Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Morgan Mitchell (111), right, also of Monticello. finished 26th in the U14 girls.
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO February 15, 2013 Back in the mid 70s, a group of local parents and volunteers were looking for a way to foster a ski culture in Sullivan County. The nascent group was focused on spreading skiing skills, and more importantly, introducing young athletes to ski racing.
Thus was born the Holiday Mountain Ski Club (HMSC). With short numbers and waning interest, the club languished in the late 90s and early 00s. Six years ago, though, locals JJ Pavese and Kim Bittinger decided they wanted to revive the dormant club.
And revive they have. The club currently boasts 130 members between the club and and traveling team up from just 80 when Pavese and Bittenger began their effort. "We've been able to hover around 130 kids over the last three years, but we actually peaked at about 150 during that time," said Pavese, a designer by trade with Rettew Engineering and Survey, PC. of Liberty.
This past Sunday, the Holiday Mountain Ski Club hosted the United States Ski Association (USSA) sanctioned “Council Race” at Holiday Mountain where 100 young athletes between the ages of five and 18 participated in the daylong event the only such race the venerable mountain hosts on a yearly basis and the sixth consecutive year that Pavese and Bittinger have had a hand in organizing the event.
The Council Race, is just one of the four USSA-sanctioned races the HSMC attends throughout the club season which runs from just after Christmas through late March. The four races act as qualifiers for the annual New York State Championships.
That’s not where the club’s events end, though, as they also host five of what Pavese calls “Mini World Cup” races on Sundays throughout the season for their younger athletes to compete in. Holiday Mountain also proudly hosts between four to six local high-school races each season. The high-school races also act as Section IX championship qualifiers.
Asked who he could name as the club’s standout athletes, Pavese had no shortage of names to drop, offering, “I’ll say one of our club’s former athletes, Carl McGuire of Liberty who now skis for Hunter Mountain. He placed 7th in the U14 male category for Hunter, but last year while with us he qualified for the NYS Championships.”
Pavese also named current members: U14 female athlete Olivia Racette of Liberty who placed 9th on Sunday, Kyle Foss from Monticello (U14 boys) who placed 18th along with Anna Bittinger and Morgan Mitchell both of Monticello who finished 20th and 26th in U14 girls.
The HMSC will be hosting its next Mini World Cup race on Sunday, and on March 2 is the 2nd annual Bob Whipple Classic which is open to all participants.
Regarding his clubs performance Sunday, Pavese said, “We're extremely proud of our top-10 finishers and all of the athletes who regularly compete at USSA races and on our travel team.”
For more information, or for anyone interested in becoming a member of the Holiday Mountain Ski Club, just call 845-796-3161 or go to their web-site at www.holidaymountain.com. Those looking to compete in or any business looking to help sponsor the Bob Whipple Classic are also asked to contact Mr. Pavese directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.