Disabled Sports USA hosts The Hartford Ski Spectacular

Dec. 03, 2009, 12:40 p.m. (ET)

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo.-Disabled Sports USA (DS/USA) has announced it will host the 22nd annual The Hartford Ski Spectacular, the nation's largest winter sports festival hosting more than 700 participants. The event provides adaptive ski/snowboard and race programs, youth mentorship, alpine and Nordic competitions and instructor training. Held at the Beaver Run Resort on the slopes of the Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge, Colo. Dec. 6-13, the event is sponsored by The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE:HIG), the founding sponsor of U.S. Paralympics. U.S. Paralympics is a major sponsor of The Hartford Ski Spectacular.

"For the 16th consecutive year, The Hartford is proud to sponsor this important program that helps people with disabilities learn new skills and build their confidence-whether they are Wounded Warriors learning to ski, youth improving their racing skills or elite athletes," said Ron Gendreau, executive vice president of The Hartford's Group Benefits Division, the leading U.S. seller of group disability insurance. "This inspiring event is a perfect demonstration of The Hartford's Ability Philosophy in action."

Supporting Disabled Skiers of all Levels
The Hartford Ski Spectacular will include training camps; followed on Dec.14 and 15 with Slalom and Giant Slalom competitions to prepare the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver. The National Race Festival enables aspiring young racers and Wounded Warriors of all abilities to advance their skills alongside the best disabled racers and coaches in the country, including the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team.  Instructors and volunteers from local disabled skiing programs throughout the nation will attend classes on the latest adaptive skiing methods. The only program of its kind, the Instructor Academy is sanctioned by the Professional Ski Instructors of America/American Association of Snowboard Instructors.

More than 100 U.S. Wounded Warriors, their families and hospital staff will participate in the Learn-to-Ski, Learn-to-Race, and mentor programs. For five years, the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project, a partnership between Disabled Sports USA and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), a partnership between DS/USA and national partner Wounded Warrior Project, has coordinated adaptive sporting events for Wounded Warriors across the country. Several Wounded Warriors who have participated in The Hartford Ski Spectacular in previous years are returning to serve as mentors and instructors to first-time participants.

"The Hartford Ski Spectacular has a long-standing tradition of introducing disabled athletes to skiing-from those taking to the slopes for the first time to those vying for a chance to represent the country at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games," said DS/USA Executive Director Kirk Bauer, who lost a leg from a hand grenade during an ambush while serving in the Ninth Combat Infantry Division in Vietnam. "In this Paralympic year, we are particularly proud to host a major Paralympic qualifying event. It is incredibly motivating for our younger racers and learn-to-ski participants to watch athletes who once participated in The Hartford Ski Spectacular advance to compete at the elite levels of the sport."

"The Hartford Ski Spectacular's racing camp provides instruction from the nation's best coaches and support from current members of the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team," said Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics, U.S. Olympic Committee. "We look forward to expanding our partnership with DS/USA to provide opportunities for kids and veterans with physical disabilities to pursue their dreams at future Paralympic Games."

A complete schedule of events can be found online at:

The Hartford Ski Spectacular is sponsored by The Hartford. Additional sponsors include U.S. Paralympics (a National Partner of DS/USA); the Wounded Warrior Project, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Professional Ski Instructors of America/American Association of Snowboard Instructors, DS/USA host chapter Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, Competition and Education Chapter National Sports Center for the Disabled, Breckenridge Sports and Schwartz Communications. 

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