Peterson’s legacy lives on at Jans Winter Welcome | ParkRecord.com

Peterson’s legacy lives on at Jans Winter Welcome

Jan Peterson, Jans Winter Welcome Founder, speaks to the crowd at the 2014 Winter Welcome. The annual fundraising event benefits the Youth Sports Alliance and the teams it supports here in Park City.

Thirty-six years ago, longtime Parkite Jan Peterson had a vision. Living in the area for much of his adult life, Peterson was an enthusiastic outdoorsman, opting to ski, fish or hunt whenever he had the opportunity. He loved it so much that he opened up a store in town called Jans Mountain Outfitters.

What he realized throughout his life was one of his favorite sports, skiing, was too expensive for him and many of his friends. This was a feeling shared by others in the community, and with some help, Peterson started what has now become an anticipated event each year, Jans Winter Welcome.

"Initially, he just realized skiing is a very expensive sport," said Aimee Preston, Executive Director for the Youth Sports Alliance. "He asked all of his vendors who sold their products in his store to donate some stuff so that he can host this auction and dinner, celebrate the Park City Ski Team and make some money for these kids so that they can afford it. After that first year, they just kept holding it and kept getting better and better to now we're benefitting nine teams."

As Preston mentioned, the event originally started as a fundraiser for the Park City Ski Team, but the list has grown over the years. Other teams now helped by the annual event are the Figure Skating Club of Park City, Park City Ice Miners Youth Hockey, Park City Speed Skating Club, Summit Ski Team, Team Park City United, Utah Olympic Park Clubs, Wasatch Freestyle and Wasatch Luge.

Jesse Hunt, Program Director and General Manager of the Park City Ski Team, believes Jans Winter Welcome has become a signature event that signifies the start of the winter season.

"The event has such a long history, it's really pretty impressive," Hunt said. "I think the event itself has been established, ushering in the winter season for the community. I think that's how the community looks at it."

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Like Peterson, Hunt has lived in the community for quite some time. Before joining the Park City Ski Team staff in 2009, he was working with USSA here in town as the U.S. Ski Team Alpine Director.

Hunt knows just exactly how expensive the sport can be. While working with a wide range of athletes from aspiring professionals to youth looking to race in their free time, Hunt and company realized it can be a struggle to ensure the club's operations and members are properly funded and supported.

Without Jans Winter Welcome, Hunt isn't sure where his club would be today.

"It's really vital to the success of those programs," Hunt said. "In terms of the proceeds that come out of the event, they're providing vital funds for operations for the program."

"We wouldn't be able to do what we're doing and reaching the goals that we're reaching without that support."

Unfortunately, Peterson passed away earlier this year at the age of 77 of metastatic prostate cancer. Preston, along with everyone else involved, hopes to maintain the legacy that the late Peterson built during his lifetime at this year's Jans Winter Welcome. The fundraising will continue, and by selling out tickets six weeks before the event (according to Preston, they typically don't sell out until the week before) it's clear that Peterson's vision will live on.

"[Peterson's legacy is] really what we are celebrating this year," Preston said. "The people that knew Jan best called him Coach. I think it's been our theme as we're planning for the event and we think of him as we are going through each step it takes to put out a big event like this."

Jans Winter Welcome will take place on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Stein Eriksen Lodge.

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