Gang hopes to help local winter athletes

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The members of the Over the Hill Gang understand the financial pressures young athletes and their families in Steamboat Springs face every winter.

The high cost of equipment, coaching and competing are often major hurdles for athletes along the road to their ultimate goal -- whether that's skiing in the Olympic Games or just developing a lifelong love for their sport.

"It's tough," said Phil Durian, spokesman for the Over the Hill Gang. "The financial demands on these kids are very, very high."

To help make things a little easier, the 300 members of the Over the Hill Gang awarded 15 scholarships totaling $9,000 this week as part of the gang's financial assistance program. This is the ninth straight year the group has offered funds.

Durian said the funds for the scholarships come directly from the gang's membership dues and are handed out to winter sports athletes (not just skiers) based on financial need, the athletes' potential for success and their academic endeavors.

"We always try to announce the winners before the holidays," Durian said. "This is the time of year when these athletes need the money, plus it's a nice gift to get around the holidays."

This year's winners are Alpine skiers Marsh Gooding, 18, Robyn Dye, 16, and Cory McConnell; freestyle skiers Gina Gmeiner, 20, and Caterina Mader; snowboarders David Manthei, 19, Paul Innes, 15, and Davis Johnson, 17; Nordic skiers Alex Glueck, 22, Mike Gleason, 17, Sarah MacCarthy, 17, Kyle Steitz, 14, and Korie Steitz, 17.

Katie Conrath, who competes in Alpine and Nordic skiing events in high school, and 16-year-old figure skater Jenny Spencer also received funds.

The gang received 27 qualified applications for this year's scholarships and made final decisions last month.

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