Mountains of Hope, mountains of cash |

Mountains of Hope, mountains of cash

Story and photos by Carolyn Pope
Natalia and Clyde Hanks.

The annual gala accompanying the American Ski Classic took a slightly different turn this year as the Vail Valley Foundation joined hands with a group of charitable organizations instead of just one, as in previous years.

This year’s “Mountains of Hope” brought together the Vail Valley Foundation, The Heuga Center, Shaw Regional Cancer Center and Steadman-Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation in a combined effort of “All for one and one for all,” reaping in funds for each of the local organizations.

After the festive races and spectacular spring weather, many red-faced skiers celebrated a few days of fun in the sun at the Park Hyatt Resort and Spa in Beaver Creek.

Celebrities spotted in the crowd included author Amy Tan; actors Paul Rudd, Giancarlo Esposito, Sharon Lawrence, Justin Melvy and Jake Thomas, Robert Carradine; and political activists Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Kerry Kennedy Cuomo.

Of course, the usual batch of athletes turned out, including gymnast Trent Dimas, swimmer Steve Lundquist and skater Eric Flaim with his wife, Heather – a luger. Former ski racers in attendance included Ingemar Stenmark, Tamara McKinney, Cindy Nelson and Ken Read, Lisi Kirchler, Moose Barrows and many more.

The event draws repeat guests each year, who wouldn’t miss their chance to ski at our beloved mountain. For some, the event holds special meaning. Pam Fletcher and her beau, John Castellanos, met here just a couple of years ago.

After dinner, Chris Harrison took the stage to emcee the event. Harrison, of course, is known for his profound statements, such as “Gentlemen, this is the last rose of the evening,” and “Ladies, say your goodbyes.”

For those of you who slept through last season’s “Bachelorette,” Harrison hosted the show that introduced Trista and Ryan.

Harrison helped run the live auction, along with Albert Bauer of Breckenridge, and the two played off each other beautifully. With the odd poke at his fellow skiers, Harrison kept the audience laughing as Bauer worked his way through the fabulous auction items, including a ski package to Films Laax, Switzerland, four nights at the Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas and a New York City trip, including box seats to a New York Yankees game.

“I’d love to come back next year, if you’ll have me,” Harrison said.

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