NAC hosts another successful Snow Challenge |

NAC hosts another successful Snow Challenge

Participants dressed in Denim and Diamonds for this year’s theme

Ravi Drugan (17) skis around the gate on the blue course during the National Ability Center's Snow Challenge at Park City Mountain Resort's C.B.'s Run on Saturday morning. Participants were invited to dress in costume for the event.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

For the second-straight year, the National Ability Center was gifted with beautiful weather for its annual Ability Snow Challenge event on Saturday at Park City Mountain Resort. The participants, along with the Olympian and professional athletes in attendance, were decked out in Denim and Diamonds: the theme of this year’s event.

“It’s definitely cool to get all of them together; whether they are an NAC athlete or whether they are the Olympic legends that we put on the team,” Snow Challenge Event Manager Julia Rametta said. “It’s also really cool to see that there’s this one thing that brings everybody together. It doesn’t matter what level they’re at.”

The Ability Snow Challenge, the center’s longest-running event, celebrated its 29th year on Saturday. And every year, Rametta and company are slightly worried about good snow or bad weather in the weeks leading up to the event, since it takes place late in the ski season.

But like years past, the conditions last weekend were great.

“It’s always like, ‘Are we going to have snow?’ We always do,” Rametta said. “It went from a sheet of ice to slushy snow. So I think people, between their first and second runs, got to experience the whole range of ski racing. That was fun.”

Some of the participating legends, as the center labeled them, included Robin Jennings, a former Major League Baseball player; Jana Johnson, JJ Johnson and Doug Lewis, all Olympic skiers; Monte Meier and Stephani Victor, both Paralympic skiers; and Heidi Voelker, an Olympic skier. They were placed on one of the 24 racing teams.

Of those teams, a number of local businesses, such as Skullcandy, JANS, the Park City Fire Department and Switchback Sports, came out to support the nonprofit.

“Some really great community partners got involved and we were able to have a lot of our ski and snowboard participants showcase what they’ve been learning,” Rametta said.

Also in attendance were some of the center’s many athletes, including Noah Elliot and Saylor O’Brien. Elliot, who lost his knee to bone cancer, soaked in every minute of the Ability Snow Challenge.

“My favorite part was definitely getting to know other people and sharing stories; how everyone gets involved with the organization,” Elliot said. “[I enjoyed hearing] what really drives them to ski or snowboard and be in that type of sport.”

Elliot also got to share his story with others. In fact, he often sees himself in some of the center’s younger athletes.

“That’s one of the coolest parts, you try to relate to a lot of these kids in a way that some others may not,” Elliot said.

Rametta said this year was another successful Snow Challenge, one that required all hands on deck from workers and volunteers. Despite all of the hard work, though, it’s worth it in the end.

“All these people come in and do their part on their end,” Rametta said. “It runs very smoothly with all of the support and help. [Everyone loves] to be out there skiing and enjoying the mountain; being with each other to support the [National Ability Center’s] mission is really cool to see.”

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