NSCF-FXC Junior Development Team
Program Information (U12)

The NSCF-FXC Junior Development Team is the ski club’s introductory racing team for skiers who will compete in the U12 category and older during the coming winter season. (A U12 is a skier who has turned 10 on or before December 31 of that winter season – so for the 2017-18 training year that would be a skier born in 2007 or before).

Early registration deadline is April 27, 2017. Deadline for initial review of scholarship applications is April 30.

Program Options

  • Jr. Devo Year round: Includes all Jr. Devo seasonal programs.
  • Jr. Devo Summer: (Memorial Day to Start of School Year) The dryland program is not a ski-specific training program, but instead focuses on broader athletic development through the lens of a ski racing program. This includes developing good habits and enjoyment of physical activity as well as establishing a strong foundation of physical fitness and athleticism which an athlete can build on later in their athletic career. During the dryland season, training is held at the same time and location as the Prep Team, although the groups often split up for their training activities. Typically a little over half the practices start at the West Ridge Trails on the UAF Campus with the rest held at Birch Hill Recreation Area. There is a week break for the 4th of July holiday and a week break later in the month of July.
  • Jr. Devo Fall: (August – October) The substance of our Fall training is very similar to our summer program. Athletes can select from a variety of programs that best fit their needs. In August and September we encourage athletes to participate in their school running programs, so Jr. Devo athletes can select from participating one or two days per week. After a two-week training break in late September, the October program meets two days per week and often includes a transition to snow if conditions allow.
  • Jr. Devo Winter: (November – mid April) The Jr. Devo Team meets three times a week for training from early November to mid-April. Training typically takes place at Birch Hill, although practice is occasionally moved to other locations (and possibly times) for tours or just a change of scenery. Such changes will be announced in regular email updates. In the case of consistent cold weather, practices are sometimes shifted to an indoor facility such as the UAF Student Recreation Center (SRC).

Orientation

We organize two informational meetings for parents each year. One in May focused on summer and fall dryland activities, and one in November oriented towards winter activities. Contact us if you want to know when these meetings will happen.

New skiers are required to try the program for a week or 3 sessions when joining the program to see if it is a good fit. If payment is processed prior to this trial, a full refund is available.

Weather Guidelines

We train rain or shine throughout the dryland season, so proper clothing is imperative! In case of smoke from forest fires, we use the Borough’s air quality and particulate guidelines to help us decide on whether the local air quality is suitable for healthy activity. We do our best to make these announcements early, but the localized nature of smoke sometimes requires last minute decisions. We typically try to make announcements via email an hour or two before practice begins.

Attendance

It is no secret that consistency in any endeavor leads to improvement. However, we also understand that balance is important in life and other commitments like music, school, family, etc. will need to take priority over training at times. As such, the NSCF-FXC race teams do not have a required attendance policy.

Coaches

Training for the Junior Devo Team is run by a NSCF-FXC’s certified professional coaches with the support of a team of volunteer and intern coaches. Many of our interns are college athletes who enjoy the opportunity to pass on their passion for the ski training to a younger generation, while volunteers are often parents who have completed coaches training with the NSCF.

Expectations

  • Be on time.
  • Have a positive attitude – remember your positive attitude is contagious!
  • Be ready to put in the effort toward getting better.
  • Be willing to take feedback from coaches and your fellow skiers.
  • Skiers should be prepared for practice: this means having the proper equipment for the day’s activities, proper clothing for the weather, and taking care of nutrition by showing up at practice hydrated and fueled with a healthy snack ahead of time, plus a water bottle for during practice and a light, healthy snack for afterwards.

Dryland Equipment

Summer and Fall programs

  • Proper gear is essential for making practice fun and productive instead of frustrating. It doesn’t have to be new, but it must fit, and be in good working order.
  • Running Shoes: Everything we do during the summer requires good footwear. A good quality pair of simple lightweight running shoes (or trail running shoes) often does the trick. Make sure the shoes have adequate tread for activities on trails. To avoid blisters or other foot problems, be sure to wear-in the shoes during regular daily activities prior to wearing them for training.
  • Clothing: Skiers should come to practice with appropriate clothing for training for that day’s conditions. Loose fitting athletic clothing that allows for movement in a full range of motion is essential. Materials that wick perspiration and keep one warm while wet are essential in cooler or wetter weather. Gloves are recommended when the ground gets cold as we do a number of ground based activities in almost every session. Dress in multiple thin layers to be warm and shed layers as you get warmer during the session.
  • Dryland Poles: As part of the dryland program we introduce skiers to various forms of dryland ski imitation which use poles including ski bounding and ski walking. Dryland poles are the only necessary piece of equipment for this and are any pair of poles that comes up to roughly mid-chest height, although size can vary from the bottom of the sternum to armpit height and still work. Poles must have a good strap so the skier can release their grip on the pole, and an intact metal tip to dig into hard ground. Last season’s classic ski poles or a smaller sibling’s poles often do the job just fine.
  • Mountain Bike: We use mountain bikes as part of our summer program about once every week or two to add in athletic variety, and develop leg strength, endurance, balance and coordination. Each skier should have a mountain bike that is in good working order. We recommend purchasing your bike from a reputable bike shop in town such as Goldstream Sports, Beaver Sports, or Raven Cross Country (or a used one originating from one of those shops) as those bikes are typically assembled with greater knowledge and care and are built with components that are able to last through the rigors of trail riding. Be sure your bike is in good working order with shifting gears, functional brakes and tires that hold air well in advance of the first session so you can get a tune up if needed.
  • Helmet: Helmets are mandatory for all wheeled activities. No helmet, no participation (although we do have a couple of extras we can lend out in case an athlete forgets). Be sure your helmet fits properly – covering your forehead and fitting securely so it can’t be jarred loose in case of an accident. Check with a reputable bike shop if you need help here.
  • Water Bottle: It is hot in Fairbanks in the summer! Athletes should be sure to have a water bottle with them at each practice to maintain hydration through the session. Please note that this bottle does not replace but merely adds to good hydration and nutrition habits through the day particularly for those that spend the day outside.

