World-class athletes race for Wells Fargo Cup kudos at Winter Park | SkyHiNews.com

World-class athletes race for Wells Fargo Cup kudos at Winter Park

Cyndi McCoy
cmccoy@skyhidailynews.com
Grand County, Colorado

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News File Photo

Having already overcome obstacles in their lives, many disabled athletes are ready for another challenge.

An event offering just that is the 34th Annual Wells Fargo Cup, this weekend at Winter Park Resort. The benefit event is brought to the Fraser Valley through the National Sports Center for the Disabled.

Starting today world-class disabled ski racers and amateur skiers and snowboarders of all abilities gather for several days of activities. Competitors in the Pro Am Governor’s Cup race pull together teams of five to compete for bragging rights and cash prizes.

Disabled skiers will also compete head-to-head on parallel courses during the World Disabled Invitational, the highlight of the Cup weekend. The top 40 physically disabled racers (rated by IPCAS points) will compete in a giant slalom race.

Top names from the Front Range, including several Denver Broncos alumni, are also scheduled to be in attendance. The Celebrity “Smackdown” Challenge is said to be one of the most entertaining events of the festivities. Celebrities and former football stars will make their way down the race course in support of the NSCD. Stars will include former Denver Broncos Billy Thompson, Rich Karlis and Jim Jensen; as well as Apprentice TV show season winner Stefani Schaeffer and Channel 9 sports anchor Susie Wargin.

Other races on the schedule include a Corporate Cup and Kids Snowplow Sprint.

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As in years past, the NSCD has commissioned a disabled artist to capture the excitement of the event in a work available for bid at the auction (open to the public). This year Uzi Buzgalo, who was born deaf, created a vibrant and whimsical piece called “Unlimited Ability” for the benefit.

The NSCD began in 1970 as a one-time ski lesson for children with amputations for the Children’s Hospital of Denver. Today it is one of the largest outdoor therapeutic recreation organizations in the world.

Every year since, thousands of snow enthusiasts with disabilities (kids and adults alike) take to the slopes, mountains and golf courses to learn about the sports. In turn, volunteers say, they learn a little bit about themselves as well.

Trained staff members and volunteers teach a variety of seasonal sports and activities throughout the year in the Fraser Valley. More than 23,000 lessons were taken in 2008 alone. The NSCD is excited about its new satellite office in Kansas City, Mo., and now hosts programs in eight other cities in America.

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