Youth ski league


Mid-October: Registration opens

DATE: Parent info meeting

December 1: early-bird registration deadline (save $50)

December TBA: final registration deadline

January TBA: First week of program

February TBA: Last week of program

Locations: Choose from Tuesdays and/or Thursdays at Lindley Park and/or Saturdays at Bohart Ranch.


TBA for next Year.

Age cutoff: skiers should be 5+ by January 1, 2017


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BSF Membership
Note: In order to register for a BSF program, you must already have a current BSF annual membership. (These are two different checkout systems. Sorry for the inconvenience. It does keep our costs down.)
*Saturday participants must have a Bohart Ranch trail pass regardless of your child's age. Bohart Ranch offers a Season Pass for BSF Nordic YSL Participants at a rate of $50/year (allowing access to Bohart trails the entire season). If you wish to register for one of the Bohart options but already have a Bohart family pass, please contact the BSF office to register without the pass included in the program fee. Call 406-587-2445.

The BSF Nordic Youth Ski League (YSL) provides opportunities for youth to have fun while learning to cross-country ski with experienced coaches. Our coaches are certified by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. We focus on the fundamentals of skiing: coordination, balance and unabashed enjoyment. Most sessions focus on the "classic" (or striding) technique but we also offer skate-only sessions. 

NOTE: Stay tuned for some changes for the 2017-2018 season. (All info below refers to the past season.)

Who should join

Classic (striding) sessions: ages 5-12

Skate only & skate/classic combo sessions: ages 10+ and ages 7-9 with two years of YSL experience.

No prior ski experience necessary. Children are placed into groups based on age and ability.

For the youngest (ages 5-7), we recommend one day a week.

For older kids—and those with more than one year in the program—we recommend two days a week. We have found tremendous benefit and dramatic improvement not just in their skills but in their confidence and enjoyment of the sport. 


You choose: 1 session or 2 sessions per week for 8 weeks

Tuesdays, Thursdays, and/or Saturdays

Tuesday Sessions

4:15-5:30 p.m. at the Lindley Park Pavilion, Cypress St.

8 weeks

Thursday Sessions

4:15-5:30 p.m. at the Lindley Park Pavilion, Cypress St.

8 weeks

Skate/Classic Session:

(for all skiers age 10 and older and skiers age 7 to 9 who have been in Youth Ski League at least two years)

Tuesdays & Thursdays at Lindley Pavilion, 4:15 to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday Sessions

10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. at Bohart Ranch

8 weeks

what we do

Younger beginners will focus on classic (or striding) technique through games, drills, balance and coordination activities with an emphasis on fun.

Skate skiing: Older children and those who have been in Nordic YSL for at least two years have the option of learning "skate" technique while also mastering classic technique. Proper equipment is required, and BSF has skate ski packages available to rent for the season. If your child is not interested in learning to skate at this time, it’s not a problem! They will stay with other kids of similar age and ability to focus on classic technique while having fun.


Contact Nordic Youth Ski League Directors Douglas Fischer or Rebekah Bunting, or

Or call either of us on our cell phones: Rebekah at 406-579-3205 or Douglas at 406-600-8469. 


Proper equipment is required. We recommend waxless skis for classic and dedicated skate skis for skate classes. BSF has skate ski packages available to rent for the season. (We currently do not rent classic skis.)

Classic skis: We do not recommend three-pin bindings, as they tend to rub against the tracks and make it harder for the skis to glide. We recommend waxless (or "fish-scaled") skis. Skis should be roughly up to their wrist when their arm is extended over their head.

Classic poles:  should reach between the armpit and the shoulder.

Skate skis:  Skis should be wax-able. Keep in mind that with combi skis you will have to clean the classic kick wax off the skis before your skier will be able to skate on them. Ski length should be 1-3 inches longer than the child's height.

Skate poles: Should reach from the ground to the top of the child's shoulder. 

Skate/Classic Lessons: For twice-a-week skate/classic ski session, lessons will be divided 50 percent classic and 50 percent skate. We recommend dedicated skate and classic skis.  

Clothing: We recommend that skiers dress in layered clothing. Most clothing designed for alpine skiing is not appropriate for cross-country skiing as it restricts movement and causes the child to overheat.

Where to Buy Equipment
  • New Equipment may be purchased at Bangtail Ski Shop, Homestake Lodge, REI and Bob Wards.
  • Used Equipment: The Ski Swap, held each November at the Fairgrounds. Thousands of items. (It's also one of BSF's biggest fundraisers.) BSF members get in an hour early. If you volunteer at the event, you get in even earlier!
  • Saturday rentals at Bohart: skiers in the Saturday program at Bohart may rent skis, boots, and poles at the Bohart Ranch warming hut. Please call ahead to Bohart Ranch if you plan to rent and arrive up to 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the lesson.
  • Skate rentals from BSF: BSF has skate ski packages available for YSL skiers in the skate/classic session to rent: We offer skis, boots and poles (a $340 retail value) for $50 for the season.
Cancellations & weather

Bozeman kids are a hardy bunch. Lessons will only be canceled due to temperatures of 10°F or lower. Sessions will not be canceled or postponed due to lack of snow or snow conditions; instead, we’ll communicate instructions for dry-land training (ski-specific activities for outside when snow is not available).

