Vail Today: Blue Sky Cup returns to Vail for sixth year (video) |

Vail Today: Blue Sky Cup returns to Vail for sixth year (video)

Vail Today's Tricia Swenson, left, talks about the Blue Sky Cup with event co-founder Hayden Fisher.
Rob Prechtl | Special to the Daily |

Sometimes, a big idea can come from just a simple thought on a chairlift. In 2012, Hayden Fisher decided to ski 40,000 vertical feet for his 40th birthday. After accomplishing his goal, Fisher and longtime friend and fellow Colorado resident Jim Nollsch decided to turn this fun day on the slopes into a fundraiser and created the Blue Sky Cup.

The Blue Sky Cup is held each winter on Vail Mountain, and its goal is to raise money and awareness for arthritis. At first, the goal was to get 40 people to try to ski 40,000 vertical feet. Now, they have more than 100 participants and aim for 60,000 vertical feet per person.

The cause hits close to home for Nollsch, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in his 30s. This affliction runs in his family; his father and grandmother also had rheumatoid arthritis. It’s this personal connection that led them to supporting arthritis research.

“I’m thankful that the medicine I take allows me to continue to do what I love,” Nollsch said. “But for many people, this is not the case, and the best way we can help is to support research to find new treatments and a cure.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 52.5 million, or 1 out of 5 Americans report doctor-diagnosed arthritis. The CDC also states that an estimated 300,000 of those diagnosed with various forms of arthritis are kids.

Proceeds from the Blue Sky Cup go directly to funding rheumatoid arthritis research through the Arthritis National Research Foundation.

“We rely solely on private donations to fund our cutting-edge arthritis research projects around the country,” said Derek Belisle, marketing director for the Arthritis National Research Foundation. “Events like the Blue Sky Cup and people like Jim and Hayden are critical in providing the funding needed to support these important research projects towards finding a cure.”

To find out more about the Blue Sky Cup, visit