Cool experience: Boy medals on Colorado slopes

Two pictures of a smiling skier, hands raised in triumph, sit side by side.

In the first, he is not yet 3, taking on the bunny slope at Paoli Peaks.

In the other, taken March 25, he is standing on the second tier of the awards platform at the National Standard Race (NASTAR) national championships at Steamboat Resort in Colorado.

Cameron Fox of Nashville took second place in the 12-to-13 age bracket of the silver division.

His dad, Ric, took seventh in the 60-to-64 division.

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This was the sixth straight year that father and son have qualified together for the NASTAR national championships.It’s a youth racing feeder program for the U.S. Ski Team.

Dad didn’t do quite as well as son, but he was still pleased with the experience.

“NASTAR isn’t for the elite skiers. That’s the whole idea of it,” Ric said. “It’s a recreational race program; it’s open to the public.”

For father and son, one of the biggest appeals of skiing is that it’s something they can do together.

“It’s fun, and we can both interact with it,” Cameron said. “I can teach him stuff, and he can teach me things, so, we’re like our own separate coach.”

What is the most significant lesson Cameron has taught his father?

“How not to be panicked,” Ric said.

Ric wouldn’t ski a lot of the terrain they ski together if Cameron were not with him.

“He pushes me to push myself,” Fox said.

Up to it

At 13, Cameron has been teaching other skiers for several years, including school and Boy Scout groups, Ric said.Sometimes the older children have resisted learning from someone younger than them, but not often, Cameron said.

“They’ll say, ‘Hey, this guy’s good, I should learn from the best,’” he said, smiling.

Ric added that he has overheard the other children say, “If he can do it, I can do it.”

Cameron’s first time on a real mountain in Colorado, Ric had trouble getting him to take the slopes with caution. When Cameron “found” the half pipe feature by skiing off a 35- to 40-foot drop, he was unfazed.

Ric rushed down to check on his son, kicking off his skis and getting ready to run to him, when Cameron stood up and raised both arms.

“I found it!” he cheered.

Even with his lighthearted confidence and a belief he would do well, Cameron said he had butterflies going into the race at nationals.

“A little bit, but I made a couple friends in the line,” he said. “So, before the race we were all talking about what we did wrong the last run, and we were giving each other pointers.”

For the love

The camaraderie is part of what Cameron enjoys about skiing.“It’s really friendly,” he said.

The season is more limited than other sports. You can’t take it inside as easily as with, say, basketball. But of all the sports Cameron participates in, including track, swimming and basketball, skiing is his favorite.

During the summer, he practices tricks on the trampoline.

His preference is the kind of skiing known as slopestyle, which involves a downhill course with obstacles such as rails and jumps.

He watches a lot of videos of Nick Goepper — a Lawrenceburg skier who took the bronze at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi — and then tries to match his tricks.

“He scares me half to death half the time,” Ric said.

While downhill racing, Cameron’s favorite element is going fast and getting low as he takes the corners. He enjoys pushing the edge of his balance and coordination.

Cameron plans to advance as a skier — as a hobby if nothing else.

“If I get a little better, maybe professional skiing,” he offered with a self-conscious grin.

“I hope he takes me along,” Ric said.

Ben Kibbey is a Brown County transplant from the cornfields of central Ohio. He covers county government, business, outdoors, sports and general news.