Alaska attracts the snow wanderer. From the seasonal transient to holiday line chaser, ski faithful flock to the Last Frontier—and some cannot help but to stay.
Those with moxy enough to set root in AK soil are likely to grow a little something for their efforts. That’s the circle of life, and it lends Girdwood’s Alyeska Resort an ever-impressive crop of ski-town ‘up-and-comers’.
Here they start ‘em young. And while micro-groms a-shuffle alongside avid ski-parents is a happy commonality of global ski culture, at Alyeska the mini-shredder learns upon coastally situated slopes–at sea level. The environmental factors inherent to such geography make for strong skiers, and their skills show early.
Beginning in elementary years, local scholastic programming lends educational support to the ski effort. Girdwood’s state-of-the-art Kindergarten thru Eighth grade school, incorporates into its curriculum, snow-based activities like ‘School Ski Day,’ an undeniably cool ancillary benefit to growing up in the shadow of Mount Alyeska.
Parents state-wide recognize the intangible gift that is ease of access to all-ages skiing and, in their wish to provide that prize for the whole family, is thankfully aided by Alyeska Resort’s Mountain Learning Center, a proactive team that emphasizes to its students the joy of snowsport as much as teaches its mechanics.
Education on mountain safety too begins at the youth level. Alyeska Resort’s Junior Patrol program is an interactive learning platform that imparts vital skills while exciting eager youth skiers about the possibility of turning their snow-passion into a life-long career.
External from the resort proper—and indelibly etched upon the pages of Alaska ski history—is former Glacier Creek Ski Academy. The Academy comprised instruction plus lodging opportunities, featuring hockey, soccer and, of course, skiing. The now mothballed Ski Academy was (and is) a foundation block to the area’s tenacious ski heritage, and standouts from among its many notable attendees achieved champion recognition at Junior National and Olympic levels.
Also to inter-weave among a child’s seemingly long spanning years of youth is Alyeska Ski & Snowboard Club. Alyeska Mighty Mites teaches fundamentals of alpine and race skiing to ages 6-12yrs while DEVO I&II programs imparts free-ski, race and gates skills to skiers ages 8-15yrs. Juniors programming then develops competitive skill sets among 11 to 20 yr-old skiers, and Masters builds still further upon that line with enhanced training that caters to competitors 21yrs and older.
Parallel ski skill development, catering more closely to the park minded, also exists at Alyeska. The resort’s Freeride Program distills eyebrow raising all-mountain abilities into finally tuned, crowd pleasing lines that extend from summit to kickers to pipe to rails, and beyond.
But as comprehensively and technically impressive as Alyeska and Girdwood youth ski programming reads, it would achieve little without the enthusiasm of its participants. Along Turnagain Arm, indeed around Alaska, skiing is a hallowed way of life; a rite of passage to be shared from adult to child. And at Alyeska Resort, in particular, those Groms seem to possess a love and respect for mountain culture that not only turning heads but changes lives.