BEAVER CREEK, Colorado - Athletes who excelled in Vail Resorts new recreational ski racing program were personally congratulated by the most decorated female ski racer in U.S. history on Saturday at Beaver Creek. Lindsey Vonn handed out awards to the podium finishers of VR's new EpicMix racing program, a season-long ski racing competition which replaced Nastar at the company's resorts this year and culminated with a championship at Beaver Creek on Saturday."I'm excited that this program worked," said Vonn, who set the curve by which all other EpicMix racing times were judged earlier this season at a course on Golden Peak in Vail. " I've been having a really good time following you guys on Twitter and Facebook, and seeing those fast times. My brother still didn't beat me ... Next year hopefully I'll be out there racing with you guys, and I want to see some faster times!"Currently recovering from a knee surgery, Vonn wasn't able to participate in Saturday's races."I'm really sorry I couldn't be up there racing with you guys," she told a crowd of several hundred that had gathered at Beaver Creek for the awards ceremony. Audrey Schultz of Granby, winner of the women's 60-64 year-old category, accepted her award on stage wearing a knee brace similar to Vonn's."I had a full knee reconstruction with implant here in Vail by Dr. Gary Hess or Denver-Vail Orthopaedics about a year ago," she said. "The recovery's been great."Schultz said the EpicMix racing program was a nice addition to her recovery. "They're very kind and generous, and very patient with us older folks," she said. "It's something to see older women racing in a speed suit, let me tell you."Men's overall winner Natron Smith had the fastest time in the field at 57.44, but said getting to spend a moment with Vonn on stage was the highlight of the program for him."I told her she was beautiful, and that she looked like a movie star," Smith said.Following the awards, Vonn announced she is awarding six youth ski racers scholarships to local race programs at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly and Northstar. Vail Resorts donated a portion of its revenue from the new EpicMix Race program across the six resorts to support Vonn's commitment to giving back to the skiing community for future generations. Two scholarships will be given to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, for Vail and Beaver Creek racers; two scholarships will be given to Team Summit for Keystone and Breckenridge racers; and one scholarship each will be awarded to the Heavenly Ski & Snowboard Foundation and the Northstar Ski Racing Club. "Making ski racing fun, engaging and accessible for kids and families is an exciting opportunity and a deep passion of mine," Vonn said. "As ambassador and official pacesetter for Vail Resorts' new EpicMix Race program, I'm thrilled to be able to offer six scholarships to local ski and snowboard clubs to help young racers work towards achieving their dreams."
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