AVSC skier gives back by skiing more | AspenTimes.com

AVSC skier gives back by skiing more

If Colt Whitley wanted to continue to ski, he had to get a summer job.

That's about the time Whitley, now a sophomore at Aspen High School, found out how expensive the sport is.

"My parents make me pay for 10 percent of my skiing," Whitley said. "It's hard to afford. I don't want other kids not to be able to do it and enjoy it if they love it. I wanted to help because I knew the scholarship program helped me a ton."

Whitley, a homegrown Nordic skier for AHS as well as the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, took his parents' lesson to heart by creating "Project Ski More" this winter. The premise is simple: "The more Colt skis, the more other kids can ski."

Whitley launched Project Ski More right after Christmas. Basically, for every kilometer he skis this winter, people donate a certain amount of money. Every penny Whitley raises goes back to the AVSC's scholarship fund, which supports all kids in the program, regardless of discipline.

His first major donations came from his grandparents.

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"It's been really well received and it's kind of cool," Whitley said. "I just knew I wanted to help other kids ski. So I don't have a goal for funds to raise. I just want to raise as much as I can."

As of early Saturday, Whitley had skied 720 kilometers and raised $3,389.40, according to http://www.projectskimore.com.

He's been a cross-country skier since he was an infant when his parents would put him on their backs while they'd go out. He's trained with the AVSC since kindergarten, and has developed into quite the talent. As of last week, he ranked among the top two in the Rocky Mountain division and was ranked top 25 in the nation.

Whitley is qualified to compete in his second-consecutive junior nationals, which takes place the first week of March in Lake Placid, New York. He'll also compete with the high school when it heads to the state championships in Steamboat Springs on Feb. 23-24.

"Nordic is never an easy sport. It's all about learning your boundaries and seeing how far you can go and that feeling of accomplishment when you do something super hard," Whitley said of why he enjoys cross-country skiing. "My big goal next year is to make junior worlds, which is hard. And my goal for the project is to get more skiers in next year and potentially more clubs the year after and just keep on expanding it."

Whitley invites people to visit the website to donate. The project also has a Facebook page and Instagram account, found by searching "Project Ski More."

Suunto and Salomon have each chipped in to make Project Ski More possible.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

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