Spirit North gets Indigenous youth out cross-country skiing, inspiring them to have the sport as a life-long interest. Photo courtesy, Spirit North
Les Parsons, who lives in Bonnyville, is considered the cross-country ski guru in northern Alberta’s rural areas. He was Olympic cross-country skier Beckie Scott’s coach since she was a young teen, travelling with her to many Olympics over the years. He’s pumped about the new interest in Nordic skiing.
“I’m calling it the COVID cross-country skiing craze … it’s just exploded,” Parsons says, noting that a lot of local sporting good stores have sold out of gear. (The problem is aggravated by an October fire at a large Fischer ski factory in Ukraine.)
Parsons is heavily involved in Spirit North, an organization that works with Indigenous youth to inspire them to have a lifelong interest in Nordic skiing. He says the initiative to get young people on the trails has been rewarding.
“For these kids, we call it back to the land; they’ve got a connection. And the kids who don’t like to be in the classroom, they would rather be outside cutting a line (through the snow),” says Parsons.
Kids are tired of staring into their screens, whether it’s for schooling or gaming, he says. “(Cross-country skiing) is one of the few sports you can do and get physically distanced. Youth have spent all their time on Fortnite, they’re sick and tired of it.”
Parsons’ passion for the sport is contagious. In his mind, Nordic skiing is best summed up by the five Fs: family, fun, friends, fitness and fresh air, as well as being the cornerstone to getting Alberta’s rural communities outdoors and enjoying non-mechanized winter sports.
Spirit North works with schools and educators to advance academic outcomes through sport and activity programs, here’s...
Posted by Spirit North on Saturday, November 28, 2020