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Vt. gov. makes skiing, riding new state sports

By Lisa Rathke
Associated Press / March 8, 2012
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STOWE, Vt.—Thanks to some schoolchildren, skiing and riding are now the official winter sports of Vermont, where the two sports have a strong legacy.

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the proposal into law at the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum on Thursday with the children, now teenagers, and Burton Snowboard founder Jake Burton at the governor's side.

The idea was proposed by a group of 5th and 6th graders from Swanton four years ago when they realized in gym class that the state didn't have a state sport. They researched favorite sports -- from soccer to hiking and fishing -- and eventually chose skiing and snowboarding because of their connections to Vermont.

The Green Mountain state is home to some of the first ski resorts in the East and snowboarding pioneer Burton Snowboards, which helped turned the sport into a billion dollar business.

With the help of teachers and legislators, the children brought their idea to the Statehouse where they testified before the state Senate. The measure won final approval last month.

The school project was an opportunity to make learning meaningful for kids and have them apply lessons to an idea they believe in, said Kirsten Belrose, their former teacher. The kids also learned how to get something done in a democracy and that it takes time, the governor said.

Vermont is one of at least two states that have designated skiing and snowboarding as their official sports, according to the online reference site netstate.com.

Burton said it was great to formally recognize snowboarding as the state's official winter sport.

"I'm proud of the state, proud of the sport and proud of the kids, in particular," said Burton before heading to Burton's U.S. Snowboarding Open in Stratton, which celebrates their 30th anniversary this week.

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