Grand Traverse Ski Club


Learn about GTSC education philosophy & programming standards.

Awesome video from the 2016 Winter Park U14 Jr. Championships:


The fundamental mechanics of SKIING, outlined below, remain consistent through all levels of Certification. The performance criteria for these fundamentals will vary based on the application to common beginner, intermediate, and advanced zone outcomes.

Skiing Fundamentals

  1. Control the relationship of the Center of Mass to the base of support to direct pressure along the length of the skis.
  2. Control pressure from ski to ski and direct pressure toward the outside ski.
  3. Control edge angles through a combination of inclination and angulation.
  4. Control the skis rotation (turning, pivoting, steering) with leg rotation, separate from the upper body.
  5. Regulate the magnitude of pressure created through ski/snow interaction.

The differentiating applications of fundamentals are defined by the following categories: environment, accuracy, and speed.

Environment: The appropriate terrain and snow conditions for level of assessment, relative to the skill development needs for students.

Accuracy: The degree of competence and constancy in application of fundamentals relative to desired ski performance.

Speed: The ability to ski in control at speeds necessary to achieve desired ski performance for the task or demonstration.

Source:  PSIA National Certification Standard, p. 6

by Jim Taylor, republished courtesy of

Over the many years that I’ve been working in the field of sport psychology, I have championed the benefits of mental training for our sport to thousands of ski racers. This work has ranged from talks to junior programs to ongoing consulting with individual athletes and teams.

As many of you know from my dozens of articles on this subject, I emphasize a practical approach that likens mental preparation to the physical conditioning and technical and tactical work that is also required for ski racing success. This focus stresses that, like the physical and on-snow aspects of our sport, the only way racers can benefit from mental training is when it is used in an organized and consistent way.

My work offers ski racers easy-to-understand and practical tools, such as mental imagery, breathing, routines, and keywords, that can be incorporated readily into every part of an overall training program.

These tools don’t seem like a very hard sell considering that when I ask racers how important the mind is compared to the physical and technical sides of our sport, the vast majority say that it is as or even more important. Given that so many of the racers I speak to or work with have big goals, it seems only natural that they would take my ideas to heart and incorporate them into their training regimen.

Yet, if I had to guess how many racers actually make mental training an integral part of their preparations, even after learning all about it from me, I would put the number at less than 10 percent (and I’m probably being generous here). The question I have been asking is: Why? I have concluded that there are five reasons that explain racers’ lack of investment of time and energy into the mental side of our sport.

1. They Don’t Think Mental Training Works

As much as I like to think that I make a convincing case for the value of mental training in ski racing, I’m going to assume that there are plenty of racers who just don’t think it matters that much. Rather, they believe that if they work on the physical and on-snow aspects of their ski racing, that will be enough to reach their goals.

One of the big challenges of persuading racers of the value of mental training is that, unlike the physical and technical aspects of our sport, the benefits aren’t tangible. If you want to see improvements in your strength, you can see how much weight you lifted before and after you begin a weight training program. If you want to see your technical progress, you can watch old and new video of yourself skiing. But, you can’t measure confidence, intensity, or focus directly and you can’t know that improvements in those areas translate into faster skiing.

You can’t be sure that mental training helps at all and, without clear proof, it’s difficult to commit the time and energy necessary to gain its benefits. Buying into mental training is a leap of faith you have to make on your own if you want it to be a part of your ski racing efforts.

2. They Don’t Care Enough

Talk, as they say, is cheap. It’s easy to say that you have big goals in your ski racing. It’s an entirely different thing to translate those goals into motivation and action. So, one reason why some racers don’t make mental training a part of their efforts is that, despite the lip service, they just don’t care enough to do the work necessary to develop themselves mentally.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this lack of motivation. If you don’t want to be the best ski racer you can be, that’s fine. Whether you achieve your ski racing goals or not, you will likely do just fine in life. And, I admit that it is possible you will develop the mental side of your ski racing just by chance or trial and error. But, as you know, chance or trial and error are not the best ways to develop any aspect of your ski racing.

3. It’s Not a Part of Your Usual Program

Another reason is that mental training is simply not a part of what most racers usually do in their training, so they just forget. I find this often occurs at the top of a training run. I will have, for example, described the importance of a training routine and how to implement one. But, minutes later, racers still just lean on their poles and chat it up with their friends before they get into the gate. Until mental skills become ingrained, they will usually slip your mind unless you focus on them constantly just like any technical skill.

