US Freestyle Ski Team fundraiser returning to Eagle County

Edwards's Tess Johnson, left, and Jaelin Kauf celebrate after the 2019 FIS Snowboard Freestyle Freeski World Championships dual moguls in Deer Valley, Utah. Johnson is starting her sixth season with the national team.
Rick Bowmer | Associated press file photo

VAIL – Last season, before earning podium spots at the 2019 FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships, mogul skiers Tess Johnson and Jaelin Kauf put in some important training hours in a different arena of their sport — fundraising.

The two teammates helped organize a fundraiser nearby Wolcott at Red Sky Ranch in a first-year effort to try to help their team support more athletes.

“During our meeting we were talking about how to individually fundraise and tell our story, and we thought why don’t we do something as a team,” Kauf said.

The event came together with help from U.S. Ski & Snowboard Trustee Jim Benedict and his wife, Jeffy; several athletes gave speeches including Kauf and World Cup podium finisher Dylan Walczyk.

“It costs an unbelievable amount of money over the years to reach the pinnacle of this sport, and it only gets more expensive as you progress,” Walczyk told guests. “What started with weekend trips to the mountain and ski club fees is now world travel, and all the expenses that come along with that.”

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The event attracted a good showing and raised nearly $100,000, tripling the goal of $30,000.

“It was definitely a big deal, and honestly I don’t think people were expecting it to be as successful as it was,” Johnson said. “Which was really great for our program, and our sport in general.”

Johnson and Kauf said the planning for this year’s event started with the conclusion of last year’s event — this year’s fundraiser should be even better.

“The (U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation) is helping even more this year to make it more glamorous, and providing even more opportunities to raise money,” Johnson said.

The event is set for Friday, September 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. in Red Sky Ranch’s Guest Clubhouse in Wolcott. Special guests include Billy Kidd, Jeremy Bloom and Shannon Bahrke.

Kauf, who was born in Vail, and Johnson, who lives in Vail, both said Eagle County is an ideal location for the fundraiser. In 2018, half of moguls skiers on the U.S. Olympic team came through the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail program.

“I think a lot of team has some sort of connection to Vail,” Kauf said.

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