Aspen ski club has its day in the sun |

Aspen ski club has its day in the sun

ASPEN – The 2009-10 ski season unofficially began Wednesday under bluebird skies when hundreds took to Aspen Mountain to benefit the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.

It had been three years since AVSC was given its own day on Aspen Mountain as a fundraising opportunity. The last AVSC day, held the day before the official start to the 2006-07 season, raised approximately $10,000 for the club, according to Alan Cole, the organization’s marketing and development manager.

Whether AVSC gets its day is weather dependent – either too little snow or too much snow are primary factors. If it’s the latter, the Skico sometimes elects to open the mountain to the general public early.

“We mostly rely on the good graces of the Skico,” Cole said, adding the tradition has been around since at least 2000.

“We don’t count on this but if it happens, it’s wonderful,” he said. “We’re psyched Mother Nature cooperated this year. It’s icing on the cake.”

Rich Burkley, vice president of mountain operations for the Skico, said he presented the latest conditions to the company’s executive committee on Monday. The committee agreed to not open early.

“So we gave the man his day,” Burkley said.

Tickets were $35 for adults and $15 for children under 15 years old. Proceeds go toward AVSC’s general operating expenses, Cole said, adding 75 cents of every dollar goes toward the club’s programs.

About 40 percent of AVSC’s $3.2 million budget comes from fundraising; the rest is generated by programming fees from the approximate 1,910 participants.

Last year, AVSC handed out 550 scholarships to kids whose parents were facing economic constraints and wouldn’t otherwise have been able to ski or snowboard. Those scholarships amounted to a $215,000 expense for AVSC.

“Three out of 10 kids received scholarships, or 30 percent,” Cole said.

Cole said AVSC kept program fees for this season the same as last year, recognizing the tough economy. He noted that fundraising is up over last year at this time – donations fell off in August of 2008 when the financial crisis occurred.

AVSC was established in 1937 by a group of ski bums who cut Roch Run on Aspen Mountain. Decades later, AVSC supporters and participants continue to enjoy the mountain in which the organization got its start.

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