Fun on and off the ice

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— Through the Rocky Moun--tain Hockey School, instructor Bryan Smith may have discovered the best way to tire out a 9-year-old.

For the past week, 55 campers from throughout the country, including Steam----boat Spr--ings, spent more than 12 hours a day playing hockey and enjoying the outdoors during the first Rocky Mountain Adventure Hockey Camp.

"The morning is when we are the latest getting on the ice because everyone is so tired," Teddy Gorman, 9, said.

The campers -- a mix of resident campers, hockey-and-adventure campers and hockey-only campers -- began their day at 7 a.m. with breakfast. The skaters were on the Howelsen Ice Arena sheet for 3 1/2 hours. There was 60 minutes of dry-land training, followed by lunch, four hours of outdoor education, dinner and more ice time. The nights finished with a 30-minute "chalk talk."

On Saturday, the campers played games to finish off the week.

RMHS has been holding camps in Steamboat for five years, but this was the first year for a hockey-adventure camp combination. The adventure component all--owed campers to spend their after--noons do--ing act--ivities such as

rock climb--ing, kayaking and moun--tain biking.

"This is a hockey camp first," Smith said. "We wanted to make it out--door-adventure, but educational, as well."

The packed Steamboat sched----ule didn't stop Teddy from attending a RMHS power-skating and stick-handling camp in Missoula, Mont., from June 19 to 23.

"I really like the coaches most of all," said Teddy, who is from Ithaca, N.Y. "Most of the drills they've shown me, I've never seen before in my life."

The instructors for the RMHS camps come from throughout the country and include two college coaches, Smith said. The combination of on-ice training and experienced coaching is appealing to hockey players.

"We get kids from all over the world because they are in world-class resorts like Steamboat," Smith said. "What I think is neat about this is it gets the local kids to come out and work with kids from throughout the U.S.

"We have the perfect opportunity to turn this into a two-week program. We are going to team up with Triple Crown and Steamboat Soccer Academy and market it that way."

Baseball, soccer and hockey, oh my.

Aaron Herzog, Jack McNam----ara and Quinn Cain didn't get the experience of living in the Colorado Mountain College dorms during the week because they live in Steamboat, but they did get to play "ball hockey."

The on-ice game uses tennis balls instead of pucks, which forces players to be adept at handing their sticks because tennis balls are smaller, bounce harder and higher and are round.

Each said they have made a friend from somewhere outside Steamboat this week, and all have gotten better at hockey.

"I guess I would call it a pleasure to go hang out with the kids," Smith said.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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