AVSC’s Base Camp opens doors for kids
Often identified by her pistachio green ski helmet, Rae “Coach RaeRae” Christian is an Aspen Skiing Co. pro, one of more than 300 ASC pros who teach for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s Base Camp program, which is a recreational component of the club.
“Our Saturday programs at Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk aim to get local kids outside and away from technology in a safe setting where they can test their courage, make new friends and gain confidence,” said AVSC Base Camp Director Trish Shepard.
The club’s Base Camp program – involving over 1,600 kids this year — sets AVSC apart from most clubs in the country (most only focus on competitive programs).
Based out of the Treehouse in Snowmass Village, Christian is an AVSC Base Camp vet of 22 years who began her ski-instructing career while in college.
“Living on the Western Slope, skiing is such a big focus of outdoor recreation in the winter,” she said.
Christian, who has been a public educator since 1980, is currently a second-grade teacher at Basalt Elementary School where she has taught for the last 26 years.
“A lot of the kids I ski-instruct are students at my school in Basalt, or they are a sibling of a student that I currently have,” Christian said. “It ended up that I knew the majority of the kids through the Basalt area.”
This season, Christian taught a group of 3- to 6-year-old skiers who called themselves the “Purple Cupcakes,” in correlation to their purple ski bibs.
“These little kids are so motivated and strong; they just need somebody to take them out there and ski with them,” Christian said, “You see a lot of growth in that level of a skier.”
When not on the slopes, her group never slowed down, engaging in scavenger hunts, art projects and the exploration of dinosaur bones.
“It’s an experience where you are giving them a lot more than just skiing,” Christian said. “These kids are connected now; they are friends.”
Base Camp pros also emphasize AVSC’s core values: commitment, teamwork and integrity.
They also emphasize the social and character assets recommended by Aspen Community Foundation’s Cradle to Career Initiative: creativity, hope, perseverance and social responsibility.
To close the season, AVSC is hosting Base Camp Race and Celebration Day on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m.
Festivities will take place on Snowmass Mountain just above Lizard Lodge, where four race courses will be set up based on skiing ability along with several snowboard features.
AVSC Adaptive alpine athletes had a strong performance at last week’s IPC World Cup Tech Finals.
Thomas Walsh and Andrew Kurka dominated giant slalom bringing home gold in their respective sport class.
Laurie Stephens showed consistency, making it to the podium all three days of racing.
The AVSC Freestyle team had a great weekend at the Telluride Mogul Open, resulting in improved performances for the team.
Colby Lee made it to the podium Sunday, placing second.
“Next weekend brings the Divisional Championships in Winter Park, and Colby will compete in his second NorAm in Killington , Vermont,” said Garth Hager, AVSC Mogul head coach.
The CHSAA High School Skiing Championships and U14 Championships hosted by AVSC yielded four exciting days of Nordic skiing.
On Saturday and Sunday, the club’s high school athletes gave back to the program lending a hand in course prep, announcing and course control.
“The impact it had on the younger kids to see the older athletes invested in their race weekend was huge,” said Maria Stuber, AVSC Nordic Base Camp director. “It was a special weekend.”
The U.S. men dominated in the superpipe at Winter X Games Oslo with a podium sweep.
AVSC alumni Torin Yater-Wallace brought home gold while Alex Ferreira took second.
Telluride native and U.S. Freeskiing teammate Gus Kenworthy placed third.
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