Prince Albert Ski League looks for big air at inaugural Skills Demo Day

Photo from the Prince Albert Ski League Facebook page. A young member of the Prince Albert Ski League performs a trick off a jump in 2021. The ski league will host a Skills Demo Day at Little Red River Park on Saturday, Feb. 11.

More than 35 youth skiers will be jumping, tucking, and turning down the hill at Little Red River Park on Saturday when the Prince Albert Ski League hosts its inaugural Skills Demo Day.

The event will bring together a mix of local and out-of-town skiers who want to practice their skills, but aren’t ready to take part in regular competition. Ski League president Amanda Hounjet said it also helps the skiers make friends, while promoting the sport to a wider audience.

(It’s to) get them skiing together, and it’s a way where they can develop and demonstrate their skills in a fun and encouraging atmosphere,” Hounjet explained. “It’s not a competition. It’s more like, ‘hey, look what I can do.’ We wanted just to give this opportunity to some of the kids who are not competing just quite yet, or are just working on their skills.”

Provincial freestyle ski training typically takes place in North Battleford, where skiers can use the “air bag” to practice their jumps. However, Hounjet said the hills at Little Red River Park offer plenty of challenges for developing skiers to show off their skills.

“Little Red is amazing,” she said. “They have a nice little slope-style park, like a little terrain park, for us, so we’ll be able to utilize some of the features that the hill has for us, so it’s going to be an awesome day for the kids, and it’s supposed to be beautiful.”

The Prince Albert Ski League has three skiing levels: Learn to Ski, Fundamentals, and Competitor Development. The majority of Saturday’s club members ski in the fundamentals group. While some may compete in provincial club competitions further down the line, Saturday’s event is about enjoyment instead of winning.

Like most sports and culture organizations, the Prince Albert Ski League had to make changes when COVID-19 hit. The all-volunteer organization had to rely more and more on parents to help with basic drills.

Hounjet said the club has a strong sense of community, which helped them stay operational during the last two years. As of 2023, they now have 47 skiers, an increase from the year before, although most are two young to compete at the provincial level.

“It’s not always just about competing and competitions. It’s about … those health benefits that you get from skiing and just making friends and (gaining) confidence, and getting out, and having fun,” Hounjet explained. “It’s just such a beautiful place in our back yard. We have this awesome opportunity to learn to ski in our backyard, so why not.”

Saturday’s Skills Day will focus on turning drills, a skill Hounjet says is the foundation of any good skier, along with a roller tank course, which is used to get young skiers acclimatized to moguls, and a speed section. Skiers will also have a chance to show off their tricks on the big air or small air jumps.

Hounjet said the Kinsmen Ski and Snowboard Centre has been a great help to the league, as have the numerous businesses who donated prizes for those participating in Saturday’s event.

“It’s just so nice to work with people who want to better our kids and want to encourage the confidence in our kids,” she said.

The Prince Albert Ski League Skills Demo Day begins with check-ins at noon, followed by the Opening Ceremonies at 12:45. Skiers will rotate between the turning, speed trap and roller tank course sections, with the big air demonstrations scheduled for 4 p.m.

For more information, visit the Prince Albert Ski League Facebook page.

@kerr_jas •