A gold medalist with a golden heart
VAIL – Google the name Ross Powers. The top result isn’t a Wikipedia entry or a site that gives you up-to-the-second news of his accomplishments.What you’ll find is a link to the snowboarder’s foundation.
And as quickly as you can navigate to the site, you can strike up a conversation with the Olympic gold-medalist boarder get a sense of just how genuine he is.”One of my goals in life is to grow (the foundation) to help out kids and give everyone a fair chance,” Powers said Saturday, on the deck of Garfinkel’s in Vail. “It feels really good.”Powers, who the first American to win a snowboarding medal in the Olympics (a bronze in 1998) knows how lucky he was just to get the chance to ride when he was younger.”I just grew up with my mom and my brother, and luckily my mom worked at a ski area, so that’s how I got into snowboarding,” Powers said. “I probably wouldn’t have had a chance otherwise.”Early on in his career, Powers kept his eye out for those less fortunate than himself.”A boy I kind of grew up riding with … he needed some help after some family stuff happened, so I gave him money so he could go to the snowboarding and ski academy I went to,” Powers said. “After that, some people heard about that and said, ‘If you are doing that kind of stuff, maybe you should start up a foundation.'”Along with his agent Peter Carlisle, Powers formed his namesake foundation.
There’s no doubt that Powers’ performance in the pipe has left a mark on snowboarding history. Following his bronze Olympic medal in Nagano, Japan, he went on to take the gold at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002 with a run that included an 18-foot method grab.”That year there were so many good riders,” Powers said. “Anyone could have won. To pull it off – it was perfect weather, the pipe was awesome, I did the biggest air, my family was there – it was the perfect day snowboarding for me.”Powers is also allowing other great potential boarders to make it onto the scene for their own piece of history. Some of the boarders who have benefited from Powers’ foundation include Michael Goldschmidt and Danny Davis.”I helped (Danny) out for a bit, now he’s one of the stars,” Powers said. “It feels pretty good. Even if it’s kids getting to smaller events.”
While parents asked Powers to sign autographs for their kids, Powers talked about what it’s like for him to be a family man.”Before it was snowboarding, and now it’s family and snowboarding,” said Powers, who is excepting a second child with his wife this summer.Earlier Saturday, Powers hit the hill with his daughter Victoria, and will be giving a lesson to the winner of a drawing later this week.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.