Late Fall and Winter Programs

  • Proper gear is essential for making practice fun and productive instead of frustrating. It doesn’t have to be new, but it must fit, and skiers need both skate and classic gear to take advantage of all workouts.
  • Skis: Skiers should have both classic and skate skis. Skis should be in good condition and of a durable construction (kids race skis are usually of adequate durability, as are mid-range adult ‘racing skis). We advise holding off on purchasing top-of-the-line skis until the skier is fully capable of taking proper care of their equipment (and he or she has other skis available for playing games or thin snow conditions).
  • Skis should be properly waxed by the athlete and coach or parent for each day’s practice. Waxing advice will be posted on the team whiteboard prior to practice each day.
  • Boots: Skiers should use warm boots that allow for natural ankle movement. Bring both sets of boots (skate and classic) to each session. A good pair of combi boots may be passable, but for optimal ease in learning technique, two pairs is encouraged by the end of the Jr. Devo age.
  • Poles: Skiers might begin their time on the Jr. Devo Team with only one pair of poles that comes up to the shoulder, but by the end of their tenure they should be using separate classic and skate poles. Skate poles should come up to between the chin and lips, while classic poles should come up to the middle of the shoulder. Poles outside of this range – particularly poles that are too long for classic skiing – make it extremely difficult and frustrating to learn good technique.
  • Clothing: Skiers should come to practice with appropriate clothing for training in cold weather. This includes mittens, warm gloves or split mitts (aka lobster gloves), hats, ear muffs, neck warmers, buffs, balaclavas, or other means of covering the skiers face and head. Skiers should dress in layers which should include a synthetic or wool base layer, potentially an insulating mid-layer, as well as a wind-resistant outer layer. Depending on conditions, more clothes may be needed.

Racing

Summer and Fall

Fairbanks benefits from a great endurance sports community. With athletes at this age we encourage them to participate in a variety of sports as this builds their foundation of movement skills and enhances their athletic experience later in life. We encourage Jr. Devo athletes to get involved with various events and competitions that are happening in town to broaden their experience in sport. These events include various running races, bike events, canoe events and sometimes athletes choose to participate in summer sports such as soccer. The key is consistent and varied activity.

Winter

The NSCF’s junior racing programs view competition as an opportunity to apply the skills one learns during training, much like a test in school or a recital for a dance class or a concert for a music group. As such, skiers are strongly encouraged, but not required to take part in local races. We recognize that the actual results at this age have little bearing on the eventual ability of a skier, and try to keep the focus firmly on the application of skiing skills and racing tactics, and challenging ones abilities. We feel strongly that skiers should race age-appropriate distances as these allow a skier to ski at high speed for the entire distance (1-3 km for J4 and younger skiers). This allows the skier to reinforce good technical skills, instead of getting tired and developing sloppy habits. In Fairbanks, the Town Race Series, Turkey Day Relays, Besh Cups, and Interior Youth Championships all feature age-appropriate distances. Longer spring events such as the Tour of Anchorage and Sonot Kkaazoot should be viewed more as endurance challenges, and we encourage an emphasis on completing the distance, more than racing as hard and as fast as possible. At this level, we feel 5-15 races is a good number of competitions over the course of a season.

Special Events and Activities

In the past we have conducted monthly program-wide hikes on Saturdays during the summer. These hike happen in conjunction with our weekly over-distance workout with the Comp Team to allow the younger skiers to see what sort of training awaits them in future years. To ensure safety and provide adequate transportation, we ask parents to serve as drivers and leaders of the Jr. Devo and Prep Team athletes.

How Can Parents Help?

There are many ways a parent can help out. The most essential is getting kids to practice and picked up on time. Parents can also help a lot in providing an opportunity for “team building,” or help with one of our monthly program-wide hike in the summer (see above). Hosting a post-tour get together, or potluck/pasta feed are just a couple of ways to enhance the social side of Jr. Devo. There will be various tasks to help with during the season too, such as uniform sizing and distribution, helping with waxing before races and helping chaperone a tour. Stay tuned to emails from the Team Leader for announcements.

Cost and Refund Policy

Please see the 2018-2019 Devo-Prep Registration Form for up to date information on cost and refund policy.