There is plenty of gold in the Rockies, but golden words can provide more nuggets of value than the valuable metal. A visionary coach like Cheyenne Mountain High School’s Stan Lambros, Boys Cross-Country 2010 Coach of the Year, has the broad look to understand the development of his young Colorado athletes. For example, he implemented track meets after dark, an idea he picked up from an eastern state.
Universities, high schools and elementary schools throughout the country can employ his experience with snowshoeing. And why not? The gold medal results speak for themselves.
Here are his views on the value of snowshoe racing, cross-country racing, and the Olympics along with one of his athletes, 2011 USSSA Junior National Champion, Mitch Kasyon. Plus I introduce one of Colorado’s best snowshoe cheerleaders mothering the sport, Lisa Kasyon.
First, coach Lambros explained, “It is often said that cross-country running is a sport that happens in the summer, but plays out in the fall. That references the necessary training required pre-season to build up to a good fall cross-country season. So with that in mind, we decided to consider the same concept with track. The preseason for track is winter. Now, winter can get cold, gloomy, and sometime hits one’s motivation. Without a formal indoor season in Colorado, we decided to add a few events that kids could not really measure themselves on . . . snowshoe racing.
This promoted the lifestyle of training in the winter and having some fun. What resulted was our young athlete’s winter training groups grew in numbers over both the summer and winter. We added a non-competitive snowshoe trip to Leadville. That outing required a six-mile in and six-mile out snowshoe in some deep snow and in a little bit of a storm.
The experience ranks among my best experiences with a high school team and built better team relations.
With respect to the snowshoe training, we actually just did our typical off-season buildup with running and then added the snowshoe races to our schedule. The group looked forward to the event, as our team does not race much. We believe in training more than racing, so the event pumped them up. A few said it was very humbling and very hard the first year we did it, but I think the conditions were pretty tough that day. All in all, if the state of Colorado gave me a choice, I would add snowshoe racing as a sanctioned sport for high school kids as it is equally as legit as any other high school sport and like cross-country, it does not require much money . . . just fit people. It has helped our team during a potentially flat time of training. I think the sport of snowshoe racing should be in high schools and in the Olympics.” USSSA Sports Director, Mark Elmore, leading the Olympic effort, appreciates all support for the long process necessary.
One of Colorado’s best proponents of snowshoeing for Junior-aged athletes (as measured by the USSSA) is Lisa Kasyon, mother of 2011 USSSA National Junior Champion, Mitch Kasyon. She added, “The track title was particularly impressive because, with the exception of one high jumper and a soccer player, the track meet was won entirely with cross-country runners, a feat most people believed could not happen.”
Check this list to recognize their Colorado achievements for 2010 – 2011 performances:
- Snowshoe Team State Champions
- Snowshoe Individual State and National Champion
- Boys and Girls Cross Country State Champions
- Boys Track State Champions
Additionally, she pointed out, “Also, there were others on the team who really enjoyed and benefited from the snowshoe racing experience especially Jake Fox who competed in the state snowshoe race the last two years and made the 4A All-State track team this spring after placing high in four events at state this year. The majority of the runners, including the soccer player, competed in the Colorado State Snowshoe Championships both of the last two years. Mitch—my son—traveled to Cable, Wisconsin for the 2011 USSSA National Snowshoe Championships where he earned the Junior Men’s title. Mitch is excited about snowshoeing; he hopes to start a club program at the University of Colorado in Boulder.”
Mitch Kasyon showed he was more than able at Cable. He gave insight for the high school team’s attitude on this winter sport: “Snowshoeing was a great way for the Cheyenne Mountain track and cross-country team to liven up our training during the winter. Almost all of the guys who were year-round runners for the team agreed that it was toughest to find motivation for training in winter out of any other time in the year, and in late 2009 coach Lambros suggested that we race at the 2010 Colorado State Snowshoe Championships. It sounded like a lot of fun, so I joined up with my fellow teammates Jake Fox, Postyn Smith, Ludovic Funfrock, Gabe Casias, Dani Grossman, and Chuck Zulanas who were also looking for inspiration for training during winter.
The race turned out to be an awesome experience, and snowshoeing gave us much needed motivation to keep training hard for track and cross-country. The next year we returned to the race again with a slightly different team of Eric Dawson, Ben Fox, Adam Doyle, Jake Fox, Dani Grossman, and Adam Pring for the same reasons.
Now I’d say snowshoeing has now become an essential aspect of winter training for the runners at Cheyenne Mountain. Snowshoeing translates to running almost perfectly, so it is clearly a great way for runners to get out and enjoy the winter months. Our team recognized this and decided to implement it to our advantage.”
The 2012 DION Snowshoes USSSA National Snowshoe Championships are coming to Colorado in the resort town of Frisco on February 24-26. You can bet a strong representation of racers will be there from Cheyenne’s schools. Ms. Kasyon exhibits the friendly, open attitude in Colorado when she said, “Let’s keep the snowshoe momentum going. We’d love to see everyone out here for the 2012 Snowshoe Nationals.”
As the old Hawaii 5-0 line went, “Book it, Dan-O.” We’re on our Frisco way.
USSSA National Snowshoe Championships: www.snowshoeracing.com
Dion Snowshoes: www.dionsnowshoes.com
Phillip’s author’s page: www.amzn.to/hLfjP9
Courtesy Colorado Track XC www.milesplit.com Samantha Lewis and Mitch Kasyan
Courtesy Gazette Preps.com www.gazettepreps.com Coach Stan Lambros