The Yellowstone Ski Festival means many things to many people. The five-day cross-country ski festival can be a time to brush off the storage wax and ski for the first time each season. It can be a chance for professional racers to earn valuable points towards the World Cup. It can be an opportunity to demo new gear before the holiday season. It can be a new Thanksgiving tradition for you and yours. The Yellowstone Ski Festival is all of this and more.
The essence of the Yellowstone Ski Festival was visible on the trails this past Saturday. On the last day of the official festival, most competitive skiers had just completed three days of intense races. By late afternoon, many teams were hurrying out of town before the next storm. However, two professional athletes and incredible young men donated their time and energy to the first ever Kuzzy Kids Clinic in West Yellowstone sponsored by the SISU skiers of St. Paul, MN.
Garrott Kuzzy and Brian Gregg are professional cross-country ski racers. Kuzzy was a member of the 2010 US Olympic Team and both are part of the elite CXC racing team. They led 30 kids from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, Great Britain, and Utah through 90 minutes of pure fun on skis. Kuzzy and Gregg divided the 6 to 12 years olds and taught them to warm up, run drills, ski backwards, and how to pose on the podium.
At the end of the clinic there were beaming faces, laughter, and a group shot. Kuzzy and Gregg addressed the young skiers on bended knee. They explained that no U.S cross-country skier has ever earned an Olympic gold medal. Kuzzy leaned in and said, “You know, I think one of you just might be the first.” Kids roared and their parents choked back tears. In that moment, the true meaning of the Yellowstone Ski Festival was evident to all. Olympians and rank beginners can share the same snow and leave with a lifetime of inspiration.
Photos credit: Rich Jehle.