Boosters support winter sports teams

Published in the Durango Herald on November 18, 2014

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ANNE CHASE/Durango Herald

It was a gathering of Purgatory oldtimers, longtime Durango Adaptive Sports Association supporters and the parents and friends of the 200 young people participating in nordic, alpine and freestyle skiing programs. Funds raised will provide coaching and training funding along with scholarships to help kids from all income levels participate in winter sports and “do something great,” as DWSF President Mike Elliott puts it.

Purgy’s chef, Dan Furlong, managed to get almost all of the food for dinner – prime rib, asparagus with hollandaise sauce and salad, with sweets for afters – donated by suppliers, while Tito’s Vodka provided the potent potable for some enticing cocktails and Ska Brewing Co’s brews were available for those imbibing something a little lighter.

The centerpiece of the evening, was, of course, the induction of the new Durango Winter Sports Hall of Fame, and it might well have been the most emotional induction in the hall of fame’s nine years.

The three inductees were Dave Spencer, founder of what is now Adaptive Sports, who died in 1986; his co-founder, friend and world-class athlete Lana Jo Chapin; and their student and even more highly decorated competitor Mary Riddell.

All three should be an inspiration to all of us, able-bodied and disabled, to get out there and live with gusto.

Spencer, who died far too young at age 26, “was a fantastic skier,” someone from the audience said. Friend Kristin Hilliard accepted on his behalf.

Unfortunately, because of her 93-year-old father’s illness, Chapin was unable to attend, but Susan Kroes, who was the executive director of Adaptive Sports in the early 1990s, accepted for her. Chapin was a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team from 1984 to 1989, medaling at both the 1984 and 1988 Paralympics and the 1986 World Championships. She was also a key member of the team that trained Riddell.

Riddell had the crowd on their feet. At 34, the youngest inductee to date, she began skiing with Spencer at the age of 3. Riddell has won so many medals and awards she and husband, Joe Bowman, and new baby, Sawyer, probably had to dedicate a room in their Boulder home to them. Among them are 27 national titles, 11 World Cup individual crystal globes plus two gold, two silver and two bronze medals from the Paralympics in Salt Lake City and Nagano, Japan. The 2000 Colorado Sports Woman of the Year, she now has a beautiful marble plaque to add to her display…

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