Kids learn how to Jump, Slide, Skate | ParkRecord.com
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Kids learn how to Jump, Slide, Skate

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

The fourth-grade students at Parley’s Park Elementary could hardly contain their enthusiasm Wednesday morning. Rather than the usual physical education classes, some special guests from the Utah Olympic Park (UOP) were visiting along with an array of equipment just begging to be played with.

The program is a joint effort between the Utah Winter Sports Alliance and the Utah Athletic Foundation called Jump, Slide, Skate. It’s an opportunity for fourth and fifth graders in Park City to try some of the sports that the Utah Olympic Park and the Utah Olympic Oval have to offer. The sports include, luge, skeleton, speed skating, ski jumping, ice skating and freestyle skiing.

This isn’t the first time that the Utah Winter Sports Alliance has gone into schools to talk about youth sport offerings. For the past few years, they have been holding assemblies during which they talk to kids and show a video about different sports, said Janet Peterson, outreach director for YWSA, but eventually realized that they might need a different approach.

"We felt like kids learn better with hands on," Peterson said.

Personnel from each of the respective activities came to Parley’s Park armed with an array of equipment to teach the children about their sport.

"We want to open the students’ eyes to all of the sports," said Debbie Brown, Marketing, Community and Sport Development Manager for the Utah Olympic Oval.

For freestyle skiing, Axis Freeride director Chris "Hatch" Haslock had a series of pads he borrowed from Black Diamond Gymnastics. Kids jumped from a stool, pulled a 360-dregree turn or more and crashed into the padding, simulating the twist and turns of freestyle skiing. Ski jumping required a mix of a broad jump to test distance and then a lead onto a padded platform to mock the lift-off. Speedskating used carpet squares for "skating" in tennis shoes.

Luge and skeleton gave the kids the most accurate feel for their sport with actual sleds being rolled along the floor.

"Everybody wants to do skeleton," Utah Bobsled and Skeleton Association president Don Croce said. "It’s great because it’s interactive. All we want is them up at the Park."

Brown and Peterson agree that the interactive approach is working thus far. Even less-athletic or cautious kids have jumped right into the activities.

"I haven’t had one kid say, ‘I can’t do this or I’m afraid,’" Peterson said. "They’ve had a ball. It’s a good environment for them."

Peterson says that the interest is, in part, because of the volunteers who are teaching about the sports.

"The people who are doing it are experts at working with kids and explaining it at their level," she said.

The kids seemed to enjoy the event. Fourth grader Ben Lykes said that he had a blast in Wednesday’s class.

"It was really fun" Lykes said. "I liked all of the sports, especially skeleton and luge. I think I might try them again."

And the fun doesn’t stop with the gym class presentations. The students were given flyers inviting them for free "learn-to" clinics at the UOP and the Oval. The clinics are weekly through the beginning of March, so kids have plenty of opportunities to give these new sports a try. Peterson says there is a misconception that families just know these sports are out there and that their kids can become involved. With the Jump, Slide, Skate Program and the free clinics, she is hoping that people will realize what opportunities lay literally, in their backyards.

"We’re trying to bring awareness to the kids of what’s available," Paterson said. "I think we assume people know these sports are available."

Beyond the open times of the "learn-to" clinics, the free aspect allows all kids to at least give the sports a try with no cost to their parents. Peterson points out that many of the sports try to keep their cost low in youth programs so children from all backgrounds can participate.

"We’re trying to open it up and not restrict it," Peterson said. "With the YWSA, we try to keep the fees low so everyone can participate."

In the future, the YWSA wants to offer more opportunities to area youth, including transportation up to the UOP to try various sports and after-school skiing on Fridays at a low cost. The Oval plans on bringing kids to the rink a week before the short-track speedskating World Cup races in February to give them a chance to watch Apolo Ohno train.

The Jump, Slide, Skate free clinics will run continuously through March. For dates, times and more information about the program, visit http://www.jumpskateslide.com or call 1-866-OLY-PARKS. For more information on the Youth Winter Sports Alliance, call 901-3715 or visit http://www.ywsa.org.


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