Winter Activity Center to keep kids active

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  • A view down the mountain.

  • The slopes are ready for snow.

  • The main building is shown.

  • PHOTOS BY LAURIE GORDON The chairlift is shown.

A new ski facility will open with the mission of exposing kids to the wonders of winter sports and providing organizations already in place to better the health of children to with an outdoor winter exercise option.

Located at the former Hidden Valley Ski Area on Breakneck road in Vernon, the National Winter Activity Center is scheduled to have a soft opening on Jan. 2.

“The National Winter Sports Education Foundation (NWSEF) was looking to fund a ski program for kids, as the foundation’s primary focus is to help more youth gain access to winter activities," said Schone Malliett, chief executive officer of the National Winter Sports education Foundation. "Opportunistically, someone brought the Hidden Valley property to the attention of the NWSEF board in August of 2014, as it was about to be put up for auction. The property was considered based on, with the right infrastructure, support, leadership, and programming, whether it could deliver something consistent with the ideals of the NWSEF. NWAC is within 70 miles of a major metropolitan area and provides access to 2.5 million kids. Another benefit was that it had the pre-existing infrastructure, but since occupying the property the facility and its assets have been entirely renovated or are brand new.”

NWAC provides opportunities for programs to organizations that already are pursuing ways to improve the lives of its participating youth. The facility is only open to children particdipating through partner organizations. There are six trails that range from beginner, to intermediate, to competent, to competition. Cross-country skiing will be part of a plan for expansion in 2017.

The people behind creating the National Winter Activity Center are Dick Coe (Board Member of NVVAC), Ned Marini (also a Board Member of NWAC), Ted Ligety (Board Member, U.S. Ski Team, Olympian, World Champion) along with Malliet.

“National Winter Activity Center provides a one of a kind opportunity for youth who would typically not have the chance to experience winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding,” Malliet said. “Part of our goal is to help reverse the low retention rate in winter sports, while combatting childhood obesity and inspiring a lifelong habit of regular exercise during the winter months.”

In addition to helping organizations help kids get active, there also will be a competition component to The National Winter Activity Center. The competition portion is open to kids ranging from 8 to 18 years of age. Competitions can range from recreational, to interscholastic (high school/college), to organized (USSA — national governing body of the sport and/or FIS — worldwide governing body for winter sports).

As part of the New Jersey Ski Racing Association, the competition team travels to other mountains within the tristate area for competitions.

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