Audi Ajax Cup supports AVSC programs | AspenTimes.com

Audi Ajax Cup supports AVSC programs

Special to The Aspen Times

Just four years old this December, the Audi Ajax Cup has the feel of a well-entrenched Aspen event.

Sponsorship of the 14 race teams sold out – at $25,000 each – months ago.

Actor Antonio Banderas committed to hosting the event within hours of the conclusion of last year's après-ski party.

And organizers continue to tweak the party – which famously puts the "fun" back in fund-raiser – in order to make each incarnation a little better.

This year, the Audi Ajax Cup (Sunday-Monday, Dec. 29-30) includes a day-long party that's a nice add-on to the après-ski party pass. For $350 per ticket, guests will enjoy a VIP viewing deck at the new Zeno's restaurant (former site of Il Mulino), where drinks and appetizers will be served from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. After that, it's time for the après-race party, which continues until 6 p.m., at the St. Regis Resort. Tickets may be purchased through Teamavsc.org.

Fundraising and sport

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"The Ajax Cup is arguably one of the most important fixtures on (AVSC)'s calendar," said Marc Ganzi, event co-chair. "It's always great when we can combine fundraising and sport together."

The sport portion gets under way about 10 a.m. Dec. 30 on the Little Nell racecourse. Teams race head-to-head in elimination rounds before continuing on to the finals, which should start after 2 p.m.

Spectators are invited to watch from the side of the course or the action may be viewed from a Jumbotron at the base.

Last year, the Ajax Cup raised more than $250,000 for Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club scholarships and programming.

top of the podium

John and Jackie Bucksbaum have fielded a team every year for the event.

"We have yet to be victorious," John said with a hearty laugh. But after runner-up honors twice, what about this year?

Members of the AVSC National Council, John is following the role model provided by his father, the late Matthew Bucksbaum, who passed away last month at the age of 87, and his mom, Kay Bucksbaum. The family has provided critical support over the years to the Aspen Music Festival, Lyric Opera and University of Chicago.

"There are many wonderful organizations in Aspen. To me, the Music Festival, the ski club and the Aspen Institute, those are the foundations that modern-day Aspen was founded on," John Bucksbaum said.

While a long-time supporter of skiing and ski racing, Bucksbaum said he was inspired by Bob Beattie's example of "giving kids the opportunity to participate in winter sports that otherwise wouldn't be able to."

Beattie, Brooke Peterson and Charif Souki were instrumental in forming the Aspen Supports Kids learn-to-ski program that has since evolved into AVSC's wildly popular Base Camp. This season, more than 1,700 youth in the greater Roaring Fork Valley are enrolled in Base Camp.

Access to skiing and boarding

But the sport hasn't always been that accessible to local kids, something that hit Bucksbaum hard.

"That was the driving force to get me involved," he said.

So, too, was the template set by his parents. "The impact that my folks have had on things there…we are very proud of that. It was a real example, for me, in terms of why I feel an allegiance for the ski club."

And the fringe benefit of their work is a day of great entertainment that's found outside the normal strictures of a typical fund-raiser.

"I find the Ajax Cup to be the most fun day of the year that I spend on the mountain," Bucksbaum said.