The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

GCC hosts Junior Open ski camp


Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

THIS GROUP of skiers arrived first and on time in Depot Park on Sunday. While waiting for the rest of the group to arrive they decided to sit and take a break. These eight young ladies have high hopes of earning scholarships and even skiing professionally.


Ironwood - They arrived in Ironwood Friday evening with the dream of a golden future.

The Junior Open Camp for kids aged 14-19 at Gogebic Community College has brought future collegiate and hopeful national and Olympic quality skiers from the Midwest to work with coach Karmen Whithan on fitness, technique and a love for skiing.

The crop of skiers leaves next Thursday, according to Whithan, as a new group of younger campers shows up.

According to Tobias Albrigtsen, lead media communications director, the kids will stay primarily on the campus of GCC, but their training may bring them throughout the community on the local trail networks. There are roller skiing events, agility drills, backwards skiing, relays and obstacle courses to keep the approximately 32 kids active and moving, while also building their skiing skills in the offseason.

Whithan, who skied for Northern Michigan University and spent eight years in the Upper Peninsula before moving to Madison a year ago for this coaching job, said the summer off season is focused on endurance, and running is used to break up the time on roller skis. The kids gain coaching insight and techniques to perform better, while also meeting the other kids they will compete against at events throughout the Midwest.

Whithan said only about a quarter of the kids who attend the camps will ski through college at either the NCAA level or for a club team and maybe only three will earn scholarships, as the competition is great for a limited number of slots. The top 20 placements at Junior Nationals earn scholarships and the quality of those vary, with the closest to first place receiving the best offers, according to Whithan.

The second group of campers, ages 10-13, coached by Bruce Manske, will arrive Thursday and stay until Sunday as part of the Igor Legacy Camp, named after Igor Badamshim, a Russian coach who loved reaching youth to promote skiing and healthy living, according to Albrigtsen.

Albrigtsen said the U-14 campers take their cue from the U-19 group and largely do many of the same events and drills, only tailored for their younger bodies.

While the camps are held in Minnesota and Wisconsin also, the Ironwood and Marquette areas, with their trail systems, lodging, and gentle traffic, are one of the favorite locations for Withan.

Professional skiers, according to Albrigtsen, recorded clips and motivational videos that will be shown throughout the week for both sets of campers. They recorded the clips for the camp to help show the kids the level of dedication required to become a professional skier.

Albrigtsen said they run camps each month through the summer to keep kids active and interested in skiing during the off season. This is the fifth time the ski camp has used the campus of GCC, according to Albrigtsen and Whithan.


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