Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Soldier Mountain nabs the Nationals

Disabled championships set for March 2008

Express Staff Writer

Soldier Mountain will, for the first time, host a national championship this winter. The Hartford U.S. Disabled Ski Championship, otherwise known as "the Nationals," will be held March 3 through March 10, at the ski mountain south of the Wood River Valley near Fairfield. Soldier Mountain, the Soldier Mountain Alpine Skiing Association and Wood River Ability Program will host the event.

Marc Mast, director of WRAP, just returned to the valley with the news from Colorado where the Hartford Ski Spectacular was being held.

"I've been talking with Soldier and the US Disabled Ski Team about doing a three-day skiing camp at Soldier," Mast said. "Program Director Sandy Metzger contacted Kenny Corrock, the director of Soldier Mountain Alpine Skiing Association, about doing the Nationals. My job is to make it fun. It will be a fundraiser for WRAP. The events will be downhill, super giant slalom, giant slalom, slalom and a pro-am race with members of the U.S. and former U.S. Disabled Ski team."

Headquarters for the event will be at The Mint in Hailey, which is owned by actor Bruce Willis, as is Soldier Mountain.

There will be at least two local skiers competing: Nordic sit-skier Andy Soule and one-legged alpine skier and Ketchum resident Elitsa Storey.

Sun Valley resident Soule is the newest face on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team cross-country squad. He finished fourth in his first World Cup last season. A military veteran, Soule lost both legs in Afghanistan and took up skiing for the first time in 2005 while at one of WRAP's winter training camps.

"This will be a huge event for people who want to make the team," Mast said. "It's a chance to make their mark."

Hartford will bring people in for a convention to be held at the same time. It will precede by one week the Jeep King of the Mountain Ski Tour's final stop in Sun Valley, making the first three weeks of March a lively and sports-infused period of time in the area.

"This community has given a lot to the disabled," Mast said. "Now we can give back. The athletes are going to speak at the schools."

Volunteers will be needed in various jobs including as drivers, gatekeepers, at banquets, and in the pro-am race. A lot of people come without their own coaches, so people who are familiar with racing will be needed to help in that capacity as well.

Mast said committees will be formed soon. AmericInn in Hailey will be where most of the 50 to 70 athletes will stay.

"We want to make it a fun event and make people aware of the abilities of people with disabilities," Mast said.

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