‘Do the drills, get the skills’ | VailDaily.com
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‘Do the drills, get the skills’

Mitch Nevin and Sandy Simonton.
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There’s one big problem with contests, races, competitions, pageants, Super Bowls and political elections. Only one person wins, and everyone else is, well, a “loser,” because there’s only one first place.

Fortunately, that’s not the way it is in everyday life. Lots of folks can make money on a hot new stock, tenacious and smart kids can get into Ivy League schools, and – if you put your nose to the proverbial grindstone, save some money and work hard – pretty much anyone can buy their own home.Buddy Werner Leagues are like that. Sure, there are races, but there’s no gold, silver or bronze. Everyone wins.

At the awards banquet, every child walks away with a medal, a ribbon or a prize. It’s not about first, second of third place. It’s about “do the drills, get the skills” – learning how to race and having a great time skiing with friends.The Vail/Beaver Creek Buddy Werner League is a nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers. All of the coaches – usually parents – are volunteers, and many coaches continue on even after their kids have graduated.



The program is named after Buddy Werner, an Olympic ski racer from Steamboat Springs. He never won a medal, despite skiing in three Winter Olympics. Through his values and sportsmanship, he was highly respected. During the 1964 Olympics, he crashed during a race he was expected to win. The U.S. men’s team had yet to win a medal skiing, so Werner’s hopes for becoming the first were dashed.

However, when his teammates, Billy Kidd and Jimmie Heuga – both considered long shots – clinched second and third place to capture two medals, Werner leaped into the finish arena and threw his arms around them. His joy was contagious. Werner died in an avalanche 37 years ago.



Sportsmanship is the focus and foundation of the Buddy Werner League, and his legacy continues to touch the lives of thousands of young skiers throughout the U.S. each ski season.

Awards were handed out at the annual banquet for such things as “Unique Feet” – which could mean anything from “most likely to run up her parents’ resort charge” to “most likely to be on the ski team at Dartmouth.” Samantha Hancock, for example, walked away with the “Girl’s Rule, Boys Drool” – translation: “Get out of my way, I’m coming through.”Other awards are: most improved girl and boy, safest skier and best sportsmanship.

Vail Resorts and the Vail Valley Foundation sponsor the program, though they received lots of help from Kara Heide of Vail Resorts, Jim Roberts, the race crew, ski patrol, John Neufeld and the cat crew.Registration for Buddy Werner is in the fall. For more information, for more information, call Tom at 376-0129 or Michael at 376-0884.



Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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