Middlebury's Brush honored for perseverance
A former Middlebury College skier has been honored by the NCAA Honors Committee as the organization's 2009 Inspiration Award recipient for her work in raising funds and awareness for spinal cord injuries and adaptive skiing.
Kelly Brush was paralyzed Feb. 18, 2006, while competing in the giant slalom for Middlebury at the Williams College Winter Carnival. She caught an edge, struck a lift tower, and fractured her spine, ribs, and a vertebra in her neck. Brush underwent 10 hours of surgery to realign and stabilize her spine, followed by 10 weeks of intense rehabilitation.
Brush can use her arms, but she has had to learn to navigate life in a wheelchair.
In the summer of 2006, Brush and her family established the Kelly Brush Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving ski racing safety and purchasing adaptive skiing equipment for people with spinal injuries. The Kelly Brush Century Bike Ride raised more than $145,000 in donations.
After the accident, Brush returned to Middlebury, resumed her class work, and continued as an active member of the ski team while learning to mono-ski. She graduated last year.
"I'm touched to receive this honor from the NCAA," said Brush, who grew up in Charlotte, Vt. "Sports have been such a vital part of my life that when I had my accident, I never thought about living any differently."
The Inspiration Award honors an NCAA athlete, coach, or administrator who uses perseverance, dedication, and determination to overcome a life-altering situation and to become a role model for others in similar situations.
The women's free skiing movement is getting a boost with the first slopestyle event. Skiing slopestyle, where competitors take a long feature-laden run over jumps, rails, gaps, and kickers, has been a male-only offering for eight years. Eight women will compete in the finals and will be judged on their style, creativity, and tricks. The best of two runs determines the outcome.
Though the event is new, the competitors aren't. Canadian freeskier Sarah Burke and 25-year-old Jessica Cumming, who grew up in Wilton, Conn., are in the mix.
With the Olympics a year away, Winter X 13 will also feature the world's top Olympic snowboarders, including Lindsey Jacobellis, Gretchen Bleiler, Shaun White, Danny Kass, Kelly Clark, and Hannah Teter.
Yesterday, ESPN and the Aspen Skiing Co. agreed to a contract extension that will keep the Winter X Games in Colorado through 2012. This is the eighth straight year the Games will be held in Aspen.
Schlopy, 36, was a seven-time US champion. Born in Buffalo, he attended Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont, where he was the J1 giant slalom and slalom champion at 16.
"My memories of him as a little kid are so cool," said Crawford Pierce, who coached Schlopy at Burke before moving to the US Ski Team coaching staff with Schlopy in 1991. "He was curious, creative, and so skilled. He had a willingness to try new things with his skiing and had a very philosophical approach to both skiing and school. He was a guy that took charge of life."