4. Lack of Support by Coaches and Parents

It’s difficult for racers to make a commitment to mental training if they aren’t supported by their coaches and parents. Two reasons. First, racers base their judgments on the value of different aspects of ski racing partly on the messages they get from those around them. If their coaches and parents aren’t sending them messages of the importance of the mental side of ski racing, they’re not likely to buy into it themselves.

It is up to coaches and parents to send messages to their racers that say, “Mental training is really important,” by talking about it and making it a part of the team culture and family discussions, respectively.

Second, racers these days don’t have a lot of free time on their hands. Between school, physical conditioning, on-snow training, ski tuning, and video analysis, not to mention sleep, meals, and socializing, there just isn’t much time in which to slot mental training.

It’s the coaches’ responsibility to carve out time in their athletes’ daily schedules into which they can fit mental training such as goal setting and mental imagery. Coaches must also help mental training become a habit on-snow by including mental tools into their feedback and reminding their racers to use those mental tools in their training efforts and race preparations.

5. Mental Training is Weird

I’ll be honest; some of the things I ask racers to do in training and before races can seem pretty weird. For example, running around and jumping up and down to raise intensity, moving their bodies while doing mental imagery, and talking themselves into an aggressive mindset may appear a bit strange to onlookers.

And one thing I’ve learned over the years is that most young people don’t want to stand out (in an odd sort of way anyhow) because being accepted by their peers is one of their most important needs. Imagine this scenario. You’re at the start of a training course and all of your friends are goofing around and talking to each other. But I’ve asked you to not talk so you can focus, be very physically active in your warm-up, and to really move your body while doing mental imagery. Wouldn’t you feel a little self-conscious? And might you actually be reluctant to do that stuff, even if you know it will help you ski better?

But here’s my argument against that need to fit in. If you want to ski like everyone else, be like everyone else. The surest path to acceptance by your peers is to do what everyone else does. And the surest path to ski racing mediocrity is to do what everyone else does.

It has been my experience, both personally and professionally, that to be great at something, you have to be different than others and, yes, that sometimes means being weird or, at least, doing what others perceive as weird things. And it also means that you won’t necessarily be accepted by everyone. Do you think Bode Miller or Tina Maze or Ted Ligety or Julia Mancuso or Lindsey Vonn or Marcel Hirscher are normal people? Do you think they worry about being accepted? In both cases, no way! Be average (and normal) or be fast (and a little weird). The choice is yours.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, just like with other aspects of your ski racing, you have to decide how important the mind is to achieving your goals. If you truly believe that it is essential to your ski racing success, then you must do what is necessary to weave mental training into the very fabric of your ski racing efforts.  You want to get to the point where it is simply what you do to be the best ski racer you can be, just like physical conditioning, ski tuning, and on-snow training. So, when you’re skiing fast, other racers may see you as weird, but they will want to know what your secret is and be weird (and fast) like you. But don’t tell them.




Original Article Source:

by Jim Taylor, republished courtesy of

Please be prepared – I’m going to go on a bit of rant now. I just can’t hold it in any longer. I see parents doing this constantly and it’s killing me because they know not what they do and they are actually hurting their children’s personal and ski racing development.

What am I referring to? It’s praise, that’s what I’m talking about. Now I know what that you’re wondering: What? Praise is bad? I can’t praise my children? This I have to hear.

OK, here goes. What is the most common praise you hear parents (and coaches) giving young racers in training and at races? “Good job!” Good job (and other variants such as Way to go, Nice job, and That’s great) have become knee-jerk reactions from parents whenever their kids do something worthy of acknowledgment. If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I would be a wealthy man today.

What’s the problem with saying good job? Well, it’s lazy praise, it’s worthless praise, it’s harmful praise. It has no value to children, yet parents have been brainwashed into thinking that it will build their children’s self-esteem and confidence. Plus, it’s the easy and expedient thing to say.

