Four points — a matter of finishing one place higher in any number of World Cup mogul events — kept Summit County native Mikaela Matthews from being the 10th-ranked women’s mogul skier in the world last season.
While 11th is an almost equally impressive accomplishment, one she’s quite proud of, those four points ended up being the difference between being a fully funded member of the U.S. Ski Team, A Team, and paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 in unsupported travel, lodging and ski area expenses on the B Team.
When you’re a kid, they don’t tell you your Olympic dreams are going to be expensive.
“It’s unfortunate the way our system is set up to a certain extent,” U.S. team moguls coach Scott Rawles said regarding the qualification process and athlete funding.
“Basically, if I’d gotten one spot better in any competition I competed in this year, I’d be on A Team,” Matthews said. “It’s a really difficult way to look at it.”
And all indications are that’s not how she sees it at all.
“You can’t be looking towards the past. You can only look forward to what you can do.”
This Saturday she’ll be looking to do just that, and she’s counting on Summit County to help her out, as she’ll be hosting a fundraiser at her former employer, the Backcountry Brewery.
“I’ve had tremendous support from Summit County,” she said of her fundraising efforts so far. “It’s exciting to feel so loved and supported by the community”
A number of area businesses have already donated items for a silent auction, and Matthews is working to get a few more last-minute contributions. She said the silent auction will include a variety of winter gear, from skis to winter apparel, as well as a number of gift cards from area businesses and tickets to see either the Avalanche or the Nuggets.
The event gets rolling Saturday at 6 p.m. There will be door prizes and tickets for sale for prize drawings. Anyone who brings a nonperishable food item for the Summit County food bank will also receive one free ticket for the prize drawing. The event is free and guests will have an opportunity to meet and speak with Matthews about her Olympic aspirations.
She’ll head into this season with a clean slate and have six qualifying races to try to make her Olympic dreams a reality, starting with the first World Cup series event in Ruka Finland, Dec. 14.
“Everybody starts even at the start of the year,” Moguls coach Scott Rawles said. “Everybody has the same shot at this point.”
As for Matthews’ Olympic chances, he said, “She’s worked really hard. She definitely has the potential to get there.”
Rawles said ranking 11th in the world last season was a big step for her. “She had a great year.”
He added that, “She’s had a tremendous summer training. She’s definitely made some improvements.”