Celebrity ski weekend a snowy success
A weekend full of top-notch athletes and Hollywood celebrities trumpeted the opening of Deer Valley’s 25th Anniversary season with the Deer Valley Celebrity SkiFest. The event was filled with racing and a gala evening on Saturday to benefit the U.S. Ski Team.
The centerpiece of the weekend was the gala dinner and auction at the Silver Lake Lodge Sunday night. Celebrities donated many of the items that were auctioned off. According to Amanda Woodruff, head of events for the producer JUMA Entertainment, the evening raised approximately 40,000 for the U.S. Ski Team. With the Olympics in Torino on the horizon, the response was overwhelming. "It was the highlight of the weekend," Woodruff said. "It was spectacular." Even with snow falling all weekend, the attendees managed to make the most of the mountain. With almost constant snowfall, racers were forced to battle some visibility issues and the mid-mountain trek was a bit of work on Saturday evening, but Deer Valley media relations coordinator Erin Grady said that everyone was still able to attend and make it a positive experience. "It was definitely successful," said Erin Grady. The celebrities were paired with the athletes for the slalom races on Birdseye Run on Saturday and Sunday. The team led by Deer Valley’s own Ambassador of Skiing Heidi Voelker beat former Olympian Steve Mahre’s team in the Sunday finals. "It was a close competition, with Heidi’s team taking the gold," Woodruff said. Celebrity skier Battlestar Galactica star Michael Trucco says the slalom races are all in good fun, but the competitive spirit is real. "The competition is palpable," Trucco said. "We all pretend like it’s no big deal, but when we are in the starting gate ." A new highlight of the racing was the new addition of free skiers to the athlete lineup. Tanner Hall, C.R. Johnson, Kye Petersen and Steve Mahre’s son Andy all showed off their free skiing prowess by taking the slalom run backwards. Sunday’s action will be telecast on CBS on Sunday, Dec. 18 at 3 p.m. directly following the Sunday NFL football broadcast. The celebrities were selected by JUMA Entertainment based on who they thought would make the televised event most exciting. Because the races will be broadcast on CBS, they chose actors from CBS evening television who have a skiing background. Some of this year’s actors included, Joe Pantoliano (Sopranos); Carlos Bernard (24); Rob Morrow (Numb3rs); Diann Farr (Numb3rs); Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother); Ty Burrell (Out of Practice); Christopher Gorham (Out of Practice); Aisha Tyler (Ghost Whisperer); David Conrad (Ghost Whisperer); Lola Glaudini (Criminal Minds); Hill Harper (CSI: NY); Anna Belknap (CSI: NY); Sandra Hess (Commander in Chief): Michael Trucco (Battle Star Galactica). Woodruff says that both the athletes and celebrities are very receptive and supportive of the ski fest because of the ties to U.S. Ski Team endeavors. According to Trucco, these types of events are the perfect way to combine a love skiing and celebrity status to make a difference for various charities. He says each year he makes appearances at various events to raise money for causes that are close to his heart. Trucco came directly from wrapping up the show in Vancouver to Utah to be a part of the weekend. Trucco said the charities have helped bring him back to the slopes. "I ski a lot more because of these events," Trucco said. "It surprises that not more celebrities attend these. They treat us so well and the cause is so good." Ian Ziering, best known for his role as high school stud, Steve Sanders, on 1990s hit Beverly Hills 90210, is attending the Celebrity Ski Fest for the fourth time. The TV star lost to Phil Mahre on his Saturday slalom run, but loves the weekend, because of his passion for skiing. "It was competition to keep me coming back for more," Ziering said. "It’s the best up here. It’s spiritual." Ziering wasn’t just there for the fresh powder, he donated a pair of skis to the auction and embraces the charity aspect of the weekend. "It been very special for the U.S. team, Deer Valley and everyone involved. It’s very fun," Ziering said. The ties to the U.S Ski Team became even more pronounced for both the athletes and celebrities at the Ski Fest in an Olympic year. "It makes you a little closer to the team. It’s a nice thing. There’s patriotism involved," Trucco said. There’s nothing more patriotic than the Olympics."
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