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NFSC Hosts Gold Team Only Top Ski Racers Selected

by Jennie Acklin

At Holiday Valley, ski racers are mentored and coached by a caring group of dedicated coaches, but a handful who make the elite Gold Team get a special chance to take it to the next level.

Miguel Azcarate, a former professional ski racer for Spain and Gold Team chairperson, provides this group of top Western New York athletes, an Olympic-style ski camp with specialized training through the Niagara Frontier Ski Council (NFSC), which is composed of Holiday Valley, HoliMont, Kissing Bridge, Peak n’ Peak, Buffalo Ski Club and Ski Denton. The program has seen great success by establishing standards and providing cooperative training opportunities for the area’s top level ski competitors at all levels from JIV through JI.

The NFSC Gold Team is a reward, of sorts, for the racers’ outstanding race results from the prior ski season. To qualify, athletes from member ski areas must submit an essay to be considered for the Gold Team and each area’s coach must make a personal recommendation.

Once these young skiers qualify for the elite Gold Team, they are invited to a pre-season training camp taught by Azcarate, who is also the Training Center director at Holiday Valley. For four days in December at Holiday Valley, 27 teammates eat, sleep, work out and, of course, ski together. A professional strength training workout is part of the schedule, as well as video analysis of their racing runs of the day. The group also discusses proper nutrition during breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Azcarate treats these athletes to lodging at the Inn at Holiday Valley, provides a custom uniform for the season and dinner each evening (and we’re not talking fast food or junk food). This year’s pre-season ski camp runs Dec. 20–23, 2012.

The money to fund this program comes from one primary fundraising event with sponsors Shults Auto Group of Jamestown, Rossignol Ski Company, and Mud Sweat n’ Gears, Azcarate and his wife Kim Reading’s successful ski shop in Ellicottville. Additional funds come from race entry fees.

The grand prize of the fundraising event is a car, which can be won only through the purchase of raffle tickets sold from December through March. The proceeds of raffle ticket sales also become the primary financial support of the Holiday Valley Training Center teams: freestyle, snowboard, racing, as well as the Gold Team. The raffle drawing is usually held during the Pond Skimming event in March at Holiday Valley.

Ellicottville Times to Sell Pink Raffle Tickets

Ski racing is a sport that is held near and dear to the heart of the Ellicottville Times, and we are excited to join Azcarate and the NFSC fundraising efforts this year by selling pink raffle tickets at our offices and through our newspaper. For every “pink ticket” sold, the Ellicottville Times will make an additional monetary donation to the Gold Team and the American Cancer Society. Advertisers will also be able to support the Gold Team through special opportunities throughout the season.

Congratulations to this year’s 2012-2013 Niagara Frontier Ski Council Gold Team members: Sofie Sellstrom, Thomas Shantler, Christine Moloney, Caelan Cavcic, William Mangan, Danielle Mason, David Flaherty, Joseph Mergl, Max Carbaugh, Mack Hurley, Andre Berberich, Andrew Mangan, Mitchell Teal, Maggie Munshauer, Caison Lavicka, Aiden Elizondo, Hannah Halli, Hanna Doro, Harry Armstrong, Chloe Richards, Anya Elizando, Ethan Hejna, Nathan Brieselden, Alex Baase, Patricia Mangan, Taylor Davies and Jacob Flaherty. A

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