Grand Mesa ski legends to be honored today

Event combined with fundraiser for Powderhorn Racing Club

Three locals with legendary contributions to Grand Mesa skiing will be honored at today’s Snowball 2013 — a fundraiser for the Powderhorn Racing Club being held in the Colorado Mesa University College Center Ballroom from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The honorees at this year’s event come from three of the influential community organizations that have helped contribute to the celebration of more than 77 years of skiing on Grand Mesa — the Powderhorn Racing Club, the Grand Mesa Nordic Council, and Colorado Discover Ability.

Peg Foster is one of this year’s honorees. In addition to directing scores of Foster family members through the race team program, she and her husband Bill were instrumental in the original development of Powderhorn in the early 1960s.

“They thought it was a really important part of having a ski area — having a race program. It’s one of the best ways to get families to ski,” said Mike Foster, one of seven of Peg’s children, a group that includes “lots of ski racers,” he said.

Of his mother, Mike Foster said that she is a longtime volunteer for the race team, helping out on the race hill, among countless other ways she contributed to the Powderhorn community.

Uschi Hall — a one-time student and now current teacher and volunteer with Colorado Discover Ability — will also be recognized at this year’s Snowball.

Hall learned to navigate the ski slopes with a bi-ski as well as a monoski through the program, but as group board member Donna Iovanni explained, Hall became very active as a regular volunteer in many capacities.

In addition to previously acting as Colorado Discover Ability’s executive director, Hall also is a liaison to numerous other community organizations and partners, as well as provides support in terms of office administration.

“She’s amazing,” Iovanni said of Hall. “She is just very dedicated, very invested in our program, and to bringing that program to other people in the community that are in need.”

The third honoree is one of the founders of the Grand Mesa Nordic Council, John Burritt — a former Olympian in the biathlon and a man directly responsible for introducing countless area kids to cross-country skiing.

Burritt placed 14th in the biathlon at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif., a finish not bested by an American for four decades. After the Olympics, Burritt cleared a slope between Baron and Twin lakes on Grand Mesa, built a ski lodge, and put in a rope tow. Following that, he outfitted and personally brought bus loads of school kids to Grand Mesa to try their hand at skiing.

Burritt will not be the only former Olympian at tonight’s Snowball. The special guest speaker of the event is Sarah Schleper, an accomplished skier and coach who competed in four Winter Olympics, most recently in 2010.


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