Ski Spectacular Brings Speed to the Slopes

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Youth racer Alex Tomaszewski attacks the slalom course at DS/USA's National Race FestivalPhotograph courtesy of Reed Hoffman.

At Colorado's Breckenridge Ski Resort, it's not surprising to encounter speed. Some of the top snowsports athletes in the country can be found schussing on its slopes, which have hosted the Snowboarder Hall of Fame and a 2005 World Cup Race. Once per year, however, some of the resort's slickest tracks are in surprising configurations—single ski tracks flanked by the thin twin lines of outriggers, and the deep single and double tracks of mono- and bi-skis. From December 613, Breckenridge's Beaver Run Resort was again home to the annual The Hartford Ski Spectacular, hosted by Disabled Sports USA (DS/USA). Then, on December 1415, DS/USA also brought in the nation's best adaptive skiers for a series of qualifying races for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

"The Hartford Ski Spectacular has a long-standing tradition of introducing disabled athletes to skiing—from those taking to the slopes for the first time to those vying for a chance to represent the country at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games," said DS/USA Executive Director Kirk Bauer. The Ski Spectacular, which attracted more than 700 participants, brought together Wounded Warriors, families who have children with disabilities, people who were newly injured, and elite athletes from around the country. Newcomers to adaptive sports, mentors with years of experience, and future certified adaptive instructors all enjoyed the camaraderie of people on the same learning curves.

Now in its fifth year, the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project, a partnership between DS/USA and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), coordinated part of the programming and saw that more than 100 Wounded Warriors, their families, and hospital staff participated in the Ski Spectacular's Learn-to-Ski, Learn-to-Race, and mentoring programs.

"The Hartford Ski Spectacular's racing camp provides instruction from the nation's best coaches and support from current members of the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team," said Charlie Huebner, chief of Paralympics, U.S. Olympic Committee. The racing camp served as a lead-in to the slalom and giant-slalom Paralympic qualifying races at the December 1415 National Race Festival. The festival served not only as a gateway to the next winter Paralympics but also allowed aspiring young racers and Wounded Warriors of all abilities to advance their skills alongside the best disabled racers and coaches in the country.

"It is incredibly motivating for our younger racers and learn-to-ski participants to watch athletes who once participated in The Hartford Ski Spectacular advance to compete at the elite levels of the sport," Bauer said.

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First Volley Scores $10K USTA Grant

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The Orthotic and Prosthetic Assistance Fund and The First Clinics have been awarded a $10,000 grant from USTA Serves, the philanthropic arm of the United States Tennis Association (USTA). This is the third time in four years that First Volley has been a grant recipient from this division of the USTA.

According to OPAF, the grant will fund four to eight First Volley clinics across the country for patients of Shriners Hospital for Children, amputees, and those with physical challenges who wish to try their tennis skills with certified professional instructors.

"We are so honored to have been selected again by USTA Serves as a recipient of one of their grants," said Robin Burton, OPAF executive director. "These funds will allow Shriners kids to learn or re-learn tennis skills and drills and get them involved in an active lifestyle again."

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