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Skating enthusiasts share their skills at home and beyond

Rob Bhatt

Part of the special beauty at Lake Tahoe is the way people rally around each other in the pursuit of wholesome, outdoor activities in a glorious environment.

Strangers of different races, genders and age are united when they meet on the ski slopes, mountain bicycle trails or in other sports venues.

Differences give way to the similarities that drive men and women, young and old, to test and stretch their physical limits in competitive and recreational environments.

Perhaps one of the best examples of that special beauty at Lake Tahoe comes from spending an afternoon at the South Lake Tahoe home of Alan and Donna Vano.

When the husband and wife, married three years ago on a skate ramp in Hawaii, are not traveling the globe to compete in “extreme sports,” they regularly volunteer to coach youths in skating and snowboarding.

For nearly a decade, they have opened the skate ramp outside their house for teen-agers and 20-somethings to use for training and polishing their skills. Throughout the day, young skate boarders and inline skaters come and go after a couple of hours on the ramp under the direction of the world class skaters.

The Vanos make the youths and their parents sign a release and understand that using the ramp is a privilege that can be revoked if the youngsters cause problems at school or at home.

And wherever they go on the road, the Vanos tout the benefits and treasures about Lake Tahoe in person and via television.

This month alone, Donna Vano, 44, is featured in two national magazines.

And last week, she was photographed and interviewed for another article in an upcoming issue of American Health for Women. The article focuses on her own athletic accomplishments, her involvement with area youth and tips on cross training. The spread is expected to include photographs of area youths on the skate ramp outside her home.

“The real special part for my husband and myself is, No. 1, getting to show the special beauty of our town,” Vano said, about the upcoming article. “And, No. 2, is getting the involvement of the kids in our town in it.”

Vano and her husband, 34, are both professional inline skaters and compete on the amateur snowboard circuit with a seemingly mile long list of sponsors that either pay them salaries or furnish them with equipment and training space.

Donna Vano is also a past national champion on the U.S. Amateur Snowboard Association tour.

Having twice been diagnosed with cancer at ages 17 and 37, Vano considers working with youths her most rewarding accomplishment behind being alive and being “married to a wonderful guy.”

“I’m just driven by the love of kids, the love of the sport and the adrenaline and just being outside and knowing there is stuff beyond a 9-5 job,” she said.

Her credits this month include writeups about her in Fit Magazine and Snowboard Life. Officials from American Health for Women could not be reached to confirm when the feature on Vano will be published.


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