New promotion to support U.S. athletes | AspenTimes.com

New promotion to support U.S. athletes

Jon Maletz

For those fans who will be unable to travel to Italy to cheer on American athletes in February, there is a new way to help lend some financial support. The U.S. Ski Association announced its plan Monday for an inaugural U.S. Ski Team Day on Saturday, Feb. 11, a promotion at U.S. resorts to benefit the team’s athletes. Participating U.S. ski resorts and nordic centers will donate $1 from every lift ticket and trail pass to back ski team initiatives.”It’s exciting to know that skiers from coast to coast will be supporting our nation’s athletes as the Torino Games begin,” U.S. Ski Team President and CEO Bill Marolt said in a press release. “That energy will certainly help the team’s quest to be best in the world in 2006.”To date, 75 resorts, from California to Maine, have declared there support. A number of ski areas are planning to host the event one day earlier, to coincide with the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.Noticeably absent on the USSA’s initial list of participants are the Aspen Skiing Co. resorts. But much of the state has yet to get on board: Only three Colorado resorts – Arapahoe Basin, Eldora and Steamboat – have pledged their support. The Skico had been aware of the promotion through its initial discussions with the National Ski Areas Association, but chose to support U.S. skiing in other ways, company spokesman Jeff Hanle said.”The money we donate vastly exceeds what would’ve been raised [in this promotion],” Hanle said.The Skico supports the Gold Pass program, the USSA’s most lucrative fundraiser, according to a press release. Each year, the USSA mints a limited number of Gold Passes, which cost $6,000 and provide passholders with unlimited access to 260 resorts in 35 states across the country. The program raises more than $1.5 million each year, helping fund the training, development and competition needs of the country’s alpine, freestyle, nordic and disabled skiers as well as Olympic hopefuls in snowboarding.In addition, Aspen hosted three World Cup events from Dec. 9-11 – the only U.S. stop for women’s alpine racing of the 2005-06 season. Skico has committed more than $100,000 to the ski team this year, Hanle said.”What we contribute gives greater value,” Hanle said. “Hosting three World Cup races throws invaluable support behind the ski team.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com