Members of Team Breckenridge Sports Club will be counting the miles — vertical miles, that is — during their virtual vertical challenge fundraiser this Saturday, Dec. 21.
Around 50 Team Breckenridge athletes, ranging in age from 6 to 17 years old, will be taking to the slopes Saturday to ski as much as they can in a two-hour period to raise money for the team.
This is the first time Team Breckenridge has tried out a vertical challenge, but it’s something that they would like to carry on in the future, said Paul Kropatsch, Team Breckenridge board president.
“Like every ski team out there, fundraising is very important to our organization, as we try to keep our tuition fees as low as possible for our athletes so we can get as many people that want to participate,” he said. “Fundraising is a big part of our organization and (we’re) trying to keep those fees low and keep our athletes involved and make sure we have quality coaches and terrain and the equipment that we need.”
About the team
The ski club is also a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It accepts members from the ages of 5 and up, and offers programs for all alpine disciplines, freeride and snowboarding. Athletes are accepted regardless of ability levels.
“Our mission is to make sure (if) there’s an athlete or kid who wants to be in our ski team, we try and figure out a way that they can, regardless of financial ability, which is why fundraising is important,” Kropatsch said.
The 138 ski club athletes are taught by 20 coaches — 10 alpine and 10 freeride, six of whom are full time.
“Our coaches are phenomenal,” said Kropatsch. “They’ve competed or coached at every level of their sport.”
Team Breckenridge’s programs are year-round. They take place not only at Breckenridge Ski Resort, but nationwide (like Mt. Hood in Oregon) and even at an international level (South Africa, Austria, etc.).
“It might just be a winter sport here, but our athletes are very serious and dedicated to their sport and continue that throughout the year,” Kropatsch said.
There’s more to the club than just time on the slopes, however, he added.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to learn about other cultures but also travel, and the sport really builds discipline in our kids and their own character building. Because not all of our athletes are going to make it to the (elite level) or even have the desire to be at the elite level of the sport, but one thing we can make sure we try to do is instill that character in order to develop great adults (who) have responsibility and integrity.”
Team Breckenridge board member and spokesperson Mara Sheldon agreed.
“The coaches really focus not only on the skiing with the kids, but all these kids are learning life lessons. They’re learning how to be responsible, they’re learning how to be a team, work together. While there is a lot of competition, a lot of the kids, they root each other on, they’re there for each other,” she said. “They’re really building strong friendships, which I’ve noticed as a parent, too. The kids like to interact with each other after hours. They like to ski together, they like to have pizza and talk about the day.”
The ski club hopes to raise $20,000 with its vertical ski challenge. Furthermore, a generous donor has offered to match the amount raised, dollar for dollar, up to the $20,000 goal.
The challenge will take place on Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Breckenridge Ski Resort. After the time window closes, prizes will be awarded to the various age groups for achievements such as most money raised and number of vertical miles skied. Prizes include winter gear and Team Breckenridge paraphernalia.
Additionally, any skiers or riders who are not part of the ski club can also participate in the fundraiser. Those interested can register by following the link on the Team Breckenridge page, or going to: www.firstgiving.com/teambrecksportsclub/verticlechallenge.
“It’s to have more community involvement and something fun for people to participate in the community,” Kropatsch said. “It’s a fun event, it’s fitting for the area and I think it’s something that people can all participate in, (with) great prizes and recognition for all participants as well.”