Skiers embark on exchange program |
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Skiers embark on exchange program

— Alpine ski racing is about hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

This summer, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes Robyn Dye, Ian Landy and Andy White will learn that first-hand when they sacrifice a big part of their summer to go skiing in Argentina.

“I’m going to miss hanging out with my friends and the other summer stuff, but this is too good an opportunity to turn down,” Landy said.

The opportunity to spend six weeks in Bariloche, Argentina, will mean leaving summer conditions in Steamboat on June 28, and spending the next four weeks living with an exchange family, and another two weeks training with their teammates, in Bariloche in the middle of winter.

“It should be interesting,” Landy said. “I’m hoping to improve my Spanish.”

But the language and weather will not be the only differences greeting the teenagers from Steamboat Springs when they arrive.

They will need to adjust to new families, new friends and a totally different culture.

“I’m pretty excited about the chance to experience a new culture,” White said.

White said when Chris Puckett, the competitive alpine director for the Winter Sports Club, first asked him if he wanted to make the trip, he had to think about it.

Then he decided it was a golden opportunity to improve his skiing and the extra time on snow was worth giving up his normal summer routine.

“When I first announced this opportunity, I had 20 kids express interest,” Puckett said. “But when the kids realized what they were going to have to give up, that number dwindled to these three very dedicated kids.”

While all three skiers are looking forward to gaining an edge, they also are excited about experiencing life in a place far removed from Steamboat Springs.

“It will be fun to be in a bigger city and to see if skiing is as big a part of their heritage as it is to ours.”

Puckett hopes the program will be successful and will foster a relationship that benefits both mountain communities.

“I hope our kids have a lot of fun and come back with stories that will inspire other skiers in our club to want to do this,” Puckett said.

This winter, several Steamboat families will host members of the ski club in Bariloche as part of the exchange. If it’s successful, it could become a regular part of the Winter Sports Club’s summer schedule.

This year’s plan calls for Dye, Landy and White to spend the first four weeks of their trip skiing and training in Bariloche. The skiers then will join their teammates for a Winter Sports Club camp the final two weeks of their stay.

“As a program director, I’m just happy that I can offer this type of program to our athletes,” Puckett said.

— To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail