Race honors skier’s spirit
Marking the true Olympic spirit of tears, brotherhood and goodwill, about 30 friends, family and other supporters turned out on snowshoes Sunday at Camp Richardson Resort to honor Eric Nageotte-Lowe.
The South Lake Tahoe teenager, who died in a skiing accident in New Zealand more than a year ago, was once a hopeful for the Games. The event wrapped up Sunday night, sparking a sense of irony among those at the fundraiser organized by Tahoe Mountain Milers.
The running club puts on the “Fresh Tracks” five-kilometer snowshoe race every year. Club organizer Dave Cotter said it was coincidence the event fell on the last day of the Olympics, especially since the race was aimed at benefiting Olympic-bound athletes. Last year, the Mountain Milers raised $1,000 into the $9,000 fund.
Eric, who died at age 18 what an elite ski camp, was honored by both sets of parents, Ron Nageotte and Carol Rapacz and John and Toni Lowe, with T-shirts donning photos of the young freestyle skier. Nageotte and Rapacz competed in the snowshoe race. The Eric Nageotte-Lowe Freestyle Memorial Scholarship Fund was formed to fund athletes of all abilities to fulfill their dreams.
“We’re so happy his memory still lives on. I didn’t know he was loved so much,” Eric’s mother Toni Lowe said, while tears rolled down her face. “It’s like a dream he’s not here.”
In a sheer mixture of emotions, the South Lake Tahoe woman has been humbled by the outpouring of support from others, sad over her grief and gratified “he died doing what he loved.” Eric tumbled over a 5-foot-deep crevasse on a new run opened up at the ski camp, experiencing head trauma. His memorial shortly after brought out more than 700 people.
Lowe’s grief has been exacerbated and flared by the Olympic Games staged this week.
“He loved skiing with his friends like (Olympian freestyle skier) Travis (Cabral). That could have been my boy – my first born. He would have loved to just make it and represent his country,” she said.
The event’s timing has turned out to be bittersweet for his biological father, Ron Nageotte. The Stateline man ran the Olympic torch relay through Genoa four years ago as it headed for Park City. He recalled Eric was by his side on the short stretch and sang the national anthem for a gathering of onlookers that day.
That wasn’t the first time Eric came to his father’s aid. In 1992, Nageotte skied into a tree at Heavenly Mountain Resort when he was with his son. Doctors said he almost died. The ski patrol gave Eric a trophy.
“No one knew I was there except Eric. He saved my life,” he said, as his eyes misted over. Now, he wants to carry on his son’s altruistic legacy – which included picking up a fallen competitor in a Trick or Trot foot race at age 7, his father recalled.
“It’s really neat they put on a race where the money is going to a good cause,” said Kim Fidel of Reno, the first-place female finisher at 48:06. Agreeing was Ross McMahon of Incline Village, who came in first for the males at 31:40.
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