On Sunday March 3, 130 Nancy Greene racers from Kicking Horse, Kimberley, and Fernie came together at Kicking Horse for GKHAT’s annual NGSL event. It was a cold and bluebird day as athletes headed out to inspect the panelled glalom and ski cross courses. All the volunteers and athletes were happy that the power of the sun was strong and before long the temperature was comfortable enough for all to enjoy a great day of racing in the sun.
We decided to try a new format this year, moving from the traditional GS race of years past, with medals and ribbons for the top 10, to an awards ceremony with no ranked results. At the awards ceremony all the athletes were called up on stage with their team and all received “Racer” ribbons. The glalom was timed, partially for our timing crew to stay in shape, but also to maintain the race feel and for athletes to look at their own times and compare run to run. Results were published and sorted alphabetically by athlete with year of birth removed. The ski cross was a 'just-for-fun' format with all athletes from U6 to U12 having a blast racing their friends, and even their parents and coaches!
The ultimate goal of this shift was to put the focus of athletes and parents on building motivation to race with a love for the sport, and the intrinsic reward of a good performance. We want to facilitate race events where the kids can actually focus on enjoying the event with fun and friends, while gaining comfort with the environment of race day and the added motivation to perform. Some were skeptical at first, citing that many kids are motivated to get better because of the positive reinforcement from winning. Our view is that the few for whom the podium is within reach, and a good motivator, will still get the positive feedback (a good run feels good, medal or not), and that the positive experience for the rest of the field to have fun, and not be discouraged, will mean that they enjoy race days more and will stay in racing longer, giving themselves time to strive for podiums once they reach racing at the zone level.
Overall, feedback from families and visiting coaches has been positive! Everybody enjoyed the relaxed vibe of the day while keeping the environment of a race day with bibs, timing, banners, awards, and everything else. It certainly didn’t hurt that we were able to start awards almost immediately after the racing was complete. The ceremony was quick and fun and did not drag on super long when families wanted to hit the road.
We are already planning ways to make this event better and more fun next year, with a friendly and fun-filled competitive environment. Hope to see you there!
~ Report submitted by Ryan Ford, Head Coach GKHAT