Masters give back to young ski racers
On the surface, Friday’s masters races at Heavenly might seem as an avenue for skiers to recapture some of their glory.
But there will be something much deeper going on at the Viva Italia Gianotti slalom races on World Cup run.
John Gianotti’s annual masters stop on the South Shore has become a fundraiser for the Far West Masters Scholarship Program.
“I’m very proud to have been a masters ski racer,” said Gianotti, who won five world championships and 11 national masters titles before giving up his competitive racing career. “I had 22 years of ski racing in the masters, and we (hadn’t) done anything for the younger kids. It gave us an opportunity to do something.
“We try very hard to provide the necessary things they need, like money to travel to races.”
Beneficiaries have included Olympians Jonna Mendes and Marco Sullivan.
In the past 16 years, Far West Masters has raised more than $250,000 in scholarship money. Far West racers ages 14-20 are the most common recipients of the scholarships.
“We gave $40,000 to approximately 40 athletes this year,” said Eddie Mozen, chairman of the Far West Scholarship Fund. “It doesn’t necessarily go to the best racers. Kids who are leaders, work hard and get good grades are recipients as well.”
Postrace raffles, sponsors and direct money-giving campaigns are the methods to raising the scholarship money. Mozen, at some point, would like to see the scholarship fund provide even more to the racers.
“We’re working on getting endowments,” Mozen said. “We’re aiming to provide a full scholarship to college.”
Gianotti, who has sponsored the Heavenly event since 1997, uses a raffle to generate scholarship money. Local businesses donate items that he will raffle off after the races.
The first of two slalom races begins at 9 a.m. Friday. A wide range of ages compete – from 21 to even a few who have surpassed their 80th birthdays.
“They are very professional, and there are some terrific racers,” Gianotti said.