Mammoth Invitational Celebrates Community Foundation with A-List Skiers and Plenty of Powder

Posted By: The Ski Channel on April 16, 2012 2:39 pm

The Fourth Annual Mammoth Invitational event this weekend, April 12-15, 2012, brought together proud Mammoth natives and elite international skiers in celebration of the mountains’ efforts to support the community and its children.  Activities included the Biathlon race, Heroes + Kids afternoon, a silent auction valued at over $1,000,000, and the Family Fun Cup Race.  32 inches of fresh snow prepared the attendees for a promising week of top-notch skiing, while supporting the Mammoth Mountain Community Foundation (MMCF).  
The Mammoth Invitational is the signature event and major funding source for the MMCF, whose mission is to connect the extended Mammoth community, two children at a time, through support of education, athletics, and outdoor activities. With a high school drop-out rate in California of 18% and ongoing budget constraints and hardships, ensuring education is a top priority for the organization. Currently, more than 900 student-athletes benefit from various MMCF programs. 

Woolly, the Mammoth mascot, fit for the occasion all in white. Photo: Shannon Marie Quirk

Over the weekend, many all-star skiers showed their support by participating in the exciting activities.  Whether racing in the Biathlon, participating as a coach, or meeting their fans during the Heroes and Kids day, the professionals brought the party to life.

US Ski Team member and Mammoth girl, Stacey Cook, took a 1st place finish for the female participants at the first leg of the Biathlon. A 10-year Veteran of the US Ski Team, Olympic Team member and World Cup competitor, Cook recognizes the value the programs at Mammoth conferred to her.  As such, Cook has become an outspoken supporter of MMCF in hopes of spreading the word and providing additional support for Southern California’s youths.

In a moving speech to the crowd at the Mammoth Invitational Banquet and Awards Ceremony, Cook expressed her gratitude for such powerful community support, and highlighted other successful skiers that were raised in the incredible Mammoth environment.

Olympian snowboarder and X Games gold medalist, Kelly Clark, was the lone snowboarder in the mix, representing for her sport. Her competitive edge and unparalleled consistency brought her two race times to less than a 1/100 second differential, contributing to a 2nd place team overall in the Biathlon as a result. Team Snowboarders took to the stage to accept the award on behalf of the many Mammoth shredders in the community.

Clark, well-known for boosting out of the Mammoth Superpipe, is a decorated champion who has redefined female athletics and has literally pushed the sport to new heights. Her role in action sports inspires many female athletes on the mountain today to stay focused and work hard to achieve their goals. Clark was joined by Mammoth Team member Gabe Taylor, a talented pro snowboarder happy to enjoy the weekend of powder in good company and support a great cause.

A powder-white snowfall on Saturday made for some epic April conditions at Mammoth. Photo: Shannon Marie Quirk

No one could miss extreme-skiing pioneer, Glen Plake.  Sporting his trademark Mohawk, Plake greeted fans and supporters all night with a smile. His participation at the Mammoth Invitational climaxed during the silent auction, when a special Chamonix ski trip with Plake sold for over $61,000.  While the lucky winner undoubtedly purchased the trip of a lifetime, no one lost site of the facts that the generous donation will support the MMCF and benefit hundreds of young athletes.

Glen’s wife, Kimberley Plake, was also in attendance.  Talking to The Ski Channel, she said she was especially excited for Sunday’s bluebird forecast, as it would perfectly showcase her husband’s stylish hairdo. The lovely couple are proud supporters of  Mammoth community projects and recognize the importance of community outreach.

Glen Plake and joyful team celebrate results of the Mammoth Invitational Biathlon. Photo: Shannon Marie Quirk

Chairman and CEO of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Rusty Gregory, took to center stage to explain the importance of supporting  children on and off the mountain:  ”MMCF provides funds for academic and athletic programs that are designed to bring kids together at school, in sports and on Mammoth Mountain to learn, compete, and bring families together to share their experiences as a community.”  

In an exclusive interview with The Ski Channel, Gregory expressed his excitement for the event’s continued success, as ski moguls from around the world gathered in support.  In response to a question about 2012  initiatives Gregory explained, “We are re-purposing the ski race building as a Center of Excellence [and] are bringing local kids in for the athletic program which is being integrated with the Mammoth public schools.  Extending the invitation to children elsewhere in California is very exciting.”

Mammoth Invitational, April 14, 2012. Photo: Shannon Marie Quirk

To date, MMCF has spent around $300,000 on children’s programs and has directly assisted hundreds of children from Mammoth Lakes and the greater So-Cal region in need. Since its inception in 2009, MMCF has successfully raised almost one million dollars through its various fundraising initiatives.

In January 2012, MMCF proudly granted a record-breaking number of Academic Elite Awards to 125 student-athletes maintaining a 3.5 GPA or higher.  The organization also supports mountain teams, such as the MMSST Alpine Ski Team, Snowboard Team, Mammoth High Middle School and Mammoth Middle School’s Nordic, Snowboard, and Alpine Ski Teams.

There are plenty of success stories to share of professionals that developed through the foundation.  For example, junior Nordic skier Amanda Kirkeby, US Ski Team competitor Eric Mann, First-Team All American skier Geordie Lonza, skier and attorney Ryan Wood, professional action sports photographer Peter Morning, and Junior Worlds snowboarder Brandon Davis all benefited from the foundation’s services.

Using sport as a mechanism to aid kids on their life journey, teaching discipline and character, was a common theme throughout the award speeches.  

Kimberley Plake among other ski stars supporting her winning team. Photo: Shannon Marie Quirk

Outside the walls of the event, the fresh powder was not overlooked.  A seemingly perfectly timed snowstorm cleared Saturday night for perfect Sunday conditions.  Mammoth Mountain received a total 32 inches of snowfall in the past week, raising the season snowfall total to over 21 feet.

Mammoth Invitational Photo Gallery:

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For more information on  the Mammoth Mountain Community Fund and how to contribute, see MMCF.

For info and lift tickets, visit