Orlando, FL – The journey of the 17 U.S. skiers and snowboarders who won Olympic medals in Vancouver was long, starting at their local resorts. Olympic champion Hannah Kearney, who grew up skiing at New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley, has brought her gold medal to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) convention in Orlando to say, “thank you.”nKearney is attending the May 2-6 meeting at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, giving out posters to attendees and signing autographs today.
“I was thinking recently about the long journey I’ve had from my early days skiing for fun to my first competitions and onto the medals stand in Vancouver,” says Kearney, who had another dream come true recently when she threw out a first pitch at a Boston Red Sox game. “To reach my own goal took a lot of support from my family, friends, coaches and ski industry leaders who introduce kids to the sport at your local area.
“I just want to say, ‘thank you!'”
The hundreds of NSAA ski resorts nationwide play many roles in the success of U.S. Olympians. “Local areas are essential to our athletic pipeline, providing a playing field for our 425 U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) clubs,” said USSA Vice President, Athletics Luke Bodensteiner. “They play a key role in the success of athletes like Hannah, and can be proud of the role they’ve played in the success of our team in Vancouver.”
Elite athletic programs also get a boost from the NSAA/U.S. Ski Team Gold Pass. Included with the Team’s Summit Club fundraising program, the fully-transferable unlimited lift pass is one of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team’s largest money raisers for a Team that gets no government support.
NSAA ski resorts also played a major role in the lead up to the Olympics, with qualifying events held at nine areas – some with as many as 20,000 spectators and all with national television coverage on NBC and Versus.
Alpine World Cup skiing events took place at both Aspen and Beaver Creek in Colorado, while the Colorado community of Steamboat Springs played host to the freestyle skiing and nordic combined Olympic Trials. Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix events were held at Colorado’s Copper Mountain, Mammoth Mountain in California, and Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. Telluride, Colo., hosted snowboardcross and parallel giant slalom World Cups. Utah’s Deer Valley Resort and the Olympic village of Lake Placid, N.Y., held freestyle skiing World Cups.
“Every resort that hosts a USSA club, holds USSA competitions or supports the Gold Pass makes a difference for us as athletes,” says Kearney. “It means a lot to us!”