EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – The official start to winter is only a few days away. Now that it’s time to break out the coats and snow pants, that also means it’s time to break out the ski gear.
Eau Claire’s Flying Eagle Ski Club hosted their annual event that exposes younger generations to the art of skiing.
For the 15th time, the club hosted their free Learn to Ski day for kids.
“It’s just getting exposure to the sport, getting out in the winter elements, it gets cold out, you know we got a light dusting of snow today,” Flying Eagles head coach Nick Mattoon said. “So, you know, it is pretty chilly, but there are fun things to do in the winter and Eau Claire has the facilities to provide that for the youth.”
Mattoon says kids of all ages come out to give the cold sport a try.
“I think the youngest kid that I’ve coached here was 3, you know, and I’ve coached all the way up until 16, 17,” Mattoon said. “You know, people that have just never skied before and they just want to get on a pair of skis.”
Kids that came out learned the basics of skiing like outing their boots on, getting onto the skis, and how to stop and go with positions like the french fries and pizza.
“It’s not just going out there and being an athlete and skiing, you build your confidence, you teach kids how to get through situations that are a little scary, a little tough and you build them up so it’s really fun,” Mattoon said.
Club member Paul Loomis has two sons that were Flying Eagles who went on to be pros.
Loomis says the learn to ski event is one of his favorite days out of the year and it’s a chance to give back to the community.
“It’s partially a recruiting effort but it’s also just a really wonderful opportunity to expose them to a lifelong outdoor sport, get them off their screens, and get them out outdoors enjoying the beautiful Wisconsin Winter,” Loomis said.
Mattoon says some will go on to join the club to pursue a higher goal, while others may just enjoy the thrill of gliding down the powder.
“I mean we’re a huge feeder program here in Eau Claire for the US Ski Team,” Mattoon said. “So, you can also have fun, you can come out here and just go down the hill, you know, it’s meant to be a good time.”
Mattoon says about 10 kids typically join the Flying Eagles Ski Club after the learn to ski day.
Owning ski gear isn’t a requirement to join since the club has equipment available to rent.
The Flying Eagles Club is also gearing up for their 136th Silver Mine Invitational in January.