Let’s start with the purpose of praise which to encourage children to repeat a behavior that produces positive outcomes. Now you can start to see the problems with saying good job. First, it lacks specificity. It doesn’t tell young racers what precisely they did well and without that information they can’t know exactly what they should do in the future to get the same outcome. Second, good job focuses on the outcome rather than the process. If you’re going to be lazy with your praise, at least say, “Good effort!” because it focuses them on what they did to do a good job.

Unfortunately, many parents have been misled by the self-esteem movement, which has told them that the way to build their children’s self-esteem is to tell them how good they are. Unfortunately, trying to convince your children of their competence will likely fail because ski racing (and life in general) has a way of telling them unequivocally how capable or incapable they really are through success and failure in training and racing.

The reality is that children don’t need to be told “Good job!” when they have skied well; it’s self-evident. They do need to be told why they did well so they can replicate that behavior in the future to get the same positive outcome.

Research has shown that how you praise your children has a powerful influence on their development. The Columbia University researchers Claudia Mueller and Carol Dweckfound that children who were praised for their intelligence (or, in the case of ski racing, their natural ability), as compared to their effort became overly focused on results. Following a failure, these same children persisted less, showed less enjoyment, attributed their failure to a lack of ability (which they believed they could not change), and performed poorly in future achievement efforts. Says Dweck: “Praising children for intelligence [or talent] makes them fear difficulty because they begin to equate failure with stupidity [or lack of talent].”

Too much praise of any sort can also be unhealthy. Research has found that students who were lavished with praise were more cautious in their responses to questions, had less confidence in their answers, were less persistent in difficult assignments, and less willing to share their ideas.

Children develop a sense of competence by seeing the consequences of their actions, not by being told about the consequences of their actions. The researchers Mueller and Dweck found that children who were praised for their effort showed more interest in learning, demonstrated greater persistence and more enjoyment, attributed their failure to lack of effort (which they believed they could change), and performed well in subsequent achievement activities. Rewarding effort also encouraged them to work harder and to seek new challenges. Adds the Clark University researcher Wendy Grolnick: “Parental encouragement of learning strategies helps children build a sense of personal responsibility for—and control over—their academic careers.” The value of this research to ski racing is, I think, pretty clear.

Based on these findings, you should avoid praising your children for their inborn talent (“You are such a gifted ski racer”) because they have no control over the genetic ability that you gave them. You should direct your praise to areas over which they have control – effort, attitude, responsibility, commitment, discipline, focus, emotional mastery, fitness, technique, equipment preparation, the list goes on. You should look at why exactly your children did ski well and specifically praise those areas. For example, “You worked so hard preparing for this week’s race,” “You were so focused during the entire race run,” or “You kept fighting after that mistake.”

Here’s a risky move – don’t praise your young racers at all. The best thing you can do is simply highlight what they did. For example, if your racer just skied a tough part of a course really well, just say, “You really nailed that section.” Their smile of pride will tell you that they got the message you wanted them to get, namely, “I did it!” Nothing more needs to be said.

As another alternative to praise, just ask your children questions. You can find out what they thought and felt about their race, for example, “What did you enjoy most about the day?” and “What did you do really well today?” Allow your children to decide for themselves how they feel about their accomplishments, enable them to reward themselves for their good skiing, and encourage them to internalize what they observed about their own achievement efforts.

Or really go out on a limb and don’t say anything at all to your children. As I just mentioned, kids know when they ski well. By letting them come to this realization on their own, they learn to reinforce themselves and they don’t become praise junkies dependent on you for how they feel about their efforts and accomplishments. After a race, the first thing you can say to them is, “What do you want to eat?” If they want to talk to you about the race, they’ll let you know.

Here is my challenge to you. First, the next time you’re at a race, take note of what parents say to their children. I’ll bet you hear “Good job!” (or some variation) constantly. Next, monitor what you say to your children in the same situations. Then, erase “Good job!” from your vocabulary. We’ve already established how useless it is. Finally, start to praise your children in the healthy ways I just described. When you have broken yourself of the “Good job!” habit, you can then pat yourself on the back and tell yourself, “Good job!”



Jim Taylor, Ph.D., competed internationally while skiing for Burke Mountain Academy, Middlebury College, and the University of Colorado. Over the last 30 years, he has worked with the U.S. and Japanese Ski Teams, many World Cup and Olympic racers, and most of the leading junior race programs in the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of Prime Ski Racing: Triumph of the Racer’s Mind. To learn more or to contact Jim, visit


by Megan Harrod,, 10-20-2015


Bryca Bennett

U.S. SKI TEAM: In your words, what makes a champion?
BRYCE BENNETT: Champion defined: A person who has defeated all opponents in a competition or series of competitions, as to hold first place.

