Olympic-Style Ski Camp At HV

By Jennie Acklin

At Holiday Valley, ski racers are mentored and coached by a caring group of dedicated coaches, but a handful who make the elite Gold Team get a special chance to take it to the next level.

Miguel Azcarate, a former professional ski racer for Spain and Gold Team chairperson, provides this group of top Western New York athletes an Olympic-style ski camp with specialized training through the Niagara Frontier Ski Council (NFSC), which is composed of Holiday Valley, HoliMont, Kissing Bridge, Peak n’ Peak, Buffalo Ski Club and Ski Denton. The program has seen great success by establishing standards and providing cooperative training opportunities for the area’s top level ski competitors at all levels from U12s–U18s.

The NFSC Gold Team is a reward, of sorts, for the racers’ outstanding race results from the prior ski season. To qualify, athletes from member ski areas must submit an essay to be considered for the Gold Team and each area’s coach must make a personal recommendation.

Once these young skiers qualify for the elite Gold Team, they are invited to a pre-season training camp taught by Azcarate, who is also the Training Center director at Holiday Valley. Azcarate has held the director position at HV for the past 17 years.

From Dec. 19–22 at Holiday Valley, more than 40 teammates eat, sleep, work out and, of course, ski together. A professional strength training workout is part of the schedule, as well as video analysis of their racing runs of the day. The group also discusses proper nutrition during breakfast, lunch and dinner. These young skiers attend ski camp regardless of weather or snow conditions — after all, they must train for all kinds of WNY weather conditions!

Azcarate treats these athletes to lodging at the Inn at Holiday Valley, provides a custom uniform for the season and dinner each evening (and we’re not talking fast food or junk food).

The money to fund this program comes from one primary fundraising event with sponsors Shults Auto Group of Jamestown, Rossignol Ski Company and Mud Sweat n’ Gears, Azcarate’s and his wife Kim Reading’s successful ski shop in Ellicottville. Additional funds come from race entry fees.

Anyone interested in supporting the Gold Team, or other HV Training Center teams, is encouraged to contact Miguel Azcarate by email at mud33@verizon.net. We hope you will consider donating to such a great group.

The grand prize of the fundraising event is a car, which can be won only through the purchase of raffle tickets sold from December through March. The proceeds of raffle ticket sales also become the primary financial support of the Holiday Valley Training Center teams, including freestyle, snowboard, racing, as well as the Gold Team. The raffle drawing is usually held during the Pond Skimming event in March at Holiday Valley.

Ski racing is a sport that is held near and dear to the heart of the Ellicottville Times, and we are excited to follow the young racers every week. Check back here every week for race results, photos and racer profiles during the season. We encourage photo submissions — send yours to Jennie@EllicottvilleTimes.com.