By Dustin Luca
---- — HAVERHILL — The family that skis together competes together.
Merrimack Valley youth skiers were treated to a sort of home-slopes advantage at yesterday’s Eastern Massachusetts Championship Ski Race, held at Bradford Ski on South Cross Road. A Bradford Ski Team contingent of over 100 racers, all children aged 5 to 18, joined teams from around the state in the season finale.
Over 500 skiers from five teams came to the Eastern Massachusetts Buddy Werner League crescendo, with some families coming from as far away as Shrewsbury and Canton, according to Haverhill parent Mo Trout.
For one family, with 10 children spread across three households, the event was right in their backyard.
“We all like to spend time with each other, and skiing is a good sport to do it with, especially with your friends,” 12-year-old Rachel Cavallaro said.
The Bradford Ski Team practices every Tuesday and Thursday night at their home slopes, with races every Sunday since January pitting two teams in the league against each other.
It is here that the three households — the Cavallaro family in North Andover and Trout households in Haverhill and Belmont — come together three times a week.
“Every Sunday is a holiday for us during the winter,” Rachel said. “We just hang together, and we all enjoy skiing.”
Carmen Trout, 14, of Belmont, said they “still hang out together on holidays too. This is just an extra thing.”
Seven Trout and Cavallaro children competing in yesterday’s event said that skiing together helps them improve their skills. Maria Cavallaro, 12, said seeing her siblings or cousins, like her brother Nolan, on the slopes can teach her new tricks.
“I see him do it, I want to do it,” she said, laughing. “It doesn’t always work out, but we try.”
Nolan said everybody in the family “has their strengths and weaknesses. They’re all, like, ‘you can do this better, you can do that better,’ and we teach each other.”
Lisa Cavallaro, president of the team and mother of five skiers, said the family “got involved in the league, and then we just started running the league. We decided to take an interest in it and help run the league, and we brought it to where it is today.”
“We just worked on building a community, making it family-oriented for skiers of different levels,” she said.
With that, the team became popular among Merrimack Valley families. Rob Levey, the team’s communications director, said he could remember coming to the team three years ago after moving from Zimbabwe to the United States.
“Everybody made it a point of, ‘Are you new? How can I help you? What do you like? What do you need to know?’” he said. “They pull you in. It helps create a family.”
There are other benefits to having a family performing in a single sport that goes beyond the ability to grow together — especially for parents.
Mo Trout, who lives in Haverhill and brings three children to the fold, said “even to have three kids at the same practice, the same race ... it doesn’t usually work that way for other sports.”
Skiing is “an activity they all love, a sport they all love,” Mo Trout said.
“They were up this morning at 6 a.m. to meet their cousins here,” she said. “If they didn’t love it, they wouldn’t be out of bed.”
Because yesterday’s event marked the end of the season, all five teams in the league came together in Bradford. Only two or three hills in the area can support that level of foot traffic, according to Mo Trout.
But being at home didn’t give the Trouts, Cavallaros or any of the other dozens of skiers on the team a leg up on the competition, Mo Trout said.
“The kids race there all the time. They practice there,” she said. “So there’s a comfort factor racing out of your own hill, not necessarily a competitive edge.”