Bless the B Team

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Vail’s B Team Fundraiser Coming Atcha

B- Team, 2015-16 edition. Goldberg, far right
B- Team, 2015-16 edition. Jared Goldberg, far right

If you are a fan of ski racing, you are well aware of the extraordinary financial commitment that US Ski Team athletes must make, first to MAKE it to the US Ski Team but then to BE on it. Back in the day (don’t be rude and ask how long ago), being on the B Team meant you were the real deal. You had run the gauntlet of development, slayed the Nor Ams, proved yourself in Europe, cut your teeth on the World Cup and unquestionably had the chops to go the distance. It was only a matter of time before you made that last leap to the A-Team and got to stand in the start cracking jokes and shaking out your legs with the very best skiers in the world. If you were on the B Team you had all your training and racing expenses paid AND made enough cash to pay the rent, own a car and put some gas in it.

Today? The athletic side is 100 percent the same. The economic side, however, is an entirely different story.  Now, being on the B Team means you are training and racing full time, year round, while also figuring out how to raise a $10,000 team fee plus $10,000 travel expenses AND somehow pay your living expenses while not on the road. The much-lamented “pay to play” model is today’s reality in US Skiing. To the athletes battling their way through the ranks, the $2 million funding “gap”—that number between what the US Ski Team provides and what it needs to fund all the athletes—feels more like a bottomless rut.

B Teamer Anna Marno in action

To be sure, $20k is a fraction of the $100k (or more) it costs to go it alone, without National Team support. It is a hefty number nonetheless, particularly when you consider how many years and dollars it takes to get to this level in the first place.

Giving money, of course, is an obvious way to help. But even some of the sport’s most ardent fans hold their wallets close, wondering how much of their potential donations would really get to the athletes they want to support. These are the athletes who have been figuring out how to juggle school, training and fundraising with creativity and humor; the ones who make the effort to give back their time and energy to younger kids, even in the midst of their own struggles; the ones who are over-the-top grateful for a home-cooked meal; the ones who put in all the work and haven’t gotten any of the glory…yet! Wouldn’t it be nice to give directly to these athletes who are just on the cusp of breaking through to the very top level?

Well, now’s your chance! This Wednesday, November 16, is the “B Team Fundraiser” hosted by USST Men’s Team Physician Randy Viola and his brother Charley at their Vail restaurant, Yama Sushi.  Now in its third year, the fundraiser, also sponsored by The Steadman Philippon Research Institute, allows the B-Team athletes to leverage off each other, their die-hard fans, the US Ski Team name and swag and the draw of a fun sushilicious party.

B Teamer Lila Lapanja, paying it forward

After a fundraising dip at last year’s event, Jared Goldberg stepped up as B-Teamer-in-chief during a training camp in Portillo.  He and his teammates committed to ramping up their efforts, with a robust campaign to get the word out and entice checkbook–wielding supporters to Yama.  “It’s way different this year,” says Goldberg, who notes much higher involvement and direct outreach from all the athletes. “Some people would give more to the ski team if they knew where it was going,” he says. “This event gives people that choice. The money raised goes directly to B Team athletes.” Goldberg hopes the event will raise half of their annual contribution needs. “If we could get $10,000 per athlete that would be…above and beyond!” For the 11 B-Team athletes, that means $110k—well above the record $80k raised Year 1, but very doable if everyone who has been looking for a way to give directly to the athletes takes this opportunity.

C Teamer AJ Ginnis, embracing his fan base

Yama seats about 40, so the suggested $1000 donation is intended to draw a purposeful crowd. In addition to killer sushi and cocktails, the event features a silent auction with things like USST race suits, skiwear and swag, plus lift tickets and accommodations at Park City, Vail and Jackson Hole.  Raffle tickets get you a chance at a USST jacket signed with extreme gratitude by the entire B Team. There will be a live auction for speed suits signed and donated by Ted Ligety and Lindsey Vonn. Athletes in attendance include B Teamers Tommy Beismeyer,
Jared Goldberg,
Bryce Bennett,
Breezy Johnson,
Jacqueline Wiles and Anna Marno plus A Teamers Lindsey Vonn, Steve Nyman and Laurenne Ross. Ted Ligety is a definite maybe, but his signed suit will be there for sure.

The action starts at 6:30 and by the end of the night, after all the appeals and auctions, the checks will be written. However much money is raised, some burden will immediately be lifted from the B-Team athletes, so they can bring their A-game into the season.

If you can’t make it to Vail, have an acute sushi allergy, or do not have a spare $1k to give, BUT you still want to Bless the B-Team, send a check to the address below. Make it out to “U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation” with “B-Team Fundraiser” in the memo line.  All proceeds will help cover the athletes’ team fees and (B is for Bonus) are tax deductible.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation
PO Box 100
1 Victory Lane
Park City, UT 84060

To RSVP or to make a donation contact Susan Ganter at [email protected].

Yama Sushi
168 Gore Creek Dr.
Vail, CO 81657





2 thoughts on “Bless the B Team”

  1. Hi Eddy,
    Thanks for writing this, these kids need help financially.
    Back in our day as you said the B team and Training group were financed .
    where has all that money gone?

    • Yeah it’s tough! Nice there is a vehicle to support them directly. I really wonder how these kids hang in there and make it work. It’s not a huge mystery why we don’t have more ski racers though. Thanks for reading!

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