In the Upper Peninsula in the middle of winter, there's not much to do outside for many except shovel the driveway.
Many Yoopers, however, find some good excuses to get outdoors, such as walking the dog, sliding, snowshoeing, ice skating, or skiing -either cross country or downhill. My personal favorite is downhill, or alpine, skiing.
I first learned to ski when I was about 4 years old. My dad took me several times, and I was enrolled in lessons at the ski hill. As I got older, I decided to continue skiing, and I became involved with the Marquette Mountain Race Team. I learned a lot more about skiing by being involved in this program.
For anyone who doesn't understand how ski racing works, the basic idea is fairly simple, although we often make it more complicated. There are gates, which look like red and blue poles, set up on a ski hill, and the skiers must start at the top and ski around the gates in the right order to the finish line at the bottom. Beyond that, there are different types of courses, such as slalom (small turns) and Giant Slalom, or GS (large turns), different combinations of gates within the different courses, and many different techniques. The goal is to get to the finish line as fast as possible without falling, and speed is key when several seconds can be all that separates first place from last.
By the time I got to high school, MMRT was becoming old news for me. I wanted to race more and learn how to become a faster and better racer. This led me to join the Marquette Senior High School ski team.
Last year I was in ninth grade and it was my first year on the team. Luckily for me, because of a shortage of girls, I was on the Varsity "A" Team and I got to ski in every race. Practice and race schedules seemed rather intensive to me, but I enjoy it anyway.
We have practice every day after school, beginning with dry land training in the fall. During dry land training we lift weights and run. We start practicing at the ski hill as soon as there's enough snow, setting courses and doing drills over and over again. Beginning in January, we get to actually race. This year I'm on the "A" Team again, so I'll be skiing in most races. For most of January and February, we have one race nearly every week except for exam week.
Races are held at different ski hills around the U.P. and the Northern Lower Peninsula, and the Marquette team often has to travel several hours by bus to get to each meet. Once there, six boys and six girls from each attending team race on two runs of slalom and two runs of GS. Boys and girls are scored separately, and each racer gets a place based on his or her times.
Hopefully, this year's ski season will go as well as the last one did for me and, if nothing else, I'll just have some wintry fun outside. If you haven't tried skiing, you should definitely head out to the slopes this winter, and if you have gone before get out there. Skiing is always a good way to pass the time.
Editor's note: Maggie Guter, 15, is a sophomore at Marquette Senior High School. She is a long time member of 8-18 Media and is also involved in in sailing, skiing and piano. Her parents are Jake Guter and Mary Doll of Marquette. 8-18 Media is a youth journalism program of the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum. Through the program, teams of kids write news stories and commentaries on issues important to youth and about any good, or bad, things youth are up to. For more information call 906-226-7874, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org