New program helps kids learn to ski at Wolf Mountain

Jan 9 2014 - 3:57pm

EDEN -- Thanks to a recently formed nonprofit called First Chair, 26 Ogden youth between the ages of 8 to 12 are getting their first chance to learn to ski and snowboard this winter.

Wolf Mountain Ski Resort is hosting the five-week after school program that started Tuesday.

"We are excited about First Chair's dedication to provide these kids with this opportunity," said Marla Rawlings, who directs Wolf Mountain's Snow Sport School.

Michael and Michelle McKenney, transplants to Utah from Connecticut and Vermont. launched First Chair with a group of like-minded friends in February 2013.

"We saw a need for this," said First Chair Executive Director Michael McKenney. "An individual's identity is often created through an extra-curricular activity. As funding for extra-curricular programs is dwindling, we believe it is our responsibility to create new opportunities outside of school."

His wife, Michelle McKenney, serves as First Chair's chief financial officer and first learned to ski at Cochran's Ski Area in Richmond, Vt. First Chair launched a similar effort this season at Cochran's with 10 young students.

The (Wolf Mountain) group signed up for the new program through the Ogden-based Boys & Girls Club of Weber-Davis, Michael McKenney said.

"Our mission is to open up the mountains through learn-to-ski or board programs to kids who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity," Michael McKenney said.

First Chair provides transportation, outfitting and enrollment, while the ski resort supplies the instruction.

First Chair's aim is to grow the program to 150 students next year and at some point take it nationwide, Michael McKenney said. According to their website,, donors can sponsor a child for $125, of which less than 20 percent goes for administrative costs.

"The kids are absolutely delighted," Michael McKenney said of the feedback he received from the students who hit Wolf Mountain's slopes. "They picked it up really quickly -- its muscle memory like a lot of other things in life."

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.



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