Dave Jereckie: the most highly qualified cross-country ski teacher one will likely ever encounter

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Dave Jareckie is the new ski teacher and coach at Prospect Mountain Touring Center in Woodford, Vt., but he has been keeping a close eye on the Winter Olympics in Utah, as well as keenly observing the past weekend’s Williams College Winter Carnival. He also enjoys skiing with the Mount Anthony Union High XC team and keeps track of the Bill Koch League kids. Jareckie, who still lives in Pownal, Vt., has done it all, from kid skiing to high school, at Middlebury College and in two Olympics, the 1992 games in France and the 1994 games in Norway. He was a member of the U.S. Biathlon Team for some eight years while competing around the world, assigned to the Army’s cold weather mountain warfare school in Jericho, Vt., on the western flanks of Mount Mansfield. After the 1994 Olympics, Jareckie went on Army Reserve status and competed in the regular Middlebury cross-country races ... sans rifle. Jareckie was never assigned to combat duty, but was on the list of snipers that were ready to go to the Somalian Conflict. He finally completed his studies at Middlebury last year, receiving a bachelor’s degree. But he will remain in the reserves for four years, as a member of Jericho’s Company A in the 172nd Infantry Regiment’s Third Battalion, with weekend training and the two-week summer stint. In the summers, Jareckie works for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Service. It has been a long stint and the son of Grace and Dave Jareckie of Middle Pownal Road is now 33. “I had a wonderful time, saw a lot of the world and the Army enabled me to graduate from Middlebury,” said Jareckie, who is probably the most highly qualified cross-country ski teacher one is apt to encounter. He teaches both the classic and skate techniques at all levels and ages and assists Prospect operators Andrea Amadeo and Steve Whitham in the rental department and on the trails. “It’s really tough to watch the biathlon competition at Soldier Hollow in Utah,” said Jareckie, who noted that the results are somewhat better than his team’s of a decade ago. He also keeps track of former high school friend Lincoln DeWitt, Olympic Skeleton team member. Despite bare ground in Bennington and Williamstown, there was plenty at Prospect and Sunday’s six- to eight-inch snowfall saw the best conditions of the season Monday. Jiminy, home of the Alpine events, provided racing-hard machine-made snow for the giant slalom and slalom races. Williams, for the fifth time on the carnival circuit, finished fifth. Perennial champ Vermont again won, followed by Dartmouth, Middlebury and UNH. “It’s been a disappointing season, as we have some great results each week, but more than matched by low placings,” said veteran ski coach Bud Fisher. He noted that Alpine Coach Ed Grees lost two of his best women to knee injuries, which has hurt the team all season. The New England Championships will take place Friday and Saturday at Middlebury, with the winners heading on to the NCAS Nationals in Alaska early next month. Fisher said he expects that at least a few of the Williams skiers will place high enough to make the trip. Captains of the Williams cross-country teams are seniors Hilary Hackman of Lenox and Matt Holland of Williamstown, both former Berkshire high school aces. Both did well in the various relays. Williams junior Chip Knight, a special student, could be in both the GS and slalom in the final days of the Olympics. Chip has been on the team for years, never skiing for Williams, but his father, Woody, Class of 1963, combined skiing and football and taught skiing at the former Petersburg Pass. And fever runs high at Mount Snow and Stratton, with both resorts waiting for Kelly Clark and Ross Powers, Olympic Gold Medal winners in the half-pipe, to return for victory celebrations. Powers boards for Stratton and will be back for sure March 18 - 20 to conduct his annual snowboard camp and to again compete in the 20th annual Snowboarding U.S. Open March 13 - 17. Powers will also be in action March 2 - 3 at Mountain Creek, N.J. Clark’s family restaurant at West Dover, Vt. — TJ’s — has become the headquarters for celebrants and the first place journalists visit. It looks as if Presidents’ Week should save the winter for virtually all resorts, which have suffered from little natural snow and a lack of wild enthusiasm. From Ski Butternut in Great Barrington all the way north through Vermont, big crowds are being reported. Okemo’s Pam Cruickshank said Monday the end of the day should see the popular resort’s biggest three-day head count in its long history. President’s Week could also be called “take in the cash week,” so don’t expect too many bargains. But for the rest of the winter, deals will abound and it is pointless to pay the window price. Bousquet is taking $5 off every lift ticket through April 1. Ski Cheap, the Newsletter for Frugal Northeastern Skiers and Riders, is closing and founder Chris Estes said reduced rates are being offered via www.cheapskateUSA.com. Some folks go by the snow in the shopping mall parking lots, but don’t forget that it lingers into May at many mountain sites and mighty Killington is again scheduling events throughout May and into June. I skied for the first time in March, 1949 at the former Dutch Hill with Win Gutmann, who died Feb. 1 while skiing in Zermatt, Switzerland. Win, who had just passed his instructor’s certification exam at Stowe, later asked me in 1953 to join the new Berkshire Ski School, which he and Jimmy Snell (who died a few years ago) had founded. They offered classes at Jiminy Peak, Bousquet, Eastover and Catamount and their instructors worked at the various places for several years. As his business career flourished, Win stopped teaching skiing, but never gave up the sport. After retiring in 1993 as international sales manager for Crane & Co., he began skiing each year in Europe. He was a pioneer in the sport, learning from super pioneers Win and Blanche Gutmann, his parents. They taught their son and probably thousands of youngsters in the Berkshires for some 50 years. John Hitchcock of Williamstown writes frequently about the area sports scene.

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