Youth Program FAQs
1. Can you explain all these acronyms?
- BKL - Bill Koch League: In the early 1980's this program was formed to encourage youth cross country skiing throughout New England. The program was named the 'Bill Koch League' to honor the accomplishments of legendary Vermont skier, Bill Koch. Each year dozens of clubs in northern New England organize BKL programs which introduce hundreds of youth to the sport.
- NENSA - New England Nordic Ski Association: The regional organization that promotes cross country skiing by organizing ski races, offering coaching clinics, and supporting BKL programs throughout the regions. NENSA provides the liability insurance to cover local BKL programs, and a portion of our BKL fees go to NENSA.
- ORN - Onion River Nordic Ski Club: Our local, central vermont club that was formed by cross country skiing enthusiasts to help promote skiing in our community. In addition to the BKL program, the club sponsors adult ski clinics and training groups. Explore the website for more details.
2. Volunteers. The success of the program relies on parent volunteers to help coach and supervise the kids. We need to have at least 2 adults for every group of 10 kids in order to keep the experience fun and safe for all the kids. No experience is necessary - we will provide instruction to new volunteer coaches as well as lesson plans.
3. Communications. Since skiing is so weather dependent, we often have last-minute changes which will be sent by email. So be sure you provide us with your best email address. We also try to keep the website up to date.
4. Locations. Depending on the snow conditions, the locations of our sessions may change. If there is no snow, we may meet at Hubbard Park or the Rec fields in Montpelier.
5. Starting time. As we all know, getting kids all geared up in the cold takes extra time. Try to arrive early so that you can have your kids ready to ski at the session start time so that everyone can get started together and no one gets left behind.
6. Clothing. Be sure your child has enough warm clothes, particularly when temps are in the teens or below. Something to cover the face (neckup/jacket with hood); jacket and snow pants; mittens/gloves. The younger kids generally aren’t moving as fast and will need standard snow pants and jackets. But as they get more proficient, lighter-weight ski pants and jackets are more appropriate so that they don’t get too warm.
7. Equipment. For those new to Nordic skiing, it is important to know there are two main techniques – classic (traditional) and skating (freestyle), each with different types of equipment. During our Sunday sessions we will always classic ski. Where to find:
- Ski swaps: Montpelier High School in late October and there are also swaps in Waitsfield, Richmond, Essex, South Burlington, and many more.
- Onion River Outdoors in Montpelier: They offer a lease program for youth skis; and of course they have a full line of new gear and a knowledgeable staff can help you.
- Our club maintains a limited amount of equipment which we lease for the season.
Boots (focus on warmth and comfort) – sizes are often in European sizes. Be sure the boots you purchase match the bindings on the skis. The most common bindings today are NNN or SNS – they look similar, but they are not compatible with each other.
Poles – check the chart here for recommended length. Generally about armpit height works for kids.
Skis – can be either no-wax or waxable. No-wax skis have ‘fish scales’ or other patterns in the bases under foot to provide grip on the snow. Waxable skis require the application of a ‘kick wax’ that is chosen to match the snow conditions/temperature. For beginners, we recommend no-wax skis for the simplicity. As skiers progress, they move to waxable skis which glide better in most conditions. Length – at least at tall as the child, up to as tall as his/her wrist when reaching straight overhead. Shorter is easier for the newest skiers to manage. Longer generally provides better glide.
Skate ski equipment:
Boots are usually taller and stiffer than classic boots. You can use the same pair of boots for both classic and skate – these combi boots combine some flex in the sole for classic and support in the angle for skating.
Poles - taller than classic poles. Check the chart here for recommended length. Generally around chin height works fine for kids.
Skis - No kick wax is used on skate skis. You’ll choose a skate ski based on the skier’s height and weight. Generally for kids, about 2 inches taller than the height of the child.