In remembrance

Helmets on sale in honor of fallen teen

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— Gina Gmeiner owns a ski helmet, but she didn't wear it regularly until her close friend, Landon Sawyer, was killed in a skiing accident. The accident happened one year ago Saturday.

"Now I wear one full time in honor of him and to be safe," Gmeiner said.

Several local businesses are doing their part to honor Landon Morely Sawyer, a former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club member, by offering 10 percent to 30 percent off helmets on Saturday.

Gmeiner and her family, in turn, are donating $50 on behalf of the businesses to the foundation created in Sawyer's name.

"I am going around to stores in honor of Landon and those that have been killed in accidents," Gmeiner said.

Those businesses offering discounted helmets are Backdoor Sports, Breeze Ski Rentals, Christy Sports, The Click, One Stop Ski Shop, RideSports, Ski Haus, Ski Kare and SportStalker.

On Feb. 1, 2002, after training in Monarch, Sawyer and some friends were coming down an intermediate run. Approaching a blind corner, one of Sawyer's friends was popped off a knoll. Sawyer jumped to the left to avoid hitting his friend, but he caught an edge and collided with a tree. Sawyer was 19 years old.

He was not wearing a helmet, but it was determined a helmet would not have saved his life. Oftentimes, however, helmets do save lives or prevent serious injury; that's why Landon Sawyer's mother, Linda Sawyer, is so appreciative of Gmeiner's efforts in Steamboat.

Sawyer and Gmeiner met while he was attending the Lowell Whiteman School and training with the Winter Sports Club freestyle team. He lived in Steamboat for two years -- his freshman and sophomore years -- before moving to Boise, Idaho, after growing 5 inches in one season.

"He felt physically that he had to regroup," Linda Sawyer said. "The only reason he ended up leaving was because he had a growth spurt. He loved the school and the Winter Sports Club program."

Five memorial services were held for Sawyer, his mother said. It became clear how many people he touched during his life, so the family quickly formed the Landon Morely Sawyer Foundation. One of the foundation's goals is to supply scholarships to financially needy skiers.

"We wanted to see what we could do to help skiers, which is what he would have wanted us to do," Linda Sawyer said.

Sawyer used to joke about skiing for Israel in the Olympics -- his family is Jewish -- so an Israeli skier training in Israel was one of the first recipients of a foundation scholarship.

It is this scholarship that Gmeiner is raising money and awareness for this weekend.

"I think everyone came together and said we have to keep his spirit living," Gmeiner said.

Linda Sawyer said there is no limit on scholarships, and anyone can apply. A board reviews the applications before awarding training scholarships worth up to $2,000. A coach's award is also being established for up to $5,000.

The foundation also helped revamp a moguls course in Bogus Basin, Idaho. In March, during the U.S. Freestyle National Championships at Bogus Basin, the course will be renamed "Landos Mojo," in honor of Sawyer.

The foundation is also looking at possible sites to build an international training center for skiers.

"We are doing a lot of work," Linda Sawyer said. "Landon was an amazing young man."

Skiers or coaches interested in applying for scholarships, or anyone interested in learning more about the Landon Morely Sawyer Foundation, can access its Web site at www.landosmojo.org.

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