Celebs hit the slopes at Deer Valley
After battling sub-zero temperatures and a biting wind last year, Deer Valley’s 23rd annual Celebrity Skifest took place under much nicer conditions this weekend.
With sunny skies and slight breezes, celebrities and former Olympians took to the slopes for a charity event supporting the Waterkeeper Alliance.
Olympic gold medalists Phil Mahre and Tommy Moe were joined by Olympic silver medalist Steve Mahre and Olympian Heidi Voelker as team captains for the event. Celebrities including fisherman Captain Keith Colburn of "Deadliest Catch," actor Giancarlo Esposito of "Breaking Bad," actress Alicia Silverstone of "Clueless," actor JB Smoove of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Papa John’s founder John Schnatter and ABC news correspondent Bob Woodruff joined Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for the weekend of racing.
Schnatter, who owns property at Deer Valley, said he was pleasantly surprised by the level of competition at the event.
"This is my first year, first event," he said. "I’ve got to tell you, it’s a lot harder than it looks."
Overall, though, he was happy with how Sunday’s races went.
"I did well," he said. "I got a slow start on the first race, but I had a good finish. I felt like my second race was faster. I felt like I got a better start and I was on the edge at the top. At the bottom, I was going full-out — if I’d have gone any faster, I’d have crashed. Turns out I ran about half a second slower [than the first race], so I don’t know what happened, but I had fun."
Steve Mahre, who is an event regular, said this weekend’s weather conditions were much better than last year’s, leading to more people showing up.
"We’ve had a couple years like that where it’s 15 degrees but the wind’s blowing 20 miles an hour," he said. "Without the wind, if it’s sunny and 20, that’s not so bad. But when it’s cloudy and windy and it’s snowing on top of all that, it’s tough.
"It’s great when it’s like this — you definitely get more people out watching."
At the end of the day, Schnatter and Mahre agree, the Celebrity Skifest isn’t about who wins and loses — it’s about having a good time and supporting a great charity.
"Number one, it’s a fun time," Mahre said. "Two, it’s a good cause. As long as they keep inviting me, I’ll keep coming."
Waterkeeper Alliance is a group that works to protect the world’s water supply, defending communities against "law-breaking polluters and unresponsive government agencies."
"If you go to these third-world countries, the biggest problem they have is water," Schnatter said. "Better water means better health, which means a better life. That’s what Waterkeeper is all about. It’s that simple you have to have good water. We take it for granted in this country. Waterkeeper has 200 offices throughout the world, so they put their money where their mouth is."
Schnatter said the Celebrity Skifest is a very well-run event and something he would like to be a part of in the future.
"The people have been fantastic," he said. "It’s organized. I like to compete. If you’re going to compete, you have to be prepared and if you’re going to be prepared, you have to be organized. I like everything about this event. If they’ll have me, I’ll come back."
As for Mahre, he said he plans to be a fixture at the event for a long time.
"Ideally, I’ll be out here until I’m six feet under," he laughed.
Sunday’s race will air on CBS on Sunday, Dec. 14, after the network’s slate of NFL games.
The Youth Sports Alliance will host a team scramble golf tournament on June 3 at Victory Ranch in hopes of raising funds for its scholarships and youth programs.