Ski legends gather for fund-raiser |

Ski legends gather for fund-raiser

Veronica Whitney
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyChris Canfield of the United States rounds the third gate during the U.S. Disabled Alpine Championship downhill Thursday on Golden Peak in Vail.

VAIL – Skiers who’ve dreamed of sharing the hill with the likes of Picabo Street’s could get their chance on Vail Mountain this weekend.Olympic gold medalist Street and other ski legends will take part in the largest fundraiser ever to benefit the U.S. Disabled Ski Team -also known as USDST. People can hit the slopes with an all-star team that includes Street and fellow Olympians Pam Fletcher and Chad Fleisher.SkiTAM, an annual fundraising event of the Cable Telecommunications and Marketing Society’s Rocky Mountain Chapter, will celebrate its 10th anniversar Thursday through Sunday in Vail. The event already has raised more than $3 million since the program’s debut in 1996. “The fundraiser contributes half of the operation budget for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team,” said Joanne Dant, the event’s spokeswoman. “As the single largest source of support, funds raised by the annual SkiTAM event allow USDST athletes to train and compete throughout the ski season.” Last year, the event raised more than $400,000, Dant said, while noting that the U.S. Disabled Ski Team has had a banner year.

“The USDST is coming off an awesome World Cup season, in which the Alpine team won the Nations Cup at Klosters, Switzerland in February, and garnered numerous individual World Cup victories,” Dant said. U.S. skiers also won five World Cup titles as Laurie Stephens swept all four sit-skier events and Chris Devlin-Young claimed the men’s sit-skier super G championship. The U.S. Disabled Cross Country Team also had a number of World Cup victories, including Steve Cook’s cross country World Cup title. Skiers also shone at the U.S. Disabled Alpine Championships, held in March at Golden Peak in Vail. But no matter how well they perform, Dant said, it’s hard for the athletes to get sponsors.”They don’t have as much exposure as able-body skiers,” she said.

With more than 700 attendees, SkiTAM will offer participants the opportunity to mix and mingle with U.S. Disabled Ski Team athletes and coaches.SkiTAM’s premiere event is a dual slalom race in which amateur adult racers compete alongside disabled ski team athletes. The event will also feature Street, 1998 Olympic gold medalist in Super G and 1994 Olympic silver medalist in downhill; Pam Fletcher, another Olympian and 1986 World Cup Downhill Champion and six-time U.S. National Champion; and two-time Olympian Chad Fleisher, two-time National Downhill Champion.

Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or Vail, Colorado

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