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  • BIG AIR...
    Dan Egan's Big Air Camp for Kids - Big Fun

    By Peter Michelson

    Photo Paul Larochelle/The Message For The Week Remember when catching big air while skiing could lead to big trouble, like having one's lift ticket pulled and being shown the parking lot? Well those days are over and now ski manufacturers, ski areas and even ex Warren Miller ski film stars are all into turning young skiers and riders on to Big Air in a BIG and safe way.

    Over the Christmas holiday Okemo Mountain Resort, located in South Central Vermont, hosted Dan Egan's Big Air camp for kids. The 'clinic' was a sell out long before the area opened this season.

    "To educate kids in terrain parks and trails and to minimize injuries", says Egan, is the focus of the camp that primarily caters to teens. "We could probably spend eight days in a row here" referring to the response the camp received at Okemo. The camp is offered again during the Presidents week holiday in Feb 2002.

    Okemo, a well-known Vermont resort for its family oriented approach to winter sports, offered the camps in a one or two day format for teen-agers. The teens were instructed by a group of 'New School' skiers and riders, like Mike Nick, a multi medallist from the Winter X Games, who according to Egan, "invented skiing backwards". Participants were video taped each day on the hill and reviewed at day's end during the apr├Ęs ski pizza party. Mike Nick took the time to talk over the tape with the kids to illustrate the good, the bad and the sometimes the ugly from the day's sessions, all in an effort to get the best out of each student.

    Photo Paul Larochelle/The Message For The Week One of them was 12-year-old Keith Levinson from Long Island, New York. Levinson attended the two-day camp and came away with a new respect for the laws of gravity and what it can do to you if you're not paying serious attention to the task at hand. Levinson, winner at a Northeast aerials competition at Ski Windham NY last season, was thrilled to have an opportunity to ski and learn from one of his ski heroes, Mike Nick. "It was actually a really cool experience to be skiing with a pro", said Levinson after being able to put a face to a name he'd known for years.

    Pam Cruickshank, Public Relations Director at Okemo where the camp is in its second year, explains the clinics have helped to enhance the vacation family experience at the resort for those looking for "more adventure and high flying action" and that although the camps are not part of the Okemo Ski School, they are thrilled to have a team like Egan's on hand to help the kids who venture into the terrain parks to "do it right".

    Of course there are plenty of other reasons to plan an Okemo visit. Their slogan, "Memories made here" is as true as it gets. SKI Magazine rates the skiing, grooming, the service, as well as the family programs among the highest in the ski industry with their GOLD rating. Women's Ski Spree and adult snowboard camps, or time spent at the resorts Nordic Center help round out an Okemo vacation for the older crowd. Okemo plans a large expansion for the 2002-03 season with the addition of Jackson Gore Peak and village center along with easy access to the Okemo Valley Golf Club, which makes it desirable as a four season resort as well.

    .......... Peter Michelson is a native New Yorker who learned to ski at Ski Plattekill, in upstate Roxbury, N.Y. back in 8th grade and has been doing so ever since. A 15-year member of the Eastern Ski Writers Association he's worked at CBS News for 18 years during which time has covered the U.S. Men's Pro Ski Tour and the U.S. Ski Team as well as auto racing, and the Olympics. He currently produces domestic breaking news stories at the Network News Service (NNS) for over 300 television stations around the country. He and his wife Michelle live in NYC with daughters Lauren, 5 and Jamie, 3. Michelle was told she skis like Tamara McKinney by Stein Eriksen; Lauren started skiing at the age of two and likes to hit the slopes with daddy on the warm sunny days; and Jamie makes her first tracks this season! The family that skis together stays together!!

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