After years of existing as a club sport, skiing is now officially a school-sponsored sport, as Nome-Beltz Ski/Biathlon Team.
While Nome has had an active ski team for many years, being able to participate as an official school sport releases funding to buy extra equipment and get new uniforms.
Coach Rosa Wright describes the 2022 season as the team’s “maiden voyage”. So far, much of the focus has been team building and sportsmanship.
“The kids have been helping groom trails, clear brush, all that kind of thing as kind of a community service thing. They’ve been working on creating those trails to offer them to community members as well,” said coach Wright. She added that the coaches are figuring out what kinds of training works best for the skiers.
“We have a couple kids from the team this year who had never seen snow before moving here, and so they skied for the first time. And then we’ve had kids that have skied previously, maybe in other villages or have been skiing through Nome Nordic as well. We’ve had kids who’ve skied with us for two days and then decided that skiing wasn’t for them, and we’ve had kids who’ve stuck it out all season,” Wright said. The coaches’ main desire is to get kids outside in a “human-powered way,” showing kids that they can face and enjoy Alaska’s wintery outdoors without snowmachines or the like.
While students have done well in meets so far, Wright says what makes her most proud of her team is the sportsmanship they’ve displayed throughout the season.
“We celebrate when we fall because it means we are learning. And whenever we race, the kids cheer for everybody, it’s not just our team. They really showed a level of maturity and respect for other people they were racing with. Winning is awesome, but these kids really did more than just winning, and that was to conduct themselves with such grace and sportsmanship,” Wright said.
Nome-Beltz’ new ski team at the Nome Invitational. (Image courtesy of Nome-Beltz student activities, used with permission.)