The 31st running of the Steve Young ski race pitting Wasatch Adaptive Sports participants against professional athletes ran with great success today at Snowbird Ski Resort. Under sunny skies and pleasant temperatures, the pros were once again trounced by the adaptive crowd.

Ski course view.

Raceway of Champions

Your correspondent was fortunate enough to spend time with two of the 50+ racers and WAS veterans. Sophie, age 9 and fluent in Mandarin, was taking no guff from Chad Lewis, former NFL player and BYU Assistant Athletics Director and told him so in her native tongue. Conveniently Chad also speaks Mandarin and let it be known no holds were barred. Sadly, for the former Philadelphia Eagle, he ate crow crossing the finish line.

Sophie told Canyon Blog her favorite aspect of skiing with WAS and the races was speed, an ability in which she excels. Mom Rebecca informed your correspondent that before arriving at WAS three years ago Sophie had never walked. Working with WAS instructors she not only began her skiing career using standup skis, but her progress amazed everyone. She took her first steps within weeks of her ski lessons. An amazing transformation and testament to the power of positive thinking and hard work, and the professional dedication of the WAS team. Did I mention she’s a cutie?

Sophie with family.

The Look of a Champion

Erion, age 33, is a perennial WAS team favorite. At  6’6”, the former college basketball star’s career and life were upended by an auto immune disease. Ironically, he now says skiing competitively, something he’d never done before, might have edged out playing hoop. States Erion, “Of the past few years, skiing (with WAS) has been the best activity I’ve done. They allow me to say, ‘I can do this’”.

Erion and Koko.

Erion and Koko.

Erion’s not nearly as cute as Sophie. To compensate he uses Koko, his two-year-old black lab as kryptonite on anyone within reach. Reserving her own lucky number (43), Koko swept the canine race division. To be fair, she was the only dog.

Undisputed K9 Division Champ Koko.

Undisputed K9 Division Champ Koko

After the final heat medals were awarded to the victors (no pros won) and some serious Karaoke was had before lunch was served for all. Elizabeth Jahp, assistant WAS director, had this to say as her team wrapped up the 2017 ski season. “This year has been absolutely incredible. Progress toward participant goals was fantastic and community support unprecedented.”

So check in with the friendly WAS staff this fall at their new offices in the Creekside Center and spend some time with these inspiring mountain athletes. Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected] if you’d like to become involved or donate. For skiers, it’s hard to find a worthier cause on the mountain. Tell ‘em Dano sent you.