Think about it for a second: You put just the right amount of effort towards achieving a final destination to be better than everyone. Cool, congratulations. You won a medal. Here’s your cookie. High five. Do you feel good about yourself now?

I envision a “champion” more like a master craftsman. A craftsman gets a great deal of satisfaction from building his product. He works tirelessly, figuring out ways to make his products more effective, how to make them more efficiently, while never overlooking the even then tiniest of details. He’s never focused on the end result; he’s always present and in the moment. He learns himself and his craft at the same time while gaining knowledge, wisdom and honing his skills to overcome any problem that may arise. He thinks outside the box and problem solves for himself. He’ll take criticism with a positive attitude. He’s never scared to fail, because failure is a chance to learn, grow and become better at his craft. That is a “champion” to me. Find your inner master boat builder.

U.S. SKI TEAM: Do you remember the first time you felt like a champion?
BB: I’m not a champion, nor have I ever felt like one. I am a ski racer; the habits I create for myself today will take care of any external results. Results are a byproduct of the work you do; I just enjoy the work more than the results.

U.S. SKI TEAM: What is the biggest piece of advice you have for aspiring kids who want to be sitting where you are today?
BB: Find your own path.


At 6’7”, Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, CA) towers over his competition. In fact, he’s the tallest guy on the circuit, and looks a little bit like a yeti when charging down mountains at 90 mph. But don’t let that height fool you—he’snot good at basketball (self-proclaimed) and he is a gentle giant with a great attitude, a strong sense of fearlessness and serious love for the sport.

Throwing your body down a gnarly track in crazy wind at a Chile training camp is no problem for Bennett. In fact, he’s one of the few American Downhillers that ran the downhill track from top to bottom in a recent training session at Corralco on a windy day. Head Men’s Coach Sasha Rearick is constantly impressed with Bennett’s will to learn and charge. “Bennett was one of the only guys who wanted to ski the downhill track from the top the other day at Corralco,” Rearick commented. “I like his courage and I like his focus.” With this unconventional approach, it’s no surprise Bennett calls out Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) as one of his role models. He digs that Bode style.

The best advice Bennett has encountered in his career is to listen—pay attention to details and figure things out for himself. It’s about intrinsic motivation for the big guy. “If you were dropped off in the middle of the woods with nothing,” questions Bennett, “would you wait for coach to save you, or would you do something about your situation?” At 23, Bennett might be young, but he knows when to step back and put it all into perspective—and laugh a little bit.

When Bennett is looking for motivation, he looks deep within himself. “I try and step away from the current situation and ask myself deep questions about what my goals are, and why I’m here,” he says. “I also find some appreciation for everything I have in my life.”

If you’re wondering whether Bennett was born this way or if it was a product of his environment, it’s both. His mom and dad both worked in the Squaw Valley parking lot—guiding cars into “perfect parking spots,” which is where they met and fell in love. His mother worked for Alpine before moving over to Powder Corp. for 30 years managing the books. His father went to work construction. That hard work ethic trickled down to Bennett. He also credits his coach, Konrad Richenback, for teaching him a thing or two. Or, as Bennett says, “He saved me from myself. He brought me to a point where I believed in myself to become a better person.”

What is most intriguing about this gigantic yeti is his philosophy on the sport itself. “I feel my journey is a bit different than most: I’m not in this sport with the end goal to win World Cup medals or globes or Olympic medals. I’m in this sport because it’s incredibly challenging with numerous variables to master, with little to no support from others to help you put down fast skiing,” Bennett notes. “No one truly understands every aspect of this sport. That’s what drives me—to understand the ins and outs through self mastery and trial and error, and one day inspire kids to go after fulfillment and passion in their work, instead of just doing whatever it takes to get to the top.”

Catch Bennett on his Instagram this season. If you do, you’ll learn things you never could have dreamed up…like that his spirit animal is a giraffe. “A giraffe’s coffee would be cold by the time it reached the bottom of its throat,” concludes Bennett. “Have you ever thought about that?” There’s never a dull moment when the yeti is on the hill.


