Project Big Air receives big donation
Spencer F. Eccles has generously committed a $1 million challenge grant to the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation going toward the $3 million Project Big Air Campaign, a joint fundraising effort between the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation and U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation, the fundraising arm of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, official national governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding.
Project Big Air encompasses a complete redesign of the summer training pool ramps at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, including seven brand-new snow sport-specific ramps for aerials, moguls, freeskiing, snowboarding and big air. The redesigned training facility will benefit winter Olympic athletes and youth participants across multiple snow sports. The training pool complex is scheduled for a grand re-opening in June 2015.
"With this contribution, Spencer F. Eccles continues to demonstrate his unwavering support to deepen Utah’s commitment to Olympic winter sport while challenging other stakeholders and philanthropists to join him in this effort," said Colin Hilton, president and CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation.
Said Eccles, "I’m ‘110 percent’ committed to the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation’s continued role of sport development for Utah’s youth and elite athletes. It’s a thrill to be able to offer this challenge and build even greater momentum for this exciting Big Air campaign!"
Over the past half-century, Eccles has distinguished himself as one of Utah’s most influential contributors as a banking and business leader, philanthropist and elite-level alpine competitor. A native of Ogden, Utah, Eccles first made tracks at Snowbasin Ski Area and later competed for the University of Utah Ski Team including as captain and All-American.
His numerous ski accomplishments include: first alternate to the U.S. 1958 FIS World Championships ski team, placing third in the Canadian National Championship slalom, placing second in the U.S. National slalom and third in the combined, and winning both a silver medal in Aspen’s famed Roche Cup slalom and a bronze in the combined. Eccles’ lifelong passion for skiing is contagious. Through ongoing community philanthropy, he actively supports youth participation in winter sports and healthy lifestyles.
Eccles’ enthusiasm has also guided an extraordinary amount of support and funding to numerous ski- and Olympic-related endeavors. In 2002, the International Olympic Committee awarded him its highest honor, the Pierre de Coubertin Medal, recognizing his exceptional service to the Olympic movement. Today, he continues as a member of the board of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, the Utah Sports Commission, and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation.
"Spence Eccles’ generous challenge is instrumental to the success of Project Big Air," said Hilton. "With this grant, more than two-thirds of necessary project funds have been secured providing positive momentum as we head towards the finish line."
The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, which is charged with stewardship of the Utah Olympic Park, has also committed $1 million to the campaign. Fundraising partners are actively seeking the final $1 million installment to reach the total goal of $3 million through national and in-state efforts among family foundations, private donors, and corporate organizations.
"We are so excited to partner with the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation and Spencer F. Eccles on this project," said Trisha Worthington, executive vice president and chief development officer of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation. "It is inspiring to know that our efforts today will impact international, national and local athletes for decades to come."
The existing ramps at Utah Olympic Park, built in 1993, have been one of the most heavily used training facilities of any of Utah’s Olympic Legacy venues. Serving athletes for 22 seasons, the training facility has resulted in more than a dozen Olympic and World Championship medals while providing development support for thousands of young athletes.
Demolition work began in early October and will continue until the holidays. The new ramp structures will be pre-built in a warehouse in Salt Lake City over the winter. Construction and ramp installation will resume in the spring of 2015, with an anticipated re-opening in June.
"It would be very hard for me to be where I am today without the facilities at the Utah Olympic Park," said Joss Chirstensen, Olympic gold medalist in slopestyle skiing. "If we could have different ramps for the different sports, there’s no limit to what athletes can try here."
For interested supporters, please visit http://www.ProjectBigAir.org for more information and to make an online contribution.
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