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(Photo courtesy Christopher See) The Park City High School mountain-bike team did it again last weekend, finishing atop the podium for the third consecutive week.
Having been involved with the U.S. Ski Team since 1999, it was only fitting for two-time Olympic Freestyle medalist Shannon Bahrke to become the host of the biggest winter sports fundraiser in Park City.

Well-known for her engaging personality and affinity for Olympic sports, Bahrke enters her second year as a co-host for the Jans Winter Welcome -- which turns 32 this year -- a fundraiser that benefits various athletes and programs involved with the Youth Winter Sports Alliance. The money raised at the event provides platforms for kids either to continue down their athletic career-path or get their first experience with a number of winter sports.

The event, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27, is a black-tie-suggested affair to be held at the Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley. Bahrke said she is excited to bring her passion to such a prestigious and important fundraising function.

"I was born to talk," she said. "I (hosted) last year and it was so much fun. It fits my personality. And the fact that the community is so giving -- and giving and giving -- is so important to this event."

Bahrke, who is in her first year as a board member with the Youth Winter Sports Alliance, said she hopes her legacy at the event will be, besides raising a lot of money, introducing young athletes at the event to their idols.

Bahrke said the theme is always different every year, depending on what's going on in the world. "This year, I wanted it to be about our heroes," she said.


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"We asked all the little kids on the teams of the various Youth Winter Sports Alliance teams who their heroes were. We've got so much feedback. I hope someday in the future, we'll have a kid who comes back to the Welcome and says, 'I met Billy Demong and he changed my life, he made me realize that this is possible.' That would mean so much to me."

Among the elite winter athletes slated to attend this year's Winter Welcome are Bahrke, five-time Olympic gold medalist Eric Heiden, Olympic gold medalist Sarah Tueting, gold-medal speedskater Derek Parra, and five-time U.S. national champion and Olympian aerialist Emily Cook.

For Russ Coburn, president and CEO of Jans, the Winter Welcome has become an organic, self-sustaining occasion.

"It sells out and it has sold out for 32 years," Coburn said. "It doesn't seem to matter how much we charge for tables or an individual to get in. In the last 27 or 28 years, I have either been going or putting it on, and a good portion of the people who attend are the people that have been there all along. It's very important for the community."

Coburn said the Welcome benefits 12 programs in the Youth Winter Sports Alliance ranging from Nordic skiing to alpine skiing to speedskating to figure skating and even hockey and sliding sports.

"The Youth Winter Sports Alliance was developed for two reasons: to develop young athletes and to give them opportunity to train, to go on to a level of competition and to also allow for youngsters in the community who weren't necessarily after top competition to just participate in the winter sports for all the incredible amenities we have to offer," he said.

"I always enjoy the different returning athletes that come back and the smiles on the kids' faces," Coburn added. "To see the returning athletes get excited about the new up-and-comers and all these young kids get all starry-eyed when they see these Olympians is awesome.

For more information on the 32nd Jans Winter Welcome, visit www.ywsa.org .