wonderful people. It is a welcoming venue, where there are friendly people plod-ding and zipping along the trails, get-ting outside, staying healthy, enjoying the beauty of our region. It is a great community, it is sponsored by SNSEF and I encourage you to maintain your membership in order foster opportunities for others within our community.

Spokane Nordic is committed to creating, developing and delivering programs to foster Nordic skiing
within the greater Spokane Community through efforts of organization, advocacy, and communication.

Spokane Nordic Ski Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

P.O. Box 501, Spokane, WA, 99210

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