YMCA campers in Brooklyn treated to Nordic demonstration by US athletes


As the world gears for the Summer Olympic Games in London, T2 Foundation and U.S. Ski Team members Jessie Diggins and Andy Newell met with YMCA campers in Brooklyn to talk about what it takes to be a world-class athlete, the importance of fitness and the meaning of team spirit, while introducing kids to Nordic skiing.

The event was organized by the T2 Foundation, a nonprofit committed to supporting elite athletes and inspiring youth. More than 140 campers, age 7-12, took part in the event.

Before learning a series of exercises that Diggins and Newell use in their everyday training, such as critter crawls and various types of bounding with ski poles, the group gathered for a talk about being a World Cup athlete and Olympian. They watched a video of the athletes racing this winter, and they were treated a show-and-tell of cross-country equipment. The crowd went wild when Andy strapped on his roller skis and raced around the indoor track.

“Go around the track, go around the track,” they chanted.

“The event was a total success,” said Marina Knight, director of the T2 Foundation. “The kids loved meeting Andy and Jessie and having the chance to interact with them. Hopefully, the kids will be inspired and carry the experience with them.”

“It was super exciting to show a sport like cross country skiing to some kids who probably hadn’t seen much skiing before or participated in many winter sports activities,” Newell said.

“Even though most of the kids hadn’t heard of skiing before or tried it, they were eager to try out new equipment and learn ski walking and bounding, as well as be active and try out new exercises,” Diggins said.

One of the goals at the outset of the event was to keep the kids moving for about 30 minutes, to get them to experience the endurance side of the sport.

“I was stoked with the energy of the kids. Children that age love to run around and play games,” Diggins said. “I think it was fun for them to see what cross country skiing was. The look on their faces when they saw how fast the roller skis could go on the track was pretty classic. They where psyched. Whether they were into cross-country skiing or not though, I think it was beneficial for them to hang out with some Olympians and get some exercises.”

“I hope they take away the idea that anything is possible as long as you set high goals and work hard,” Newell said. “When I meet with kids, the message I try to get across is to stay active every day, even if it’s just playing outside go get some exercise and have some fun.”

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