The NSCF-FXC Prep Team(formerly FXC Devo Team) is designed around the needs of middle school skiers looking to take their skiing to a higher level. Generally these skiers are 11-14 years old or J3s and J2s (born in 1997-2000 for the 2012-3 season), but it can be the right choice from skiers anywhere from 10-16 years of age. As the ‘Prep’ name suggests, this program is designed to prepare skiers for an easy and effective transition to high school competition, as well as regional and national level junior racing. Further refinement of skiing technique, including the introduction of special applications and modifications, is applied through creative and challenging physical training where close attention is paid to key periods for the development of speed, strength and stamina which occur around the growth spurt. Further instruction in ski waxing and training theory, also occur throughout the season.
(The following text is copied from the NSCF Junior Programs Handbook and gives an overview of the program while dealing largely with the Winter program - please see the separate article for information about the Summer and Fall programs)
There is an organizational meeting for parents at the beginning of each winter season.
Training Times and Locations
During winter, the Prep Team has practices up to 5 times a week, although most weeks have only 3 or 4 training sessions. We try to practice at set times throughout the winter, but sometimes take a day off for a special event, because of travel, or just for some added rest. Practices occur on Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 PM, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5:30 to 7 PM, and on Saturdays and Sundays either in the form of a race, a tour, or an afternoon training session.
Most practices are at Birch Hill, although we do try to vary our location when the weather cooperates.
The Prep Team skis until it is colder than 10 below. When it is between 10 and 20 below we will often go for a run and then finish with some indoor activities such as strength or flexibility training, technique drills, stairs or even watching a World Cup race video.
It is no secret that consistent practice is essential to improving technique, fitness and knowledge in skiing. However, we recognize the value in maintaining balance in life and that skiers will have to miss practice at times due to school work, music lessons, family commitments, etc. We believe it is up to each skier and their family to decide what is the right amount of skiing. As such, the NSCF-FXC race teams do not have a required attendance policy.
The Prep Team is coached by the NSCF’s certified professional coaches.
Pete Leonard is the Head Coach of NSCF-FXC and the Director of Skier Development for the NSCF. He has been in Fairbanks since the program’s inception and is entering his sixth winter here. Prior to that he spent two years coaching in Lake Placid, NY after graduating from Williams College where he was captain of the ski team. He has been a member of the Junior National coaching staff for Alaska since 2007, head serviceman for the US J1 Scandinavian Cup Trip in 2011, a coach for the US Team at the World Junior and Under 23 Championships in 2012, is a USSA L100 technique instructor, a member of the Cross Country Alaska Competition Committee, a board member of the Alaska Ski Education Foundation, and serves on the USSA Junior Committee.
Nick Grimmer is the Assistant Coach of NSCF-FXC, working with the Prep and Comp Teams. He is also the Head Coach for Lathrop High School. Nick is in his first year in Fairbanks after recently finishing 8 years on the Australian National Ski Team. He has raced at World Juniors, on the World Cup and at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships. He recently finished a degree in teaching, and alongside racing spent some time coaching a pair of Australian junior athletes toward the World Juniors last winter.
- Skiers are expected to abide by the Prep Team code of conduct which is signed by both the skier and parent before training with the team.
- Skiers are expected to work hard and have a positive attitude.
- Skiers must have the skiing skills, physical fitness and desire to keep up with the group or a subgroup at training in order to assure safety of all members.
Skis: Skiers should have one to two pairs of skis for each technique (classic and skate). If a skier has only one pair for a given technique, they should be of a quality that is appropriate for playing games, so the skier can participate fully in practice. A second pair could be a nicer pair reserved for racing and training when it doesn’t involve games, jumps or other activities that could potentially scratch the bases. The athlete should be responsible for waxing and maintaining their skis.
Boots: Skiers should use either a combi boot that allows for natural movement of the foot and ankle, or have one pair of classic and one pair of skate boots.
Poles: Skiers should have one pair of poles for classic and one pair of poles for skate technique. Skate poles should come up to the lips, and classic poles should come up to the tip of the shoulder.
Clothing: Skiers should come to practice with appropriate clothing for training in cold weather. This includes gloves or split mitts, hats, ear muffs, neck warmers, buffs, balaclavas or other means of covering the skiers face and head. Skiers should dress in layers which should include a synthetic or wool base layer, potentially an insulating mid-layer, as well as a wind-resistant outer layer. Depending on conditions, more clothes may be needed.
Other: Skiers should bring a training bag with them to practice which should include running shoes for indoor training and practices that involve running (both happen once a week or when it is cold), a change of clothing for after practice to stay dry, warm and healthy, water (an insulated drink belt is a nice option for on snow), and a snack to begin the recovery process. Good habits start now!
The NSCF’s junior racing programs view competition as an opportunity to apply the skills one has learned during training, much like a test in school or a recital for a dance class or a concert for a music group. As such, skiers are strongly encouraged - although not required - to take part in local races. We recognize that the actual results at this age have little bearing on the eventual ability of a skier, and try to keep the focus firmly on the application of skiing skills and racing tactics, and challenging one's ability.
We feel strongly that skiers should race age appropriate distances as these allow a skier to ski at high speed for the entire distance (up to 5 km for J3s, and up to 7.5 km for J2s). This allows the skier to reinforce good technical skills, instead of getting tired and developing sloppy habits. In Fairbanks, the Town Race Series, Turkey Day Relays, Besh Cups and Interior Youth Championships all feature age appropriate distances. Longer spring events such as the Tour of Anchorage and Sonot Kkaazoot should be viewed more as endurance challenges, and the emphasis should be on completing the distance, not racing as hard and as fast as possible.
At this level, we feel 10-20 races is an appropriate number over the course of a season.
The Prep Team coaches provide waxing support for all in-town and Besh Cup races. Time is set aside at practice prior to local races for skiers to glide wax their skis with the help of the coaches. This is an important time for skiers to learn good waxing habits and how to take care of their own skis. Additionally, kick waxing help is available for all classic races the morning of the race. For out of town races, arrangements are made for waxing as well.
Special Events and Activities
Besh Cups – Often skiers on the Prep Team are new to the Besh Cup series. A good way to build into the series is to first try the local weekend, and the next year try one weekend of races out of town, before trying the whole series the year after.
Spring Trip – We aim to conclude our season with a team ski trip each spring - typically an overnight event where we stay and ski from a cabin outside of Fairbanks.
How Can Parents Help?
Approximately 50% of the funding for the Prep and Comp Teams comes from tuition and the other half comes from fundraising efforts. As such, we ask all families in the program to volunteer for our various fundraising efforts when they are available, and we ask each family that has been involved in the program for a year or more to take a leadership role in a fundraiser or other task that helps the program. Further details are available at annual meetings.
Cost and Refund Policy
For current costs, please consult the current season's application form.
The refund policy for the Prep Team is as follows: If an athlete ends his or her membership in the program prior to its ending date, he/she will be refunded a daily, pro-rated amount minus a $300 charge. The prorated amount will be calculated from the date of receipt of written notification (email or otherwise).