Ball Season began with a big old bang, raising a whopping 300k for the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding. The New England Ski and Snowboard Ball saw a record turn out at the Langham Hotel in Boston on Wednesday. Over 400 folks were on hand, mingling with A-list US Ski and Snowboard Team stars, past and present. Snowboard cross’ Seth Wescott, mogul skiers Hannah Kearney, Michael Morse, and Olympic silver medalist Travis Mayer, cross-country skier Andy Newell, paralympic champ Allison Jones, alpine skiers Julia Ford and Leanne Smith, Olympic halfpipe gold medalist turned boarder cross star Ross Powers, ski legend Billy Kidd, and the current shining star of the team, Lindsey Vonn.
We didn’t have Joan Rivers there to ask who designed her dress, but reports were Lindsey Vonn dawned a sleek, form-fitting, black dress with spaghetti straps.
Tom Kelly, VP of Communications for the USSA, busted no freestyle raps, but did MC the event. The Flying Ace Allstars wowed the audience with their trampoline aerial show of Cirque du Soleil proportions. Items up for silent bid on the showcase showdown included Ted Ligety autographed skis, a week with CMH heli skiing for two, and a ski day with Hannah Kearney.
The theme of Ball Season this year is Vancouver Bound. For any athlete to realize their Olympic dream is truly a collective effort from friends, family, and especially financial supporters. It’s no news flash to say that ski racing is not an inexpensive endeavor. That’s why the four major balls scheduled between now and November 13th are so vital in helping America’s best do what they do best.
Bob Reynolds, CEO of Putnam Investments, and Phill Gross, co-founder of Adage Capital Management, are two gentlemen that deserve special recognition in this area. The two won’t be on any podiums in Vancouver, but their financial support of the U.S. Ski Team deserves big props. The two are diehard recreation skiers, sharing a religious love of all things ski. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Gross, a big “Amen!” to you two gentlemen.
Don’t assume, though, that these gentlemen are simply writing checks. Gross is involved heavily with Youth Enrichment Services (YES) and the Boston Ski Party, two programs that have introduced thousands of inner city kids to the mountains and the joy of riding down a mountain. Three cheers to those working to broaden participation in skiing and snowboarding. One nation under snow!
The record numbers in Boston were due in large part to Gross’ idea of donors sponsoring USSA club leaders, providing the financial means for coaches from around the New England area to come to the Ball. An afternoon town hall meeting with 70 club leaders and coaches featured a panel of six world class USSA team athletes. “These guys spent an hour talking about their training routine, answering an array of questions from the importance of their club, to what to do when you get in the gate to psych yourself up,” according to Kelly.
Ball #1 is in the books! Next stop is Palo Alto and the Bay Area Ski and Snowboard Benefit, Saturday, October 17th. Vancouver Bound!