STRATTON -- After years of finding success in the world of professional snowboarding, one of its major stars will receive an award from the United States Ski and Snowboard Association acknowledging his dedication to assisting other athletes.
Stratton Mountain School Snowboard Program Director Ross Powers will receive the association’s Giving Back Award at its National Congress event on May 16.
"It’s very exciting," he said. "It’s definitely an honor."
The award will be given to highlight his philanthropic work with the Level Field Fund and the Ross Powers Foundation, which have assisted athletes financially so that they could participate in competitions regardless of the cost.
Powers said that the foundation was established to help out athletes and give them a fair chance.
"Where they take it is very rewarding," he continued. "So this is just some icing on the cake."
He began the Ross Powers Foundation in 2001. It originally only funded snowboarders. Then it expanded to include athletes involved in winter sports.
The Level Field Fund was created as a program for the foundation, which Powers collaborated with other leading athletes to establish. Funding criteria is based on financial need, unique athletic potential, requested use of funds and availability of alternative sources of funding.
While growing up, Powers received financial assistance. The Bromley Outing Club gave him a $500 grant so that he could get to the annual United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association’s Nationals event.
That competition, he says, opened his eyes to snowboarding and made him work harder.
Powers, who now lives in Jamaica but grew up in Londonderry, became a student at Stratton Mountain School, which granted him scholarship money to make his going to contests possible. Later, he made it on the United States Snowboard Team and was sponsored.
"People have helped me out along the way," he said. "I want to give back and hopefully give them some of the experiences I had, just for love of sport and competition. I just feel right about doing it."
In addition to the recognition of his efforts, the USSA will donate $5,000 to the Level Field Fund.
Powers believed that overall, the Level Playing Fund has assisted over 100 athletes. 11 athletes had received grants who then made it to the Olympics. This year at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, three of them won medals, including freeskiers Devin Logan, Nick Goepper and snowboarder Alex Deibold.
"That was the first time we helped athletes that won medals," said Powers. "It’s showing that its worthwhile."
Currently, the Level Field Fund provides funding for all sports. Cross country skiers to bobsledders to swimmers have benefited from the program.
"We’re trying to help out all sports," said Powers.
During the Vermont Open snowboard and music festival in March, there was a poker game that raised some money for the Level Field Fund. The Vermont Open also donated some money to the organization. There is also an annual golf tournament held in Stratton during the fall that goes to benefit the program.
"Whatever we can do to raise money and give it back to athletes, we try to accomplish that," said Powers.
For more information, visit levelfieldfund.org.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.