Two hundred and fifty junior alpine ski racers are expected to compete in the 36th annual Dan Prater Memorial cup, set for February 18-21. The Prater Cup is a U14 Junior Championship event for athletes age 11 to 13. The event originated in 1980 in memory of local ski club promoter Dan Prater, a Wichita, Kan. man who fell in love with Crested Butte in the early ‘70s, moved here and devoted much of his free time and financial support to helping the junior ski racers compete on the regional racing circuit.
For the last 36 years, first as a J4 Championship and then as a Junior Olympic event and now the U14 Junior Championship Qualifier, the Prater Cup has been the most celebrated race in the Rocky Mountain region for this age class of racers. “The kids take this race very seriously, because if they don’t do well here, their season could be almost over,” said organizer Steph Prater.
The event is also a great opportunity for socializing and sportsmanship with the country team awards (a Prater tradition) created by the late Bill Sweitzer. The kids are divided into teams upon arrival and compete not only with race results but must also show good sportsmanship, do good deeds and help others while they are here to be rewarded with great prizes that Dan’s daughter, local Stephanie Prater, receives from the ski industry. Prizes come from Oakley, Smith and Bolle, Giro, Hestra Gloves, Poc, Bula, Spyder, K2, Dakine and MSP.
This approach helps build long-lasting relationships and supports the whole “team spirit” aspect of things. Alpine Orthopedics and Moore Orthopedic donate event bags and water bottles and local businesses, families and friends help make this event extra special by donating money for the event t-shirt. Also, Red Lady Realty, Artisan Rugs, Avalanche Bar & Grill, Secret Stash, McGill’s and Clark’s Market provide a wonderful barbecue on Saturday, prepared by the Garcia family, the Prater family and many friends, for the racers, parents and coaches.
Big thanks go to Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Patti Hensley, Woody Lindenmeyer and all the volunteers for the effort that goes into this long-standing event in Crested Butte.