LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Nate Ball had fallen multiple times. His shorts were ripped and his legs were shaky. Despite the fact that it was Ball’s second time on rollerskis, he was ready to take on his next challenge – beat his pervious time of 30 seconds on the race course World Cup stage-winner Simi Hamilton had created for him.
Ball, a 10-year-old who skis and jumps for the New York Ski Education Foundation, was participating in the second-ever Speed Camp put on by the men of the U.S. Ski Team.
The September 5 event took place at the Olympic Jumping Complex and was aimed at introducing young skiers to speed on rollerskis.
A brainchild of Andy Newell and Hamilton, Speed Camp was a male version to Chandra Crawford’s girls event, Fast and Female.
The roughly 20 participants at the Speed Camp filled a spectrum of ages, ranging from 9-year-olds to a older local coach aiming to increase his knowledge of rollerski technique.
“This is my second time on rollerskis. It’s good and hard,” Ball said. “The guys are nice.”
When asked what his favorite part of the day was, the 10-year-old responded with excitement saying, “The one time I did the downhill without falling!”
At the nearby Olympic Training Center a similar event for youngsters of the opposite gender was taking place.
The U.S. Ski Team women in addition to the women of U.S. Biathlon were hosting a popular Fast and Female workshop.
Like the Speed Camp, Fast and Female is geared toward girls aged nine to 19. Unlike the Speed Camp, there was a lot of glitter involved.
In it’s ninth year, Fast and Female events have become wildly popular across the continent. This year alone, Annie Pokorny of the SMST2 team told FasterSkier that she has helped lead three of the events and has one more scheduled this fall.
At the Lake Placid gathering, girls were introduced to the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Biathlon skiers who would be leading the event.
After the introduction in which skiers stating her favorite place to ski, the group headed to the center’s gym where they participated in rhythmic dancing, an obstacle course, and one-on-one instruction in skiing and shooting.
According to the organizers of the Lake Placid event, the goal of Fast and Female gatherings are to create an environment where girls and women are comfortable and excited to be active in sport.
A little inspiration from Olympians Jessie Diggins, Sophie Caldwell, Liz Stephen and Susan Dunklee doesn’t hurt.
Both Speed Camp and Fast and Female demonstrate a marked effort by the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Biathlon to give back to the communities in which they train. Whether it’s learning how to slalom with Hamilton or dancing next to Caldwell, America’s top skiers are attempting to make a positive impact on the lives of the next generation of athletes.
If the big smiles of participants were any indication, it would appear that their efforts were working.
Lander Karath is FasterSkier's Associate Editor from Bozeman, Montana and a Bridger Ski Foundation alumnus. Between his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, he is an outdoor enthusiast and a political junkie.