Letter: Grants take athletes to the next level | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Grants take athletes to the next level

I recently had the pleasure of contacting four current and six former Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club athletes to inform them they will receive $2,500 grants. Most are officially recognized on various U.S. National Teams, but even at the national team level, athletes and their families have to bear considerable expense. These grants make a big difference and are an investment in each athlete’s quest to represent AVSC, Aspen Skiing Co., the greater Aspen community and their country at the highest levels of competition around the world.

The grants are possible thanks to generous funding from Coldwell Banker Mason Morse. The inspiration for this program came through conversations with AVSC alumna Alice McKennis. Alice competed in the World Championship Downhill last week in Vail. She is sponsored by Coldwell Banker Mason Morse and shared the reality of her financial challenges. Realizing that other athletes face similar challenges, Karim Souki and Will Herndon, of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse, reached out to AVSC a year ago and committed to provide grant funding of $25,000 per year for at least three years.

AVSC has always wanted to support alumni athletes but we are routinely challenged to meet our basic scholarship demands. In fact, we have had to turn kids away this year. But the Coldwell Banker Mason Morse grants enable us to support some amazing individuals. This year’s recipients include:


Andrew Kurka, Jonathan Lujan and Melanie Schwartz. They competed at Tiehack a few weekends ago when AVSC hosted the International Paralympic Committee National Championships.


Katie Ryan — six starts in World Cup speed events this season.

Wiley Maple — who recently competed in the famed Hahnenkamm Downhill.


Alex Ferreira — on the podium again for Winter X Games Skier Halfpipe.


Simi Hamilton and Noah Hoffman — both recently named to the U. S. Nordic World Championship Team.

Hailey Swirbul — in Kazakhstan at the Nordic Junior World Championships.

Nordic Combined

Michael Ward — in Europe competing at the Continental and World Cup levels.

We receive emails and letters from our athletes showing their appreciation. Here is an example:

“I am writing you to thank you once again for recommending me for the Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Scholarship. Your efforts are helping me achieve my goals as a skier. I am currently in Minneapolis preparing for the second flight of my travel to Kazakhstan, and I am very excited to be competing at World Juniors! Thank you for helping make this opportunity a reality for me and for everything else you have done to help my ski career. I am lucky to be a part of AVSC!”


Hailey Swirbul, junior, Basalt High School.

Coldwell Banker Mason Morse has a genuine interest in seeing Aspen represented at the world’s most important ski and snowboard competitions. They also want AVSC to benefit. Grant recipients must give back to AVSC in some way. Frequently when back in Aspen, the athletes train with our programs they counsel, encourage and inspire our current athletes. Coldwell Banker Mason Morse’s support goes well beyond this program: they have provided significant funding for the Stapleton Alpine Training Center at Aspen Highlands. When the next Aspen athlete stands on a podium at a Winter Olympics, I am confident Coldwell Banker Mason Morse will have played a role in making that possible. We can all be thankful for this.

Mark Cole

Executive director, Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club

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