Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Fundraiser supports hopes of U.S. Skiing’s B Team | VailDaily.com

Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Fundraiser supports hopes of U.S. Skiing’s B Team

The road to the podium starts at a young age for the U.S. Ski Team athletes. Many team members were on skis by the age of 2 or 3 and started competing seriously in their early teens. During those early years, mom and dad are the primary sponsors, but as the stakes get higher, so does the cost to compete.

This year, it will cost each B Team athlete $20,000 for team fees and travel expenses. The A Team is funded, but for those a few tenths or hundredths of a second behind them, there is a price tag associated with success.

To help raise money for the B Team, which consists of 12 men and women, a fundraiser was held on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

At $1,000 a ticket, attendees got to mix and mingle at an intimate venue with the world's fastest racers and discuss training schedules and future aspirations over sushi and drinks provided by Yama Sushi in Vail Village. Many A Team members were in attendance, including Ted Ligety and Lindsey Vonn, who was recently sidelined with an injury to her right arm, but she was in good spirits and hid any affliction under a stylish black knit poncho.

The fundraiser was entirely a team event. The members of the B Team set up the venue, sent out invitations to potential donors, gathered all the live and silent auction items and arrived early to set up. Silent auction items included a trip to Jackson Hole and skiing with Olympian Tommy Moe as well as a 2016 Hahnenkamm race poster, which was signed not only by U.S. Ski team athletes, but also by several of the past winners from other countries like Lasse Kjus, of Norway, and last year's winner, Peter Fill, of Italy.

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The big-ticket items included race suits from Vonn and Ligety. The bidding was lively, with a few donors even texting in their bids from across the nation.

Ligety spoke to the audience while his race suit was up for auction and explained how much this funding means to athletes.

"When I was on the B Team, we were actually funded at the time, but if that would not have been the case, I'm sure my dad would have kicked me to the curb and said 'go to college!'" joked Ligety.

Fellow teammate Steven Nyman knows all too well what it feels like to seek funding.

"I've gone from the B Team to the A Team, then back to the B Team, and now I am on the A Team," he said. "One year, I missed it by just a few spots and all of a sudden I had to raise $20,000."

To help these athletes reach their aspirations, learn how to donate to the B Team at http://www.ussa.org.