ANTALYA, Turkey – The International Ski Federation honored the Maine Winter Sports Center’s “Healthy Hometowns” program with second place in its global FIS SnowKidz Awards. The award was presented at the conclusion of the weeklong FIS Congress in Antalya, Turkey.
The program, which earned the USSA’s Russell Wilder Award a year ago for contributions to youth, was among eight finalists worldwide. The top prize went to Norway with its Barnas Skiklubb (kids ski club) program.
A total of 23 applications from 19 national associations were received along with nine others from aid and promotion causes for developing ski nations.
“The aim of the FIS SnowKidz program is to recognize innovative programs that are introducing snow sports to youth,” said Maine Winter Sports Center Vice President Eileen Carey, who was in Antalya to accept the award. “MWSC’s Healthy Hometowns aspires to be a catalyst for youth to lead a healthy lifestyle through a variety of ski-based initiatives.”
With a presence in nearly 100 Maine communities, Healthy Hometowns provides introductory programming for thousands of youth participants each year, through portable ski equipment trailers that travel to Maine communities and schools, seasonal affordable ski rentals and elite athlete school visits. The program also includes an academic school curriculum run in conjunction with major events that are hosted by MWSC’s member clubs.
The eight finalist programs were showcased in a FIS Congress display during the week, providing the more than 1,000 delegates from 74 nations a chance to learn more from the best practices of the award winning programs.
“It is an honor to be recognized among so many great programs,” said Carey. “One of the best aspects of the award is it provides an opportunity to learn from innovative programs throughout the world that are driving development of snow sports for the next generation.”
In addition to the 5,000 Swiss francs awarded to each of the eight finalists, the Maine program was presented another 8,000 Swiss francs for second.
“This was an outstanding program for the FIS to recognize best practices in getting kids onto the snow,” said USSA Vice President, Athletics and two-time Olympian Luke Bodensteiner. “We’re honored to have the Maine Winter Sports Center recognized as one of the top three FIS SnowKidz programs in the world and hope it will encourage other USSA clubs to develop innovative ways to spread the word about our healthful, lifelong sports.”
The eight finalists were selected by a panel including Satu Kalajainen of Finland, representing the FIS Youth and Children’s’ Coordination Group; Essar Gabriel of Lebanon, head of the IOC Youth Olympic Games; and Swiss Riet R. Campell, President of the International Ski Instructors’ Association. The FIS Council made the final decision on the top three.
FIS SnowKidz Award Finalists
1. Barnas Skiklubb, Norway
2. Maine Winter Sports Center, Healthy Hometowns Program, USA
3. Schneekinderleicht – Bewegtes Land, Germany
Suusabuss (Skibus), Estonia
Snow Day, Hungary
Skilly Day, Italy
Teach the Teachers to Ski, Finland
Naltar Ski School, Pakistan
“The more I learned about these projects in all the nations I felt proud – extremely proud,” said Kalajainen, one of the judges and chair of the FIS Youth and Children’s Coordination Group. “Each of you have every reason to be proud of what is going on with youth and children in your countries.”
“This is the first time we have awarded this special prize and we will, of course, continue,” said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. “You know, it’s not always a question of money – it’s a question of what you can do in your nation for the kids, and that doesn’t always cost a lot to bring them to the snow.”
Fans can check out more information on FIS SnowKidz at: http://snowkidz.fisski.com/.