We do not have make-up days, for either sickness or weather-related cancelations.


While we don’t put on races in the YSL program, there are certainly chances for young skiers to participate in fun local races, should they wish.


When you register for the program, you will be added to an email list. Your coaches will communicate weekly details to you through email, as well as any last-minute changes. (It’s important that you do not unsubscribe to BSF emails, as this is our main mode of communication in the winter.) If for some reason, you are not receiving emails from the YSL directors, let us know!


Races: Parent/volunteer assistance with races is needed and is a fun place for parents to learn about ski racing. No experience necessary. Look for info in emails. 

Other chances: BSF is a traditional nonprofit, relying on donations and fundraisers to cover approximately 50% of our program costs. Volunteers donate thousands of hours each year. We couldn’t do it without you! We’re always looking for volunteers to help with our fundraisers, serve on committees, or help at Nordic, Alpine, and Freestyle/Freeskiing competitions.

Coaching: We love having parents as coaches. We pay a modest stipend and cover training and CPR/First Aid certification. And you get to have a ridiculous amount of fun. Interested? Email us or click on the coaching button when you register your child.

Trail Passes

The trails we use in and around Bozeman, including those at Lindley, are groomed in the winter by Bridger Ski Foundation. BSF must fundraise to cover grooming and maintenance costs; donations and trail pass sales vital to continuing this service. Trail passes are voluntary; please consider purchasing a family pass if you can. And be sure to explore all the trails.

What's after ysl?

BSF has a fun development team for ages 8-13 that skiers can join when they’re ready. (There are no skill or fitness requirements; as long as you’re old enough, you can join.) They meet more often, and older skiers can participate in fall dryland activities (hiking, games, etc.). Racing is available for this group, but—as with all our BSF programs—it’s always optional.


Contact Nordic Youth Ski League Directors Douglas Fischer or Rebekah Bunting, or

Or call either of us on our cell phones: Rebekah at 406-579-3205 or Douglas at 406-600-8469. 


There’s a bigger picture to what BSF teaches skiers, when and why. BSF’s programs are consistent with the USSA Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Systems.

What does that mean? We’re not focused on short-term success—and the hazards (and burnout) that often come with it. Instead, we follow LTAD plans that are individualized and based on science to make sure your child can maximize their long-term potential as a skier (should they wish to do so) and their enjoyment in the sport. We take into account a child’s development physiologically, cognitively and socially, as well as their experience skiing.

This makes it easy for your child to progress through our programs as they age and develop, even on to skiing as an adult Masters athlete.

(View the entire LTAD for all skiing disciplines HERE.) 


Phase 1 

Ages: 2-6 

Years skiing: 1-4 

Days per week: 1-3

Training emphasis 

An emphasis on outdoor recreation. Ski for play, fun and balance. Parents should encourage play, rather than training. Child should participate in many physical activities and explore individual coordination or balance-based sports. Team sports are encouraged to build teamwork, ethics and fair play.

Physical fitness focus

Begin to develop fundamental movement skills through play, fun, novel activities. Explore activities and games that use a variety of body movements and that encourage range-of-motion and exploration of movement options. Fast movements developed by running, jumping, throwing. Create a foundation for agility, balance and coordination through participation in multiple sports or physical activities.

Technical and Tactical Emphasis  

Athletes in Phase 1 should have fun on snow, with games and play enhancing both enjoyment and skills. This includes learning how to run on skis, gaining confidence, general athletic skills, fitness and coordination. Terrain should be flatter, shorter trails.

Performance Psychology Emphasis  

At this time, it’s important to foster an environment that promotes enjoyment amongst the participants. Provide participants opportunities to experience success with even the most fundamental of tasks and positively reinforce these behaviors. Inspire a passion for the sport.  

Competition Emphasis   

Competition only exists in the form of cooperative games or relays on skis.

Phase 2 

Ages: 6-10 

Years in skiing: 1-4 

Days per week: 2-6 or as enjoyable

Training Emphasis 

An emphasis on outdoor recreation. Parents should emphasize activity versus training. Child should play many sports, with active participation in coordination- or balance-based sports.  

Physical fitness focus 

 Increase play to enhance specific elements of physical fitness in open environments. Continue to establish foundations of endurance through sustained activity and play. Add duration to activities and games. Introduce and practice mobility exercises through unorganized play and some structured activities. Use fun playful activities to enhance body awareness, spatial awareness and object manipulation.

Technical and Tactical Emphasis  

Athletes in Phase 2 should have fun on snow, with games and play enhancing both enjoyment and skills. Gaining confidence and coordination while running on skis in multiple directions.  Ability to balance on both skis while moving downhill. Tactics are learned through self-discovery by skiing and adapting to different terrain.


Performance Psychology Emphasis  

Continued cultivation of a fun environment to allow child to continue to experience success. Use simple self-talk cue words to reinforce task-oriented behaviors.  Focus on the love of sport.

Competition Emphasis   

Compete for fun. Local competition at age-appropriate distances.