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Train Like an Olympian in Park City, Utah

January is "Learn a Snow Sports" month. So why not pick up Nordic jumping? As the 2010 Olympic athletes gear up for their trip to Vancouver in a few weeks, you can fine tune your own skills at Olympic events in Park City, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. They've got introductory courses in nearly all Olympic disciplines, from bobsledding to curling to slalom skiing.

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Stefan Thomas grabbing some tail above Park City's Eagle superpipe.
Stefan Thomas grabbing some tail above Park City’s Eagle superpipe.

If you’ve ever wanted to try curling, now is your chance. Or skeleton, bobsledding, nordic jumping, slalom skiing, and others. Park City, the host of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, is offering introductory courses for nearly all Olympic disciplines. Here are the details.

Snowboarding – Learn to snowboard with professional instruction at The Canyons Resort. The Canyons’ Burton Learn to Ride program offers beginner-specific equipment and instruction to help novices on the first day. Beginner snowboarders, ages 15 and up, receive a lift ticket, full day lesson and equipment rental for $99. Lessons are available daily.

Skiing – Perfect your slalom turns with a lesson at Deer Valley Resort with the Mahre Training Center Ski Camp. This three-day session, conducted in part by Olympic medal winners Phil and Steve Mahre, provides skiing fundamentals for all ability levels. Participants ages 12 or older receive six hours of daily instruction by Deer Valley’s top ski coaches, indoor sessions and video analysis. The cost of the clinic is $712, including lift tickets, and runs February 5-7. Additional specialty ski development lessons run through the winter.

Freestyle Snowboarding – Test your halfpipe and slopestyle skills with a freestyle snowboard lesson at Park City Mountain Resort. Adults ages 21 and older can learn the techniques of basic freestyle snowboarding through this three-day camp, taught by Park City Mountain Resort’s terrain park coaches. The Learn to Freestyle Camp costs $495, including lift tickets, and runs January 28-31. Individual and group freestyle single-day lessons are offered daily through the winter.

Adaptive Skiing and Snowboarding – The National Ability Center’s ski and snowboard program provides outdoor recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. As one of the largest adaptive winter programs in the world, the National Ability Center’s ski facility, located at Park City Mountain Resort, modifies traditional ski and snowboard equipment to assist individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities. Full-day and two-hour ski and snowboard lessons are available on a daily basis to students, and prices are based on a sliding scale.

Bobsledding – Feel the rush on The Comet bobsled ride as you speed down the 2002 Olympic ice track in a four-person sled at the Utah Olympic Park. Open to the pubic, a trained pilot will drive three passengers, ages 16 and older, through 15 curves, reaching speeds up to 80 mph and pulling nearly 5 Gs of force. Close to one minute in length, this ride is a glimpse into the life on an Olympic bobsled athlete. Bobsled rides are $200 per person. Dates and times vary but are usually offered Tuesday – Saturday.

Skeleton – Slide head-first down the Olympic track with the Utah Olympic Park’s public skeleton ride. Receive instruction by the world’s top skeleton coaches and before taking to the track individually. Participants ages 14 and older require no prior experience, and equipment is provided. Skeleton rides are $50 per person and are available on various Saturdays through March.

Luge – Youth, ages 9 to 13, can experience sliding feet-first down the 2002 Olympic track in an introductory luge program at the Utah Olympic Park. This single-day event offers participants two hours of ice time and up to four runs on the track. This Single Session Beginner Youth Luge program is a low-impact, investigative opportunity with a minimal time commitment. Athletes are instructed on the basics of controlling a luge sled, basic body position and driving tips. The youth luge program is offered at $50 per session and are offered on various Saturdays through January.

Nordic Jumping – Learn to fly through the air with the VISA Learn to Ski Jump Camps, recommended for children ages 6-11. This two-hour, one-day session offers an introductory look for children interested in Nordic Jumping. Some basic alpine skiing skills are recommended, and equipment is provided with prior notice. Learn to Ski Jump Camps are $45 per session and are offered once a month through March.

Nordic Skiing – Learn the proper fundamentals of skate-skiing with the expert staff at White Pine Touring. This high-intensity sport combines agility and stamina to cover endless miles of groomed cross country ski trails in Park City. Adult and children skate skiing lessons are offered daily by White Pine Touring throughout the winter beginning at $80.

Curling – In two hours, participants of all ages can master the art of curling with Park City Ice Arena’s Learn to Curl clinic. The $11 class includes equipment, practice time and games. Learn to Curl clinics are available on various Saturdays through April.

Speed Skating & Hockey – Athletes who already participate in speed skating and ice hockey are encouraged to stop by the Park City Ice Arena for drop-in races and games, offered weekly throughout the winter.