Vail Olympian Tess Johnson donates rice won in World Cup competition |

Vail Olympian Tess Johnson donates rice won in World Cup competition

John LaConte
Vail Daily
Olympian Tess Johnson gives Jason Pratt a t-shirt from the Olympics in South Korea while stopping by the Salvation Army to donate rice she won in competition in Japan on Monday, April 16, in Avon. Pratt was ecstatic for the gift of the shirt.
Chris Dillmann |

AVON — Vail skier Tess Johnson won 60 pounds of rice in a World Cup competition in Japan in March.

Now back home, Johnson spent Monday afternoon at the Salvation Army, bagging up the rice into quart-sized bags for local families.

Johnson, 17, spent much of the ski season in Asia, competing in China in December, the Olympics in South Korea in February and a World Cup event in Japan in March.

Her best results came after the Olympics, when she won a dual moguls competition on the Tazawako course in Japan.

“They gave me a nice check, a medal and three 20-pound bags of rice,” she said.

Regular recipients of quart bags full of rice from the Salvation Army may notice a difference in quality.

“It’s supposed to be the best rice in Japan,” Johnson said. “I’m keeping one bag to cook with my friends.”


Jason Pratt, a Special Olympian from Vail, has been bagging up rice at the Salvation Army for the past decade.

“We have a regular donor who brings us large bags, and Jason divides them up into smaller portions,” said Tsu Wolin-Brown, with the Salvation Army in Avon.

Pratt and Johnson worked diligently, pausing for the occasional hug break.

Jason Pratt’s mother, Donna Pratt, said the experience was a rewarding one for Jason.

The Pratts moved to Vail from Iowa in the early 1980s. At the time, there was not a lot of opportunity for locals who were eligible to compete in the Special Olympics. Donna Pratt and Jason’s sisters, Jodi and Annie, started a training program in Vail.

“We trained volunteers and they would work with our athletes,” Donna Pratt said.

When Jason Pratt was 16, his participation in the Special Olympics paved the way for him to meet President Gerald Ford.

“They wanted any Special Olympics athletes who were here to come to the tree lighting in Vail, so we took Jason,” Donna Pratt said.

It’s an experience she looked back on as Jason worked with Johnson on Monday.

“Living here, you get to see a lot of interesting people that otherwise you’d only read about,” Donna Pratt said.


Johnson is a senior at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, currently on spring break.

In addition to volunteering and finishing classes at the Vail Mountain School, her other major focus right now is the remainder of the season with the Vail Mountain School soccer team, which recruits kids from Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.

Johnson’s team won state both her freshman and sophomore year; now, as a senior, the road to the championship will be much more difficult. The season started while Johnson was at the Olympics; since returning, she’s competed in three games.

“It’s going to be a dogfight just making it to the playoffs this year,” Johnson said.