SWAIN — There are generations of students who have conquered the slopes, and many of them have done it for years.
Swain Resort Race Director Nikole Berry reached out to Genesee Country Express to learn about this prestigious event.
Berry said the students work extremely hard every year to prepare for the races in the season. The first race of the season was held Jan. 3. Batavia, Bath-Haverling, Livonia, Arkport-Canaseraga, Alfred-Almond, Wayland-Cohocton, Keshequa, and Geneseo all competed for the championship.
It has been at least three decades that Swain Resort has held high school races on their famous slopes. There have been many schools who have dropped their ski programs over that time period, but others have kept going.
“The students like to go out and inspect the course before the race, so that they know where everything is,” Berry said. “They try to get in a couple of practices before the race.”
In the last few years the parents all worked together to make signs for the students. These signs are placed at the stations the students wait at until it is their turn to take the slopes.
“The parents are very supportive of the students,” Berry said. “They make signs, volunteer as gatekeepers, and bring in food.”
Some of the best coaches in the state are at Swain, and these coaches put all of their passion into the races.
“We want all of the students to get the best coaching experience we can offer,” Berry said. “We have coaches that used to do the races in high school, and now they are training other students. We want them to learn from the best.”
There is a team called Mountain Monsters that start students out from about five years old to 12 years old. Berry mentioned how impressed she is with the younger students, and how they gain skill before they get into high school.
“I love how the parents get really involved with the races, and the students work really hard every year,” she said. “Some go on to race in college.”
Kevin Walsh is considered the most experienced coach in Swain Resort. Berry said that he is a great coach to the students.
Since this is Olympics season there is a lot more excitement over the skiing sport.
Keshequa Ski Coach Kelly Mann had been part of the Ski Club before teaching the program to students.
“We have been competing here for at least 20 years,” she said. “It has grown a lot in that time. We started out with about five students, and now we have 22. This is a lifelong sport. They can ski for the rest of their lives if they wanted to.”
Mann said that her students have made lifelong friendships with other school students over the years as well. These students range from seventh to 12th grade for the Swain Resort High School Races.
“This is something you can start in seventh grade, but you can join anytime,” Mann said. “We have some that have been doing it the whole time. We have a strong Ski Club.”
This sport tends to be a family thing; as sisters and brothers will join up together.
Dansville Central used to be a part of this, but Mann said they lost interest in the sport.
Swain Resort Coach Samantha Bennett used to take to the slopes when she was in high school, and now she has the pleasure of coaching.
“It is amazing to start out as a student, and now be coaching the sport,” she said. “I am working with a lot of the coaches I grew up learning from.”
Berry said that Bennett is here everyday setting up the course and coaching the students.
“They have all been very helpful to someone who came in with no racing background,” she said. “I was in Ski Club in high school, but I didn’t compete in races.”
Wayland-Cohocton Ski Coach Greg Murray was also part of the Ski Club for many years.
“We have had a team for over 20 years,” he said. “We have about nine students interested now. Some have been doing this since seventh grade.”
Murray said he just wants to get all of his students across that finish line.
“If we can get them through the race that is all that matters,” he said.
Swain Resort Race results can be found on Live-Timing.com under U.S. Races. You search for the day and location of the race, and you can see where your children are on the list.
The top 10 results on the first race of the season are the following; Russell Brownell, Geneseo, 1:19.94 total; Noah Hill, Bath, 1:20.83 total; Garrett Stuckey, Arkport, 1:20.95 total; Adam Hunt, Keshequa, 1:23.42 total; Dominic Fucci, Arkport, 1:24.87 total; Tyler Timothy, Arkport, 1:24.88 total; Cody Candie, Wayland, 1:25.07 total; Dakota Lacy, Arkport, 1:25.42 total; Patrick Aini, Arkport, 1:26.66 total; and Christopher (Zane) Monroe Simonowicz, Wayland, 1:26.72 total.
For more information about Swain Resort visit https://swain.com/