Accessible outdoor recreation, the value of sport and competition, education and a love of the outdoors among local youth — these are the goals of Cloud City Mountain Sports, a local nonprofit organization created to support young athletes in and around Lake County.
As an athletic organization, the project is not a new endeavor but instead builds on what was started by locals more than 30 years ago, Cloud City Mountain Sports President Ben Cairns told the Herald.
In 1988, Leadville local Jeff Maddex formed the Cloud City Ski Team, which eventually led to the creation of Leadville Nordic. The two disciplines, Alpine and Nordic, were represented under these organizations, both of which sought to provide affordable instruction and equipment to local kids, Cairns said.
Today, Cloud City Mountain Sports (CCMS) has combined the two competitive styles under its recently formed nonprofit organization with the goal of increasing youth access to competitive outdoor sports.
“We think ski racing is great for kids and we love the life long learning and development that comes from racing on our skis,” Cairns said.
Since its formation, the group has helped to organize, time and officiate races for Lake County School District’s Alpine and Nordic ski teams at the middle and high school levels, and represents the area’s Youth Ski League and local competitors in International Freeskier Association events.
Through its work, CCMS has developed a close working relationship with Lake County School District and Ski Cooper, facilitating the Nordic and Alpine races for each.
In addition to race support, CCMS acts as a coaching resource for Leadville’s young competitive skiers, using Dutch Henry Tubing Hill as a training course.
While the work undertaken by the organization is not new, the blending of the two teams marks a new model — one that CCMS hopes will grow in the coming years.
The organization plans to expand its work to incorporate snowboarding programs in the years to come, and may grow to include mountain biking events, Cairns said.
CCMS also hopes to further develop Dutch Henry, where the group’s athletes currently train, as an improved training ground for local teams.
The organization itself is also anticipating growth. Currently, the CCMS Board of Directors is made up of Cairns, president of the board and coach for Lake County’s middle and high school ski teams, Karl Remsen, secretary and director of CCMS Nordic programs, and Richie Moutoux, Alpine race director at Ski Cooper. CCMS plans to add two additional parents to the board of directors this spring, Cairns said.
CCMS is sponsoring several events this winter, including the upcoming Cooper Cup on Jan. 22.