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Ski & tee

Staff Reports

On Thursday, Jan. 10, just days before the opening of the 2002 U.S. Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, downhill and super-G ski racer Chad Fleischer of Vail was gracefully carving through his final practice run on the Lauberhorn course in Wengen, Switzerland, preparing himself for the biggest challenge of his career.The final leg of the run, dubbed the train tunnel, is a technically demanding turn that requires precision balance and exact muscular coordination for the skier to maintain speed and gain acceleration.Coming through the tunnel at speeds sports car drivers would be envious of, Fleischer’s body clipped the side of an embankment, throwing him off balance and sending him careening towards the fence that would be the scene of the worst skiing injury Fleischer sustained in over nearly a decade of professional competition. His right leg, still dangerously attached to a ski, bent almost 90 degrees in the direction it’s not supposed to bend, leaving Fleischer with a shattered knee that completely severed every ligament and tendon of the joint. The opening of the Winter Olympics was just a few days away.Reflecting on the scene of the injury from his home in Vail, Fleischer is remarkably good-natured and optimistic, even laughing through parts of the gritty details.”The turn was actually not that treacherous, but it’s a key turn of the race. It’s actually THE turn of the race. It ultimately determines where you place. I actually skied it too well. Usually, you account for a certain amount of drift in a turn, but I didn’t drift at all. The way I was inclined, I hit my shoulder on the ice embankment. It was one of those fluke things I would never bet was possible.”The injury, which Fleischer’s doctor described as easily the worst knee injury he had ever seen, left Fleischer hospitalized for weeks, providing ample time to agonize over missed opportunities, misfortune, and regrets. Instead of submitting to negativity, Fleischer tried to make something positive come out of the experience.”I had been in the hospital for a number of days, not doing anything. I decided that, instead of focusing on my injury, focusing solely on me, I wanted to spend time making a difference in the children’s lives of the community. What athletics did for me growing up was absolutely positive. I wanted to share that with as many young people as possible.”Golf for a causeFrom that philosophy, the idea for the Ski and Tee event was born. And now, a year and a half after his accident, Fleischer is getting ready for the second annual Chad Fleischer Ski and Tee Weekend.Taking place between Friday, April 18 and Sunday, April 20, the Ski and Tee weekend is a sunny way for Vail Mountain to close the last weekend of its season. The event, hosted by the Colorado Ski Museum and Ski Club Vail, is unique in its combination of events, drawing from the two favorite pastimes of Eagle county skiing and golfing.Participants in the Ski and Tee weekend will be awarded prizes based on performances in both events. Each 4-person team is given points in the skiing segment of the competition based on the average of the fastest time through the course and in the golf segment based on the average of lowest scores. The team with the highest number of points across both events wins the tournament. The entrance fee for the event is $30 per person and all proceeds will go towards scholarships for youth ski programs as well as benefit the Colorado Ski Museum and Ski Club Vail. Interested parties call the Colorado Ski Museum at 476-1876 for information and registration.Additional events include an auction that could put a ski or golf pro on the winning bidder’s 4-man team, a silent auction for items that will include Fleischer’s personal memorabilia, and a separate skiing event called the Mad Mountain Marathon that will allow both kids and adults to compete together in a slalom course on the Simba trail in Lionshead.There will also be activities throughout the weekend for kids only, including an Easter egg painting booth, and an Easter egg hunt at the Cotton Ranch golf course in Gypsum. These children’s events are offered free of charge.Fleischer has had a total of 11 knee surgeries and has spent countless hours in rehabilitation training. Although he has yet to resume competition, he has been able to ski recreationally with family and friends, and plans to be fully recovered and in shape for the 2006 Olympics. The Chad Fleischer Ski and Tee Weekend is a way for Vail families to give support to their greatest athlete and support an important cause.SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:Friday, April 18, 6 9 p.m.: Registration Party, auction for ski and golf pros, silent auction for items, Club Chelsea, Vail VillageSaturday, April 19, 9:30 a.m.: Giant Slalom race for Ski and Tee competitionSaturday, April 19, 10 a.m.: Mad Mountain Marathon race, LionsheadSaturday, April 19, 1 6 p.m.: Award Ceremony for Mad Mountain Marathon Race, Kaltenburg Castle, Vail Village. Guest appearances by ski celebrities, Denver Broncos cheerleadersSunday, April 20, 9:30 a.m.: Shotgun start for Ski and Tee competition, Cotton Ranch, GypsumSunday, April 20, 1:30 p.m.: Awards Ceremony with Luncheon, Trophy Presentation-Matthew Charles


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