It is time to welcome 250 junior alpine ski racers to the 37th annual Dan Prater Memorial Cup for a four-day festival set for February 23-26. The Prater Cup is a U14 Junior Championship event for athletes age 11 to 13 from three different states.
So enjoy a weekend full of great ski racing and fun starting Thursday at 4 p.m.
The event originated in 1980 after Dan’s passing October 6, 1979. Dan’s friend, Paul Puckett, started the first Prater Memorial in March of 1980 in his honor. Dan, a local businessman and ski club promoter from Wichita, Kansas, fell in love with Crested Butte after his childhood babysitter, Dick Eflin, founded the resort in 1960. Dan moved here, started the first lumberyard and devoted much of his free time and financial support to helping the junior ski racers compete on the regional racing circuit. Paul had young sons with a passion for racing and felt Dan’s contributions should be recognized. Crested Butte has been the host site for this longstanding event ever since.
For the last 37 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. 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 not only compete with race results but must also show good sportsmanship, do good deeds, help race officials, show country spirit and leave the event with new friends from other ski clubs. They are rewarded with great prizes that Dan’s daughter local Stephanie Prater receives from the ski industry, once their Prater Passports are tallied up.
Prizes include goggles and glasses from Oakley, Smith, Bolle & Giro, Hestra gloves, Poc, Bula, Spyder, 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, family and friends help make this event extra special by donating money for the event t-shirt that Dan’s youngest daughter, Criss, designs.
Also, Red Lady Realty, Artisan Rugs, A & A Mechanical, 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. Thanks to the West Wall for allowing the BBQ on their property and big thanks to CBMR, Patti Hensley, Woody Lindenmeyr and all the volunteers for the effort that goes into this amazing week of ski racing. Also a special thanks goes out to Edward Jones Investments for coming on board with a financial contribution.