Vail Olympian Tess Johnson donates rice won in World Cup competition in Japan to Salvation Army
AVON — Vail skier Tess Johnson won 60 pounds of rice in a World Cup competition in Japan in March.
Now back home, Johnson spent Monday afternoon, April 16, at the Salvation Army, bagging up the rice into quart-sized bags for local families.
Johnson, 17, spent much of the ski season in Asia, competing in China in December, the Olympics in South Korea in February and a World Cup event in Japan in March.
Her best results came after the Olympics, when she won a dual moguls competition on the Tazawako course in Japan.
“They gave me a nice check, a medal and three 20-pound bags of rice,” she said.
Regular recipients of quart bags full of rice from the Salvation Army may notice a difference in quality.
“It’s supposed to be the best rice in Japan,” Johnson said. “I’m keeping one bag to cook with my friends.”
OLYMPIAN AND SPECIAL OLYMPIAN
Jason Pratt, a Special Olympian from Vail, has been bagging up rice at the Salvation Army for the past decade.
“We have a regular donor who brings us large bags, and Jason divides them up into smaller portions,” said Tsu Wolin-Brown, with the Salvation Army in Avon.
Pratt and Johnson worked diligently, pausing for the occasional hug break.
Jason Pratt’s mother, Donna Pratt, said the experience was a rewarding one for Jason.
The Pratts moved to Vail from Iowa in the early 1980s. At the time, there was not a lot of opportunity for locals who were eligible to compete in the Special Olympics. Donna Pratt and Jason’s sisters, Jodi and Annie, started a training program in Vail.
“We trained volunteers and they would work with our athletes,” Donna Pratt said.
When Jason Pratt was 16, his participation in the Special Olympics paved the way for him to meet President Gerald Ford.
“They wanted any special Olympics athletes who were here to come to the tree lighting in Vail, so we took Jason,” Donna Pratt said.
It’s an experience she looked back on as Jason worked with Johnson on Monday.
“Living here, you get to see a lot of interesting people that otherwise you’d only read about,” Donna Pratt said.
MAY 5 MATCHUP
Johnson is a senior at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, currently on spring break.
In addition to volunteering and finishing school, her other major focus right now is soccer.
Johnson’s team won state both her freshman and sophomore year; now, as a senior, the road to the championship will be much more difficult.
The season started while Johnson was at the Olympics; since returning, she’s competed in three games.
“It’s going to be a dog fight just making it to playoffs this year,” Johnson said.
Johnson plays for the Vail Mountain School soccer team, which recruits kids from Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.
After dominating their division in Johnson’s first two years, they were bumped up into a more difficult division last season.
“It’s tougher but it’s better for us because we play more challenging teams,” Johnson said. “I’m having a lot of fun this season.”
The season will culminate with a rare local match — Vail Mountain School versus Battle Mountain High School. Local soccer fans (as well as local Tess Johnson fans) won’t want to miss the game, scheduled for 6 p.m. at Battle Mountain High School on Saturday, May 5.
“I’m really looking forward to that one,” Johnson said. “We should know after that game if we made the playoffs.”
In terms of area, it’s the county’s smallest conservation deal ever. In terms of location, it’s one of the county’s rarest acquisitions.