As a competitor, the Visa Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort was always a thrilling but incredibly busy week. The venue is the best on the circuit and the accommodations, the food and the crowd are unsurpassed. However, the pressure of back to back competitions on home soil was usually exasperated by media obligations and a family member or two, or ten, in attendance. This year represented just my second year as a spectator, in contrast to the 21 times I competed on Deer Valley’s Champion course, which doesn’t even include the time I got to forerun the 2002 Olympics as a high school sophomore. I assumed that, as a retired athlete, the World Cup weekend would be far less eventful. I was wrong!
This year I participated in U.S. Ski & Snowboard's Ice Men weekend and I had a blast! It was a ski weekend done right. By donating generously to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Foundation, approximately 20 gentlemen got to ski, drink, eat and learn all weekend long. I met up with the gang at 9 a.m. sharp on Friday morning so that we could get on the first chair. I took a group interested in earning their lunch by burning calories in the bumps. It was wonderful to meet a group of men who have been supporting the Team for years. It was my chance to say thank you for the funding that allowed me to achieve my athletic goals and pursue perfection in the moguls, which I’m sad to report may not be possible! In junction with the Gold Pass program, the funds from the Ice Men weekend support the athletes by providing them with coaches, physical therapists, strength trainers, sports psychologists, nutritionists and a sport science staff. Basically, the athletes’ army is funded by individual donations. I know that I took advantage of all the U.S. Ski & Snowboard resources that I could while I was training to be the best mogul skier I could. The support is critical and I am grateful. During a magnificent lunch of fondue and Weiner schnitzel, we were all treated to an inspiring presentation about what goes on behind the scene to produce champion athletes and Olympic medals. Think Cirque de Soleil partnerships, ski simulation machines, data mining, and virtual reality.
Hopefully I’ve enticed you to get involved. Do you like to ski? Would you like to ski with some former Olympians while supporting future Olympians and being treated to spectacular meals, endless vertical and free flowing wine during the most exciting freestyle world cup of the season? If so, Ice Men might be the perfect fit for you. See you out there next year, while athletes battle for the right to represent the United States at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in February. Your support means the most during the critical prep period, before Team USA takes on the world! Thank you.