SKI for MS returns to Squaw; series celebrates 35 years of fundraising |

SKI for MS returns to Squaw; series celebrates 35 years of fundraising

SKI for MS schedule

8:30-9:45 a.m. – Registration at Alpenglow with free breakfast burritos at the Coffeebar

9:30-10 a.m. - Jimmy Heuga ring dedication at Coffeebar

10 a.m. – First chair with Jonny Moseley at Squaw One Chairlift

10 a.m.-3 p.m. – Vertical Challenge

1-2 p.m. – Amateur ski races at Nastar Race Course

2:30 p.m. – Jimmie Heuga celebration ski down (begins at the bottom of the race course)

2:45-5 p.m. – Après party at the Auld Dubliner

The SKI for MS series is returning to Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows on Saturday for a day of skiing and riding while raising funds to support families living with multiple sclerosis.

Squaw Valley is one of eight stops as part this year’s nationwide series, which is celebrating its 35th year and is organized by nonprofit Can Do Multiple Sclerosis.

Squaw has hosted the event for more than 25 years, and, according to organizers, raised more than $82,000 at last year’s SKI for MS fundraiser.

“We’re hoping to top that this year,” said Director of Marketing & Communications Alisa Santiesteban.

The goal for the entire series is to ski 5,000,000 feet across seven mountain and raise $250,000 for families living with multiple sclerosis.

Last year, Olympic and World Cup champion Jonny Moseley joined the fray, helping to bring additional awareness to the cause by offering a chance to ski, learn from, and race with him.

“One of my favorite things to do is ski with people,” said Moseley ahead of last year’s event.

This year, SKI for MS is introducing a new element to the event, Jonny Moseley’s Vertical Challenge. Participants will have 5 hours to carve out as many vertical feet as they can with a goal of collectively skiing and riding 575,000 feet at Squaw Valley and raising $110,000. More than $54,000 has already been raised as of Thursday morning.

The goal for the entire series is to ski 5 million feet across seven mountain and raise $250,000 for families living with multiple sclerosis.

Legendary Roots

SKI for MS has its origins rooted alongside one of America’s great alpine skiers.

Before the 1964 winter Olympics, no American male alpine racer had stepped on the podium at an Olympic games, but that all changed when Squaw Valley skier Jimmie Heuga and legendary racer Billy Kidd hit the course near Innsbruck, Austria.

Kidd and Heuga were sensational during the games, putting an end to the American drought in alpine racing by capturing silver and bronze, respectively.

After competing in the 1968 Olympics, Heuga was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, kicking off a decades-long fight against the disease.

In 1985, the ski community rallied behind Heuga for the first annual Snow Express for MS in Alyeska, Alaska, according to Can Do Multiple Sclerosis, which included 10 Olympians that broke records by skiing 1 million vertical feet in 24 hours.

From that event, Can Do Multiple Sclerosis was later formed, and since that time, SKI for MS has grown into a nationwide series.

Heuga died in 2010 at the age of 66. The program that he started, according to SKI for MS officials, has raised more than $12 million, thus far.

Registration for the SKI for MS Vertical Challenge costs $50 and includes complimentary food and drinks throughout the day, and access to the après party, which includes prizes, live music, and free beer. Registration can be done onsite on Saturday morning at Alpenglow or online at

*The previous post incorrectly stated Jimmy Heuga and Billy Kidd were the first American alpine skiers to podium at an Olympics. They were the first American male skiers to earn Olympic medals. Gretchen Fraser, Andrea Mead Lawrence, Penny Pitou, and Betsy Snite had won medals at previous Olympics.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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