Liad Barash, 11, a fifth-grader at David Mindess School in Ashland, skied to a second place victory overall in his age group, U-12 boys, at the Higgins race at Wachusett on Jan. 25, while claiming first place between the Wachusett Mountain race team (WMRT) for U-12 boys. The Higgins is one of three qualifying races for the Tri-State and USSA Championship Events, putting him in a good position for advancement.
“I just kind of skied my heart out and got second place,” Liad said, “It was really exciting.” Liad explained that there were many good skiers in his age group from the WMRT and other mountains.
This racing prize is his first and is a testament to how hard he has worked at his craft. Liad has been skiing since age 2, when he took the Polar Kids program at Wachusett Mountain, and he has continued to learn through the years.
Liad trains Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at Wachusett Mountain to prepare for race days.
“He did improve a lot this year,” Geva Barash, his father, said. “Most of it is the hard work that he is putting into it, four times a week, but it is also the Wachusett Mountain race team. The program, the coaches that they have, they have done just outstanding work with him.”
Liad noted the help of the Wachussett Mountain coaches, but also spoke highly of his fellow team member Elaine Jones and her family.
“The whole Jones family, they’ve really helped me,” Liad stated. “They’ve given me a lot of tips.” Some of these tips include ways to stay focused. How to get back up when you’ve fallen.
At the Higgins race, Donnie Jones earned first place for the U-14 Boys and Elaine Jones took first place for U-12 Girls.
Liad has been skiing for two years in races, and he said that each year the races become more difficult.
“Once you get older, you go later on in the race, so it gets much more icy, so it’s definitely getting harder,” Liad said.
Some other challenges he faces include dealing with the cold temperatures and going through the gates. Liad stays warm using handwarmers, personal heating devices, and special protective gear. Although he is nervous for races, he remembers the advice from his team, family, and friends, which helps him stay focused.
Liad said of skiing, “I just really like it. I like practicing a lot. Races are fun, too.” Liad hopes to continue placing and improving as the season continues.