Ajax Cup earns $265K for AVSC
The Ajax Cup, Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s primary fundraiser, netted $265,000 for scholarships from this season’s event, the biggest and most competitive race in the cup’s three-year history.
All proceeds from the Dec. 30 celebrity ski race on Aspen Mountain, hosted by actor Antonio Banderas, will be used for youth scholarships.
Competition was heated on that late December day as Team Ganzi, 2011’s winner, narrowly edged upstart Team Potamkin, a first-year entrant whose members included three AVSC athletes, Hannah, Livi and Elsie Clauss, and their dad, Andy Clauss, along with former World Cup skier Kristina Koznick, senior racer Amanda McDonald and Riley Ganzi.
In a race so close and competitive that judges had to compute the team members’ handicaps before a final winner could be named, Team Ganzi, led by Grant Ganzi and including pro Jake Zamansky, Mariah Zanca, Jeremy Oates, Mike Davies, Aaron Priest and Garrett Fisher, edged Team Potamkin in the final run.
With 14 teams dueling it out in head-to-head racing, this was the largest field in the Ajax Cup’s three-year history.
Seven-member teams paid $25,000 for the race entry fee and the gala apres-ski party at the St. Regis that was hosted by Banderas. The party, which sold out, also offered a limited number of tickets to the general public.
“This was our biggest and best Ajax Cup ever,” said Mark Cole, AVSC’s executive director. “The money we raised will go a long way towards ensuring that every child in the Roaring Fork Valley has the opportunity to ski or snowboard.”
One in three AVSC members are on scholarship and very few of the athletes’ families pay the true program costs, which also are subsidized. This year, there are more than 1,650 kids in AVSC’s Base Camp programs, which appeal to recreational athletes. Total club membership numbers more than 2,200 participants.
Jason Smith goes Rock Bottom
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) has announced the hire of Jason Smith as Rock Bottom Ranch director.
Smith brings 13 years of work experience as a business manager, chef and farmer, and comes to ACES from North Carolina where he ran a farm with his wife Sarah, producing over 100 varieties of vegetables, heritage breed pigs, chickens, goats, turkeys and more. Prior to his agricultural endeavors, Smith worked in the restaurant industry, including The Little Nell and other establishments. He now holds certificates in agricultural sustainability, organic crop production and sustainable livestock production. He is enthusiastic about educating others, and has worked with students of all ages on topics related to sustainable agriculture.
Rock Bottom Ranch serves as ACES’ midvalley hub for environmental education, wildlands preservation and sustainable agriculture. The 113-acre wildlife preserve and demonstration ranch sits between the Roaring Fork River and the crown of Mt. Sopris, and is located midway between Basalt and Carbondale on the Rio Grande Trail.
ACES acquired the ranch from Charlie Cole in 1999 with an agreement to protect the property’s riparian habitat, to broaden the nonprofit’s educational outreach programs throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, and to explore the complex interaction between agriculture and natural ecosystems along the Roaring Fork River. In the coming year, Rock Bottom Ranch will continue and expand naturalist field school programs, daily farm tours, as well as a variety of on-farm events.
ACES is a 44-year-old nonprofit environmental science education center with four sites in the Roaring Fork Valley. ACES works to build a community of knowledgeable, capable and motivated environmental stewards. ACES teaches people about the natural world through environmental science education and promotes ecological literacy.
Basalt schools gets awarded $70,000 for various funding
Basalt Education Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing education in Basalt public schools has awarded nearly $70,000 to support various programs. Basalt elementary, middle and high schools each received more than $20,000 in funding from the profits raised through BEF’s annual Taste of Basalt benefit held in November.
Among the programs receiving financial support this year are the ACES environmental science curriculum at Basalt Elementary School, ($10,000); enhancements to the computer lab at Basalt Middle School, ($14,000); and staff development and enrichment programs at Basalt High School ($7,300). Other allocations include $5,000 to support outdoor and experiential education at all three schools; $5,000 for textbooks and supplemental reading books; nearly $8,000 for computer hardware, software and online resources; $6,000 for playground and physical education equipment and classes; and $3,200 to support art, band, music and choir programs.
Over the years, proceeds from the Taste of Basalt have provided over $320,000 in funding for Basalt schools. An all-volunteer board, BEF operates with zero overhead, allowing for almost all proceeds to be used to support educational endeavors at Basalt schools.
For more information, visit www.basaltedu.org .