Ski Coaching Above the Arctic Circle

After finishing up my race season, I had the opportunity to venture north to the small village of Ambler, Alaska. This small community is located in Northwestern AK, above the Arctic Circle, and is home to around 250 people. I was joined on this trip by two other skiers: Reid Goble and Renee Anderson.

A map of the state of alaska
Description automatically generated
Flying into Ambler from Kotzebue

The three of us lead a “Skiku ski week” for the kids at the local village school. Skiku is a non-profit organization that sends skiers to dozens of rural Alaskan villages to get youth and families active and healthy on skis. 

A plane parked on the snow
Description automatically generated

We flew into the village on a small bush-plane and were welcomed by the principal who took us to the school via snowmobile! Each day we would wake up, eat breakfast, and head to the morning assembly with the kids. We would then take the kids outside for skiing in shifts throughout the day.

First, we would have the PreK-1st grade kids, then 2nd-6th grade, and then middle school and high schoolers.  We played lots of ski games including an epic ski scavenger hunt! The kids enjoyed skiing down hills and around obstacle courses that we set up.

Reid Goble’s crew!

Once the school day was done, we would do two to three hours of “after-school skiing” for anyone who wanted to come. Almost all the kids were eager to get back out on their skis after school, so this was a very fun and wild part of our day. During our after-school skis, we would do loops around the village, ski towards the village airstrip, and most popular, we would ski down to the big hill at the edge of town.

Lots of hills!

My favorite part about coaching in these villages is seeing how excited the kids are every day to go skiing. It didn’t matter if they were 4 years old, or 16, they were all so stoked. Along with the kids, we also got to ski with many of the teachers and staff at the school! The adults were right out there learning alongside their students which was pretty encouraging to see.

A person carrying a child on her back in the snow
Description automatically generated
Hannah giving a Piggyback ride for a tired 4-year-old after they put in 4+ hour days on skis!)

At the end of the week, we put on a short ski race for the kids around the town. Everyone got into it and flew through the course after having just 5 days on skis!

The community, school, and teachers were all extremely welcoming, and I felt so lucky to be there. As professional Nordic skiers, we spend a lot of time focusing on ourselves, so having the opportunity to give back to the ski community in a small way was very special.

If you’re interested in volunteering for Skiku or donating to the organization please check out the details here: Skiku 

Hannah Rudd

Kim Rudd skiing with her daughter Hannah!