1-2-3 Ski celebrates milestone
A unique learn-to-ski program initiated eight years ago by the Auburn Ski Club marked a milestone this winter when it hosted its 10,000th participant.
The program, called 1-2-3 Ski, was originated and is led by Ross Gralia, a longtime club member and certified cross-country ski instructor. As the name suggests, the program is designed for first, second and third grade students.
The 10,000 mark was surpassed Feb. 15 when 75 second and third-graders from Colfax Elementary School in Colfax traveled to the Auburn Ski Club Training Center on a 1-2-3 Ski field trip. The club and students commemorated the occasion with a large cake and group photo.
“Our program is unique in two respects,” says Gralia. “We have the Western SkiSport Museum, which is one of the finest ski museums in the nation; and secondly, we are bringing people up to the mountains who don’t live in snow country.”
“There are lots of people who live on the edge of this giant mountain range, and they don’t go to it very much. In almost every class, we have kids, and sometimes parents, who haven’t been in the snow before.”
Gralia, who spends almost 40 hours a week on the program from January through March, coordinates with teachers and travels to schools where he instructs youngsters on ski terminology and dressing for the snow. Six to eight classes visit the training center each week, usually on Wednesdays and Thursdays, where Gralia and other instructors use a stadium set-up and nine different ski games as teaching tools.
Underwritten by the Auburn Ski Club, the program fee includes use of ski equipment. With schools and parents providing transportation, the only cost to participants is $3 for a day’s membership to the club. In its eight years, 1-2-3 Ski has become a tradition at many schools around the Sierra foothills and Sacramento Valley.
Gralia maintains a waiting list for teachers who have asked to join the popular program.
Bill Clark, executive director of the Auburn Ski Club, credits Gralia for his love of skiing and willingness to share his knowledge and enthusiasm with the younger generation.
For information on 1-2-3 Ski and other cross country, downhill, snowboard and ski jumping programs, call (530) 426-3313.
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