PARK CITY, UT (July 31) - One of the top cross country ski racing clubs in America is moving into adaptive sports. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's Central Cross Country Ski Association (CXC) was awarded a grant from the 2009 Olympic Opportunity Fund designed to financially assist sports organizations. It will be used to aid their new adaptive cross country skiing program.
Based in Madison, WI, CXC was one of a number of Paralympic Sports Clubs and USOC Paralympic member organizations throughout the country included in the Olympic Opportunity Fund program this year. In recent years CXC has risen to be a leader in developing cross country programs in the Midwest.
"The program, although still in its infancy, is groundbreaking for the sport. CXC is already a prevalent association in its area with a large member base. This is a great opportunity to identify and recruit new athletes to the sport and put them into the development pipeline," U.S. Adaptive Program Director Sandy Metzger said.
The idea to fund adaptive cross country was born five years ago when CXC Executive and Athletic Director Yuriy Gusev wondered why there was no adaptive program for cross country skiing in the Central division. Working with U.S. Adaptive Cross Country Development Coach John Kreamelmeyer, Gusev began developing a program. Sharing the U.S. Team's resources like sport science, education, and development programs, Gusev created an adaptive component to an already renowned CXC.
Metzer sees the development of CXC's adaptive cross country program as a new approach to starting similar elements at other clubs and organizations.
"Instead of asking adaptive programs to start a cross country component, trying to encourage able-bodied cross country clubs to include an adaptive component will be another technique to increasing the participation in adaptive cross country skiing," Metzger said.
Thanks to the grant, CXC is partnering with regional clubs and ski areas to provide adjustable sit skis for rental to anyone interested in the sport. CXC will also bring educational components about the sport as well as course-making to its partners. Gusev said that providing a recreational element as well as a competitive one will allow the public to experiment with the sport and participate in events.
Kreamelmeyer hopes that the exposure of the sport will help keep adaptive cross country alive and believes that word-of-mouth is one of the biggest advocates of the discipline.
"Adaptive is a visionary division in USSA, totally committed to excellence," he said. "So far the sport's development has been beyond belief and to see it continue to grow puts a smile on my face."
CXC's grant will hopefully provide the resources needed to draw a member base to this program to encourage its advancement in the future.