Girls on Skis
(page 3 of 3)
After a life of national and world-renowned skiing, Christin Cooper, one of the most beloved skiers ever to come out of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, is treating herself to the good life.
Living between Bozeman, Montana, and Aspen, Colorado, for the past 20 years, Cooper, 47, hasn’t forgotten where she came from.
Once a year she returns to help fellow skier Terry Palmer with the Janss Pro Am Classic to benefit the SVSEF. Palmer got the idea from Cooper and her husband, Mark Taché, when the two started the Taché Pro Am, which helps raise money for the Aspen Ski Program.
“It’s good to give back,” Cooper says. “That’s what it’s all about. We both [Taché and Cooper] come from what was a once-small ski town. It has made both of our lives better. We feel like we are the people we are today because of the programs we went through. It’s very important to give back to skiing.” Cooper was a silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics and there is a run named for her in Sun Valley. Taché skied internationally for the U.S. Ski Team.
Since retiring from competitive skiing in 1985, Cooper has moved on with her life. She and Taché got into the restaurant business in Bozeman, co-founding the Mackenzie River Pizza Co. (1993) and Montana Ale Works (2000) restaurant concepts. “With partners, we were involved in the growth and expansion of Mackenzie River to 12 stores statewide in Montana over the past decade, but recently (2006) sold our interests to our former partner, retaining only the original flagship Mackenzie in downtown Bozeman, which we still own and operate 100 percent. So we now own and operate the original Mackenzie River Pizza Co., and with two partners, Montana Ale Works, both located in downtown Bozeman.”
Cooper says the work ethic she learned in the SVSEF prepared her for life, and not just for skiing. Even though Cooper doesn’t race anymore, the competitive nature and the lust for adventure has never left as her new hobbies are biking and rock climbing.
But, she adds, “We are still avid skiers who eagerly anticipate the first snows like the children we once were.”
Elitsa’s life has been an eventful one, to say the least. She was born in Bulgaria, with birth defects to some of her fingers, while her right leg was significantly shorter than her left, which was missing a knee and an ankle joint. Living as an orphan at the age of five, Janis and Gary Storey adopted Elitsa and brought her to Sun Valley. When she was six her right leg was amputated.
Getting into skiing to follow her three older brothers, Storey became a three-tracker, someone who skis on one ski while using outriggers (poles with shortened skis on the bottom that attach to the athlete’s arms) for balance. Storey then joined the SVSEF as a downhill skier and at age 12 she was competing in disabled races. Five years later, she took third in the 2005 U.S. Disabled Alpine Championships in downhill, slalom, giant slalom and Super G.
Now, Storey is on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team and will compete in the 2007 Paralympics in Torino, Italy. While training, Storey attends Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which is a two-year school that combines academics with outdoors. She says that she’s trying to juggle skiing full time and school, which is slowly coming together. She also added that her first year in college was a nice experience; however, being on the SVSEF has taught her independence before she even reached the age of 18.
“The program changes you as an athlete and as a person,” Storey says. “You become more independent. You gain a lot of life’s lessons.”
Storey has been traveling the world since she was 16 years old and realized that there is more than just Sun Valley. This February, Storey plans on competing with the national team in Japan and South Korea.
For a disabled athlete, Storey says that her disability hasn’t slowed her down.
“For me it was a great experience [in the SVSEF] and very welcoming,” she says. “We had good times traveling and growing up knowing the sport and gaining different aspects of it.”
For now, Storey is just being a regular college student, but when winter comes along, she’s more than just a student, she’s one of the best skiers in the nation and hopes that she’ll be on the podium hoisting gold soon enough.