Cross country skiing balances fitness, academics
On a postcard perfect winter day it was all about the sun, the snow and the skis at Park Brook Elementary School. Grade school kids were practicing for the Minne-Loppet.

"The Minne-Loppet is our elementary school program," said Andy Harris of the Loppet Foundation. "We come in once a week and we do a little ski lesson with kids in lieu of their gym class."

Kids get to play ski games as instructor Harris teaches them the ins and outs of the sport.

"I'm a legend," joked one student. "I never fall."

"Shift across the ocean can help us be faster skiers," said another student. "It can help us get our balance."

The 10-week program has proven to be popular with the kids. There are lots of things for them to like.

"The speed and the gliding," said one youngster. "I like how you go whoosh and you go fast."

There is plenty of upside to cross country skiing. It gets the kids outside in the winter and is a fabulous cardio workout. Teachers say the cross country skiing has enhanced classroom performance.

"Looking at our test scores we've found that it is a positive impact," said Rick Christlieb, a Park Center PE teacher. "Kids are doing well here at Park Brook and we really believe it's making a great difference."

The goal is to expose the youngsters to a new sport and get them to continue skiing in the future.

"We're definitely trying to change the culture in this particular zone towards a healthier, more active lifestyle," Harris said. "Especially in the winter time."

"It's getting away from the traditional team sports," Christlieb said, "And giving as many opportunities as they can in regards to being active."

Eric Nelson, reporting

January 18, 2018


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