Kids Can Learn How to Cross Country Ski for FREE!

Last spring, Jeff Blumenthal, with partnership from the Thunder Bay Trails Association, applied for a grant from the Alpena County Youth and Recreation fund to form a Youth Cross Country Ski Club. The intent of the ski club was to provide access to cross country ski equipment and free instruction for Alpena County kids ages K-12th grade. The grant requesting $5500 to cover the cost of cross country ski rental equipment for 40 kids over six Sundays this winter was well received and approved by the Alpena County Youth and Recreation committee. The cross country ski rental equipment will be provided by Harborside Cycle and Sport of Alpena.

The idea to start a cross country ski club came from Jeff Blumenthal’s extensive background as a competitive cross country skier as a junior and while in college. Jeff grew up skiing and racing all over the country. In recent travels to various cross country ski races, Jeff noted the lack of young skiers participating in the sport. Jeff stated, “I grew up playing in the snow and being outside all the time and now it seems kids are more interested in being indoors and using electronics. I want to pass on my love of the sport and provide an opportunity for kids to be active outside in the winter.” Unfortunately, many adults and kids are not as familiar with the sport as it has been some time since Alpena has had a sporting goods store that carried cross country ski equipment. One of the objectives of the grant was to expose a new generation of kids to cross country skiing. Cross Country Skiing can serve as a gateway to other outdoor silent sports such as hiking, mountain biking, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, and rock climbing.

The registration form for the Youth Cross Country Ski Club can be found on the Thunder Bay Trails Association’s website and Facebook page. The registration deadline is January 13, 2017 and the first date of instruction begins Sunday, January 22 and continues for six weeks until February 26. Kids will meet at 2 pm at the Alpena APlex on Woodward Avenue. Parents are welcome to join in the fun and learn how to ski as well. Equipment will be distributed on site by Harborside Cycle and Sport and volunteers. Instruction will be provided by veteran adult cross country skiers on groomed trails located behind the APlex. The final Sunday (February 26th) will feature a fun race for the kids. If you are interested in learning more about the Youth Cross Country Ski Club, would like to volunteer, or have kids that would like to join the club, please contact Jeff Blumenthal (, 989-471-5457). You may also contact Harborside Cycle and Sport for more information (989-354-4999). See you out on the trails!