LAKE PLACID - It's been a fruitful year for New York Ski Educational Foundation alumni on the international stage, and NYSEF officials are hoping their 30th annual summer "Shindig" fundraiser this weekend will help them continue offering world-class training for the region's Olympic hopefuls.
"This is our major fundraiser for the program," said NYSEF Executive Director Jay Rand. "All of the revenues go to support our athletes and programs that this winter alone we had nine alumni that participated in the Sochi Winter Olympics, including Andrew Weibrecht, who won the silver medal in the giant-slalom."
The benefit - dubbed as a "celebration of local athletes, music, food and drink" - starts at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23 at the Heaven Hill Farm on Bear Club Road. It is open to the public. Open bar, dinner and a silent auction will be held until 8:30 p.m., when musical act Big Slyde begins its two-hour performance.
NYSEF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to providing professional guidance and support to athletes of all ages in alpine, freestyle, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, snowboarding, biathlon, and nordic combined. NYSEF athletes represent the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Teams competing at Olympic, World, Junior World and National Team levels.
On the nordic side at the Sochi Olympics, NYSEF alumn and Vermontville native Bill Demong competed in nordic combined, and he won a silver and a gold medal during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games at Vancouver.
"Locals like (Saranac Lake ski jumper) Peter Frenette are out of our program and presently competing on the U.S. Ski Team," Rand said. "Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths), our biathletes, had outstanding records in Europe last winter and competed in Sochi."
In the wings, NYSEF has more than 400 athletes from age 5 to 21 in the competitive area.
"Then we also have a masters program for the guys that love to continue ski racing or learn it," Rand said. "Some of them are up to 70 years old."
Founded in 1973, NYSEF is based at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington and offers programming at the local Olympic facilities - Whiteface Mountain, the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg and the Olympic Jumping Complex - plus Gore Mountain Ski Center in North Creek. It employs more than 80 part- and full-time coaches, according to Rand.
"The revenues we make go to providing coaching, travel and, in some cases, scholarships so that we can continue our outstanding record," Rand said.
NYSEF officials are inviting the public to join them Aug. 23 to help preserve the region's rich Olympic ski heritage by supporting and investing in the organization's future.
The event is open to people age 21 and older. Tickets may be purchased for $90 per person or $170 per couple at the door or in advance at www.nysef.org. For more details, visit the website or call the NYSEF office at 518-946-7001.
Those who cannot attend are asked to consider a donation at www.nysef.org/donation, which will make them eligible to win one day of skiing at Whiteface.