Terrain Based Learning For XC Skiing To Debut At Great Glen Trails

By Roger Lohr- Snocounry.com

Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center
in Gorham, N.H. is planning to develop a “ski park” this winter to help kids and adults to have fun on the snow while developing basic cross country (XC) skiing skills.

In recent years, terrain-based learning has been incorporated into snowboarding instruction at alpine ski areas. It is a natural progression for it to spread to Nordic ski areas, too. Designed instruction areas are created with natural or machine-made snow and can be shaped quickly with a snowcat combining flat and hilly terrain conducive to learning, skier improvement, and fun. This learning terrain helps the learner to have fun by removing fear from sliding out of control and perhaps even adding a fairyland setting.


Sue Weymss, Great Glen’s ski director said she first saw the idea of snow features in a book called “Teaching Children to Ski” and has been experimenting with terrain features and a fun obstacle course for the area’s annual one day Kids SkiFest for the last few years.

“We want to extend the terrain features to the entire season with snow roller coasters, trail bumps with rises and dips, a maze with markers, hula hoop arches, and more,” she told SnoCountry.com.

Kids have always been interested in building jumps and skiing kamikaze for kicks. With snowmaking at so many of the XC ski areas, operators can now consider building more terrain-based elements for specific purposes. Such elements might include elongated bowls, quarter pipes, rolling hills, spines, mounds, rails, boxes, and such.

The instructional terrain concept has been shown to allow faster technique learning progression by aiding balance and body awareness and it also helps with depth perception and ease of class segmentation (for instance, class age or fitness divisions).

The terrain could have a flat instruction area sloped a few percent to facilitate proper learning of stance, glide, and turning. Some rolling terrain with interspersed bumps could resemble trail skiing. Hill terrain with steeper slopes can have flat runouts that make the skier feel more safe and in control. Depending on the slope and length of runout, hills can provide the setting for downhill technique, telemark turns, and even slalom courses.

Great Glen is looking at various locations for the planned area on its property and one idea is to have it visible for parents and grandparents to watch their kids have fun in the snow.

“We’re family-oriented offering a compact and safe area,” she said. Kids love the tunnel and skiing to our tubing park. We see parents who feel comfortable letting the kids go to ski on the trails themselves.” Terrain parks that help new skiers build ski skills and confidence just could go a long way for a great time XC skiing and for a lifetime of fun in the outdoors.

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Pinkham Notch, NH – Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center is offering a three-day outdoor activities camp in mid-August to kids entering sixth through eighth grades this fall. The camp will take advantage of Great Glen’s scenic trail system, mountain bike rentals and paddling program, and be led by longtime Great Glen ski, kayak and outdoor program instructor, Sue Wemyss.


The camp will meet for activities at Great Glen on Tuesday, August 19 and Wednesday, August 20, 9:00 to 11:30 am. These activities will include mountain biking, trail running, games, obstacle courses and some outdoor fitness training.  On Thursday, August 21, the group will meet at Great Glen at 1 pm, then depart by van to a boat launching site on the Androscoggin River, for the afternoon’s point-to-point kayaking trip.

The camp is limited to ten participants and pre-registration is required.  For more info or to register, please contact Sue at Great Glen Trails: 603-466-2333; ext. 146 or email, sue@greatglentrails.com.

Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center, in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, is located at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road. Offering an abundance of outdoor activities for all skill levels, the Center has programs and resources for adventure in every season in the White Mountains. For more information, visit www.GreatGlenTrails.com.


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Nearly $4,000 raised for ALS at the Carl Johnson Memorial Ski-A-Thon

PINKHAM NOTCH, NH-The 7th annual Carl Johnson Memorial Ski-a-Thon, held last weekend at Great Glen Trails, raised $3,716 for the ALS Foundation. Held each March since 2008, the Nordic ski event is held fondly in Carl Johnson’s memory, who lost his courageous battle to ALS in 2006.

The FUNdraiser, as it has become known at Great Glen Trails, gives anyone who participates a chance to ski as many Nordic laps as they like, while raising money for the ALS Foundation. Prizes awarded this year were to Steve Piotrow for the most laps completed; Christine Fleming for the most money raised; and Jen Simon for the loudest and wackiest ski tights of the day.

ski-a-thon, xc race, ALS, fundraiser, carl johnson ski-a-thon

“It was a beautiful sunny day, a perfect way to remember Carl.” Explained Carl’s wife, Christine Fleming. “The warm spring air brought his love for wearing silly tights and his fun-loving spirit was also felt that afternoon. The Ski-a-Thon is always a good way to honor his wish to find a cure for ALS. He always gave his time to help scientists do studies with him and research as much as they could. He was definitely watching over us that day.”

Raffle items were also generously donated to help raise funds. Two wooden bowls hand-turned by local artist and Great Glen Trails AmbassadorEd Good and a vase hand-crafted by local Olympian Sean Doherty were raffled off. The wood burls were harvested from a property shared by both the Doherty’s and Carl and Christine.

xc skiing, carl johnson memorial, ski a thon

Carl’s wife Christine (middle) and friends

“Whether in the timing shack for Nordic Meisters, volunteering for one of our many events, or just lending a helping hand, Carl was well-known here at Great Glen Trails.” Explained Howie Wemyss, Great Glen Trails General Manager. “This ski event is held in his memory – and as he would have liked, it’s all about fun.”

Online donations are still welcome through December 14, 2014. The ALS Association is the only non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front and builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure. Additional information about ALS can be found on the ALS Association website www.alsa.org.

Located at the base of Mt. Washington, Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center is a year-round destination for outdoor and fitness enthusiasts. Winter offerings include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing and the one-of-a-kind SnowCoach. Mountain biking, paddling, Nordic walking and trail running are popular in summer. For more information, visit www.GreatGlenTrails.com or call 603-466-2333.

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