Disabled Sports USA Hosts The Hartford Ski Spectacular, Nation's Largest Winter Sports Event for Physically Disabled

04 December 2009

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo.—Dec. 4, 2009—Disabled Sports USA (DS/USA) today announced it will host the 22nd annual The Hartford Ski Spectacular, the nation’s largest winter sports festival hosting more than 700 participants. The event provides adaptive ski/snowboard and race programs, youth mentorship, alpine and Nordic competitions and instructor training. Held at the Beaver Run Resort on the slopes of the Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge, Colo. Dec. 6-13, the event is sponsored by The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE:HIG), the founding sponsor of U.S. Paralympics. U.S. Paralympics is a major sponsor of The Hartford Ski Spectacular.
 “For the 16th consecutive year, The Hartford is proud to sponsor this important program that helps people with disabilities learn new skills and build their confidence—whether they are Wounded Warriors learning to ski, youth improving their racing skills or elite athletes,” said Ron Gendreau, executive vice president of The Hartford’s Group Benefits Division, the leading U.S. seller of group disability insurance. "This inspiring event is a perfect demonstration of The Hartford's Ability Philosophy in action.”
Supporting Disabled Skiers of all Levels
The Hartford Ski Spectacular will include training camps; followed on Dec.14 and 15 with Slalom and Giant Slalom competitions to prepare the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver. The National Race Festival enables aspiring young racers and Wounded Warriors of all abilities to advance their skills alongside the best disabled racers and coaches in the country, including the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team.  Instructors and volunteers from local disabled skiing programs throughout the nation will attend classes on the latest adaptive skiing methods. The only program of its kind, the Instructor Academy is sanctioned by the Professional Ski Instructors of America/American Association of Snowboard Instructors.
More than 100 U.S. Wounded Warriors, their families and hospital staff will participate in the Learn-to-Ski, Learn-to-Race, and mentor programs. For five years, the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project, a partnership between Disabled Sports USA and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), a partnership between DS/USA and national partner Wounded Warrior Project, hascoordinated adaptive sporting events for Wounded Warriors across the country. Several Wounded Warriors who have participated in The Hartford Ski Spectacular in previous years are returning to serve as mentors and instructors to first-time participants.
 “The Hartford Ski Spectacular has a long-standing tradition of introducing disabled athletes to skiing—from those taking to the slopes for the first time to those vying for a chance to represent the country at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games,” said DS/USA Executive Director Kirk Bauer, who lost a leg from a hand grenade during an ambush while serving in the Ninth Combat Infantry Division in Vietnam. “In this Paralympic year, we are particularly proud to host a major Paralympic qualifying event. It is incredibly motivating for our younger racers and learn-to-ski participants to watch athletes who once participated in The Hartford Ski Spectacular advance to compete at the elite levels of the sport.”
 “The Hartford Ski Spectacular’s racing camp provides instruction from the nation’s best coaches and support from current members of the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team,” said Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics, U.S. Olympic Committee. “We look forward to expanding our partnership with DS/USA to provide opportunities for kids and veterans with physical disabilities to pursue their dreams at future Paralympic Games.”
A complete schedule of events can be found online at:
The Hartford Ski Spectacular is sponsored by The Hartford. Additional sponsors include U.S. Paralympics (a National Partner of DS/USA); the Wounded Warrior Project, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Professional Ski Instructors of America/American Association of Snowboard Instructors, DS/USA host chapter Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, Competition and Education Chapter National Sports Center for the Disabled, Breckenridge Sports and Schwartz Communications. 
You can follow the action at The Hartford Ski Spectacular on Twitter and Facebook. Look for @TheHartford and #skispec on Twitter and TheHartford on Facebook
About Disabled Sports USA: Rebuilding Lives through sports. "If I can do this, I can do anything!"
Founded in 1967 by disabled Vietnam veterans, the mission of Disabled Sport USA is to provide national leadership and opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in community sports, recreation and educational programs. The organization is the nation’s largest multi-sport, multi-disability organization, with over 100 chapters in 38 states and serves more than 60,000 people nationwide. A member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, DS/USA conducts regional and national sports rehabilitation programs and competition development programs to identify and prepare athletes for the Paralympic Games—the international Olympic-sanctioned competitions for athletes with physical disabilities. More information is available at www.dsusa.org.
About The Hartford
Celebrating nearly 200 years, The Hartford (NYSE: HIG) is an insurance-based financial services company that serves households, businesses and employees by helping to protect their assets and income from risks, and by managing wealth and retirement needs.   A Fortune 500 company, The Hartford is recognized widely for its service expertise and as one of the world’s most ethical companies. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at www.thehartford.com.
About U.S. Paralympics
U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and promoting excellence in the lives of people with physical disabilities. 
Since its formation in 2001, U.S. Paralympics has been inspiring Americans to achieve their dreams. 
Through education, sports programs and partnerships with community organizations, medical facilities and government agencies, U.S. Paralympics is making a difference in the lives of thousands of physically disabled people every day. 
Addressing an Urgent Need
Today, there are more than 21 million Americans with a physical disability.  In the past few years, thousands of military personnel have sustained serious injuries during active duty.  Research shows that daily physical activity enhances not only and individual's self-esteem and peer relationships, it also results in increased achievement, better overall health, and higher quality of life.  However, despite these findings, most individuals with physical disabilities do not have the opportunity to participate in any regular sports activity. U.S. Paralympics is working hard to address this important national issue. 
About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is a non?profit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors. WWP serves to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, to help severely injured service members aid and assist each other and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. For more information, please call 877 TEAM WWP (832?6997) or visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org

About Vail Resorts
Vail Resorts, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. The Company's subsidiaries operate the mountain resort properties of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone mountain resorts in Colorado, Heavenly Mountain Resort in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The Company's subsidiary, RockResorts, a luxury resort hotel company, manages casually elegant properties across the United States and the Caribbean. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN). The Vail Resorts company website is www.vailresorts.com and the consumer website is www.snow.com.


Chris Stamm or Andrea Hawley
Schwartz Communications, Inc.
(781) 684-0770
Kelly J. Carter
The Hartford
(860) 843-9420
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