Coaching skiing is a year-round passion for Hein
July, August and September are just other winter months for ski coach Jim Hein. Throughout the past three summers, Hein has been taking groups of
junior racers to the eternal snow of Mount Hood, Ore.
Starting this season, he will also be heading the refurbished junior race program for Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort.
Mount Hood has long been known for its summer ski camps; any given week, American, Austrian or Canadian national teams may share lane after lane with ski academy students and junior teams needing extra time in the gates. When Hein was coaching for the Kirkwood ski team (KSEF), he decided his young charges might also benefit from some further training.
“I headed up there with just one of the kids in August ’98,” he said. “Kylese [Zaiger] and I did some training and I basically scoped it out, getting information on condo rentals, lane reservations, ticket prices and so on. Then I put together a program for the KSEF racers and spent practically the whole next summer at Hood. The camp was so successful that we returned this past summer for more of the same.”
The campers are benefiting, too, because of the manageable turnout.
“The groups have been just the right size, too,” Hein said. “Usually no more than four or five kids for any weeklong session, but a lot of them will sign up for multiple weeks. I purposely try to keep the numbers down, so I can spend a lot of time individually with everyone.”
Coach Hein’s camps at Mount Hood keep his junior racers busy. Sessions go from Monday through Friday, with the first day for free skiing, then two days of slalom training, followed by two of giant slalom. It’s not your typical summer vacation since everyone is up by 6 am and on the hill by 7:30 a.m. Warm summer sun means training is done by noon, and then on to other sports activities.
“After lunch, we need to wax our skis since the chemicals used to harden the snow really dry out the ski bases,” Hein said. “Then it’s on to things like weight lifting, in-line skating, hiking, white water rafting or even agility drills.
“Later in the afternoon, the kids have a couple hours to themselves and we watch video of the day’s skiing before or after dinner. Bedtime is by 9:30, but I’ve never had to enforce that; sometimes they’ll crawl to bed as early as 8,” Hein added with a chuckle.
Hein brings a long resume to his camps. After one decade of ski teaching, he has spent another 10 years coaching racers. Growing up in the firm-snow country of New Hampshire, Hein spent most of his own youth traveling throughout New England as a junior racer.
After his recent three-year stint with KSEF, he now moves over to head the Sierra-at-Tahoe alpine program.
Of his new position, Hein said, “Recently, there was a turnover of the long-standing coaches at Sierra. Karen Hauser (snow sport school manager) and I have talked, and we want to focus on the lower-age groups. That will be ages 9-14, which are called JV, JIV and JIII. In the next few years, as the program develops and kids move up to the older groups (JII and JI), we’ll add more coaches to cover those areas.”
As of last season, only Scott Bell remained on the alpine coaching staff. He
and Hein will share coaching duties, along with training sessions for the ski school staff. Hauser plans to eventually open up high-end coaching sessions to the public.
“We have a young team we want to concentrate on building from the bottom up. Having Jim come on board will be great; it will give an even bigger opportunity to the kids for training – even in the summer.”
Hein brings his own coaching philosophy to Sierra-at-Tahoe, developed from his years on the job.
“First, you need to create a positive learning/coaching environment. Then you need to give the kids challenges, but not things that’ll be over their heads. They have to be able to have some success. Third, pay attention to all the kids, not just whoever is doing well. And last, listen to what they say. You can learn a lot from these kids. Their opinion counts.”
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