Economy doesn’t slow Winter welcome |

Economy doesn’t slow Winter welcome

With the economy being what it is, Jans Winter Welcome event organizer Shelley Gillwald was conservative in her expectations for the annual event held on Saturday to raise money for the organization she heads, the Youth WinterSports Alliance.

So Gillwald was pleasantly surprised when the $250-per-person event held at Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Lodge not only sold out, but netted $200,000 from tickets sales, scholarship fund donations and online, silent and live auctions.

"It was hugely successful," Gillwald said. "Much better than we imagined it could be, given how cautious everyone has been this fall."

The event raises money for the Youth WinterSports Alliance to give local youth more opportunities to enjoy and excel in winter sports, which include skiing, snowboarding, ice sports, sliding sports and everything in between.

The Silver Lake Lodge divided the gala’s offerings into different rooms that housed bronze-, silver- and gold-level silent auctions. Each room also offered Deer Valley cuisine, including hors d’ oeuvres, cocktails, a main course and an extensive dessert table.

To the sides of the autographs table were rooms filed with silent auction items to suit every need. Rooms were filled with everything from ski equipment and apparel to travel and spa items. Following the silent auction, guests were ushered to the live action, which included vacation getaways and special group events including skiing and dining with celebrities.

The evening took on a new twist, putting winter athletes truly on center stage. To keep the focus on the stars of the evening, organizers of the Winter Welcome decided the best way to spotlight the athletes was to do just that and spotlight them. So, in the middle of the main floor of the lodge, athletes from all different winter sports from disabled skiing to freestyle skiing to luge took turns signing autographs on glossy composite photographs. Gillwald said the autographs were the simultaneous brainstorm of both the Winter Welcome athlete committee and one of the event’s new-committee-member meetings. Gillwald said that they were influenced by other area events like the Flying Ace All-Star water ramp show that has made autograph sessions the norm for years and she thought it was wonderful way to introduce the athletes to the guests and for the athletes to interact with each other more.

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