TRAVERSE CITY — Duane Amato’s family enjoyed the We Ski program so much that they went not once, but twice.
Now Amato’s two teenage sons are so fluid on cross country skis that one participates on the nordic ski team at Traverse City West and the other is part of the Junior VASA group at West Middle School.
The We Ski program — a one day per week, three-week program — is back for a fifth year, providing cross country skiing enthusiasts the opportunity to either improve their skills or try the sport for the first time. This year’s program, limited to 90 registrants, starts Thursday and continues over the next two Thursdays at Timber Ridge Resort. The program is a partnership between the North American VASA, the Vasa Ski Club and Timber Ridge.
“We wanted to provide an opportunity for families and individuals to learn to cross country ski and to improve the skills of those who already know how,” said Linda Deneen, who is the coordinator for the program. “We also wanted it to be an evening of camaraderie, so we have a snack before the lessons, then go have an hour lesson, and then come in and have a nutritious dinner afterward.”
When the Amatos took part in We Ski for the first time, Duane had about 25 years of experience cross country skiing, but his wife Vicki had only tried the sport a few times and the two boys, Nick, now 17, and Andrew, now 13, were simply beginners.
“The We Ski program, in my opinion, is probably the best opportunity for a family to get involved and learn how to ski,” said Duane Amato. “It gives the people who have never been on skis the opportunity and a family an opportunity at a low cost to go out there and give it a try for that three weeks. I’ve seen many people who are skiing as a result of those first couple of years.”