The Grand Traverse Ski Club has received many donations  in the honor and memory of Clair Henri Bergevin.  Claire and the Nixon family played a large role in the Traverse City ski community and we wanted to share obituary with our members.


TRAVERSE CITY — Claire Henri Bergevin Nixon, 90, skied off into the sunset to meet her creator Saturday Aug. 23, 2014. Claire was born July 15, 1924, in Bay City, the fourth of five children, to George H. and Emma A. (Brysselbout) Bergevin.

Named after her maternal grandmother, her Mama Claire, she was 5 when her father, then vice president of the Detroit and Mackinac Railway, moved the family to East Tawas to open new offices there. She then began first grade at St. Joseph’s Catholic School and graduated valedictorian at 16. After taking a year off to travel she attended Marygrove College in Detroit, graduated in 1946, with a degree in social work and acquired a job at Catholic Charities of Detroit.

Growing up on the shores of East Tawas Claire loved the water and at an early age learned to swim, sail and ice sail with her three older brothers on Tawas Bay. At age 8 she learned to snow ski at Silver Valley Ski Area, beginning her lifelong love affair with the sport.


In January of 1948 she and her cousin, Jackie, took the train to Sun Valley, Idaho, to ski the Rockies, where she met and skied with Gary Cooper, the film star.

Claire married the love of her life, Donald D. Nixon, on April 23, 1949, at St. Joseph’s Church in Bay City. They moved to Traverse City, Don’s hometown, and soon afterward built a house on Boughey Hill, where they raised their four children and lived all these years.

They were members of Immaculate Conception and St. Francis parishes. Claire’s strong Catholic faith was evident in the way she lived her life.

She was involved in Civic Players, the Child Guidance Center and the National Cherry Festival for years. She was president of the PTA at Immaculate Conception school. She was a member of the Traverse City Golf & Country Club and the Grand Traverse Ski Club, where she was one of its earliest members. Before Hickory Hills opened she skied on the hill across from Meijer. Claire started the first ski swap in TC that still exists today. In the late ‘70s she also worked at the Tampico shop at Logans Landing and for several years for the Bahnhof Ski Shop in Traverse City.

Ever athletic, Claire learned to slalom waterski in her 40s and skied every summer well into her 80s. In her later years she enjoyed snow skiing with the “silver haired ladies” every week at Boyne Mountain and also volunteered, for years, at the Civic Center pool with the MS group.

Claire inherited her love of talking. She was fun, energetic, and had a way of bringing out the best in people, and they loved her for it. People were drawn to her and she would never let them go, which accounts for her many close friends and admirers.


Claire Nixon

The Hickory Hills Ski Patrol received a gracious donation of a 1996 Artic Cat Pantera. The near perfect condition snowmobile was donated by Jim Sorbie from Empire Michigan and comes a critical time for the ski patrol. The Ski Patrol at Hickory Hills is scheduled to begin services this Friday, December 20th, and as a volunteer run organization the new used snowmobile will help the team to maintain safe trails from front to back.

Thanks Jim Sorbie for your generous donation!

Please remember to add our Google Calendar to your phone/computer.  The calendar will always have the latest up-to-date program information, including and time changes or cancelations.

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Traverse City, November 22, 2013– Grand Traverse Ophthalmology Clinic hosted its annual Fall Trunk Show on Thursday, October 24, 2013

This year, participants enjoyed tables overflowing with fashionable frames from top designers. Discounts of 20% and more were offered on complete pairs of glasses ordered during the always-popular event.

This event raised $3,150 dollars from the proceeds of the trunk show, which will benefit local nonprofits; Traverse Health Clinic – CHAP, Special Olympics and Hickory Hills – Grand Traverse Ski Club. “We are delighted to be able to give back to the community by supporting these wonderful charities and to bring to the forefront the services of these organizations who help those in need in our area,” states GTOC’s Matthew Madion, M.D.

Checks were presented to each of the charitable organizations on Wednesday, November 20th. Each of the organizations received $1,050.


For more information, call Grand Traverse Ophthalmology Clinic, 929 Business Park Drive, Traverse City at 231.947.6246 or 800.968.6612, or visit


GTOC Grand Traverse Ski Club Donation

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