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Methow Olympic Development Project

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The Methow Olympic Development Project is one of four branches of the non-profit Methow Valley Ski Educational Foundation. Its goal is to take young athletes selected from the Methow Valley Nordic Team to the highest level of ski competition.

The other branches of the foundation are the Methow Valley Nordic Club, the Methow Valley Nordic Team and Methow Valley Biathalon.

The Nordic Club, oriented to adults, was founded in 1995 to support and develop local Nordic skiing. Activities include social events such as the 15th annual fund-raising ski ball and auction scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Barn in Winthrop; the annual three-day Nordic ski camp at Sun Mountain Lodge, and various races and training programs. Profits from these events, which are self-supporting, go toward scholarships for members of the junior ski program.

The Methow Valley Nordic Team, is a ski program for junior skiers up to age 18, both recreational skiers and competitive racers. Coaching, equipment and special camps and training are among the needs of the juniors partly met by the ski foundation.

Methow Valley Biathalon is the fourth branch of the foundation. This sport combines shooting rifles and cross-country skiing. The Methow Valley has one of the largest junior programs in the nation, according to Betsy Devin-Smith, a master’s biathalon champion and volunteer coach.

According to the Methow Valley Nordic website, ski program supporters also can make tax-deductible contributions earmarked for the Elite Opportunity Fund, newly formed this year to support graduates of the Nordic team who have been selected by a national governing body to compete in sanctioned international events and training camps.

Four local elite skiers have qualified for support this year. They are Sadie Bjornsen, Eric Bjornsen, Brian Gregg and Casey Smith. All but Gregg are college students.

The Bjornsens will compete with their separate squads of the U.S. Ski Team; Smith is a member of the U.S. Biathalon Junior National Team; Gregg, who plans to compete through the 2014 season, is a distance Nordic skier in both skate and classic events.

Donations for any of the above programs can be sent to the Methow Valley Nordic Ski Educational Foundation, PO Box 391, Winthrop, WA 98862.