50+ Years on the Slopes: Recreation and Park District Offers Ski and Snowboard Program in January

As of last ski season, the iconic B was replaced with a chevron.

As of last ski season, the iconic B was replaced with a chevron.

Sign-ups are now underway for the decades-long tradition of ski school lessons through the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District. The program has evolved over the years since being established by Norm Bachelor and Ed Hole in the early 1950s, and though snowboard school is also offered these days, the popular felt Bs, introduced by Rec and Park’s Jim McDill, are no longer used to rank student achievement. Alumni of North Shore Elementary, prior to 1978 (and Proposition 13), likely remember when busloads of students as young as kindergartners would gather their ski equipment, kept in the round school’s closets, to enjoy P.E. in the form of ski lessons on the slopes at Snow Summit and Goldmine. The season-long program would allow students the opportunity to achieve advancing levels of the B, from white beginners, then on to green, blue, yellow, orange and, the ultimate achievement, red; these Bs were then sewn on ski jackets and proudly displayed. As the current ski and board program is now offered on a weekly basis (in two sessions, starting on January 4 and January 15), the Recreation and Park District now offers three levels of chevrons, rather than five levels of B, as of last season. As explained by the district’s Recreation Superintendent Glenn Jacklin, “We changed it to the three chevron system since we only have a week-long program. The three colors—now green, blue and black—correspond to the ability levels that are color-coded on the slopes.” A new tradition may be in the making, as Big Bear’s young skiers and riders hit the slopes at Snow Summit, in hopes of achieving the black chevron, entitling them to ski on the black diamond runs. The cost to participate in the program, no longer offered as a P.E. class through Bear Valley Unified, is $60 per student, with discounts offered for second signup, whether it be for a sibling or a second session. Parents are asked to complete paperwork at the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District offices, located at the west end of Park Avenue in Big Bear Lake, at least one week prior to lessons which, again, start on January 4 and then on January 15. For more information, call 866-9700.

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