Hot Dogging galore at Wong Fest
Freestyling philanthropists at Squaw Valley got off-axis, threw some grabs and pushed the new-school envelope for a good cause, while humanitarian hot doggers at Alpine Meadows twister-twister-spread-wormturn-wongbanged in the name of the old school.
The Wayne Wong Hotdog Skiing Festival raised approximately $20,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Squaw Valley hosted the Meredy Davidson Memorial Event April 7 and raised about $2,000 to send young skiers to summer ski camps.
The grassroots of freestyle went head to head with the torchbearers of today at the Wayne Wong Sunday. On hand was John Clendenin, member of the original K2 demo team and the star of the ski cult classic “The Performers;” “Bad” Bob Salerno, 1974 world freestyle champion; Bobby Howard, five-time world ballet champion; Scott Brooksbank, winner of the 1972 national freestyle skiing championships at Vail; and, of course, Wayne Wong himself.
The old timers contended with such rising stars as Travis Cabral. Cabral, 17, was but a distant twinkle in his mother’s eye when these guys were kings of the hills. Hot dog, the Ski Movie? For Cabral, hot dog means $3.50 at Coney Island Cones and Coffee.
Cabral, duly influenced by the heroes of yesteryear, told Wong should he make the Olympics he’ll throw a wormturn and a Wongbanger in the finish area. Wong said he was touched by the youngster’s respect.
“Travis is truly carrying on the spirit of hot dog skiing and freestyle skiing,” Wong said. “He really enjoys what he’s doing with the old school guys. I’ve been waiting for somebody to pass the torch on to and I truly believe that he will be the person to do that and keep this whole thing alive.”
The competition was won by Yale Spina in the over-40 category and by Curtis Tischler in the 39-and-under category.
While the new schooler Cabral was looking to the past, Squaw Valley freestyle coach Greg Harrington, certainly of the old school, looked to the future, by revamping the mogul course and throwing in a table top at the bottom of the course.
“We were kind of mixing new school with freestyle mogul skiing,” said Harrington, who admits that this is the first year he’s ventured into the terrain park. “We got a lot of the new school wanting to do [the Meredy Davidson] because of that. This could be where we’re going in the future with the big table top at the bottom.”
The event, which was won by Beck Jensen for the men and Far West skier of the year McKenzie Golding for the women, was in honor of Meredy Davidson, a young freestyle skier who died in a car accident on her return from a competition in Utah in 1996.
The money raised will be used to send two young freestyle skiers to summer ski camp.
This is the sixth year for both the Wayne Wong Festival and the Meredy Davidson Memorial Event.
Wong has been using his skiing celebrity for charitable purposes for over 15 years. He claims to have helped raise over $15 million for various charities in that time.
“That’s probably my real joy in life right now,” Wong said. “To use my skiing celebrity to help other people.”
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Several Truckee-Tahoe skiers will vie for Olympic medals next month.