Over the Hill Gang awards athletes

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— Helping young Steamboat athletes reach their goals has been the mission of the Over the Hill Gang for more than a decade.

This month, the organization awarded $6,500 to 10 Winter Sports Club athletes. All of the athletes live in Routt County and all of them have lofty aspirations in the world of winter sports.

"It's so expensive for the young athletes in our community to chase their dreams," said Kay Burch. Burch co-chaired the Over the Hill Gang's financial assistance selection committee this fall with Pat Aljanich. "We just want to give them a helping hand along the road to success."

This year, all of winners were skiers, Nordic combined athletes or snowboarders. However, Burch said the assistance isn't just for skiers or members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

"Any winter athlete is eligible for assistance," Burch said. "We would love to have more applications from skaters or hockey players."

The awards are handed out based on potential, financial need and academic efforts in the classroom. The dues paid by the more than 300 members of Steamboat's Over the Hill Gang generate the money for the program. Money also comes from donations and money raised by guiding non-members on the ski hill.

Local athletes receiving awards this year included Alpine skiers Abe Maynard, Cory McConnell, Ryan McConnell and Scott Ptach. Other winners included Nordic skiers Taylor Fletcher, Charlie Stoddard, Sam Chovan, Jasper Gantick and biathlete Melissa Krause. Snowboarder Chloe Banning also received assistance.

Athletes can receive an Over the Hill Gang award three times. Repeat winners included Chovan and McConnell.

Burch said it was difficult deciding which athletes deserved recognition this year and that all the applicants were strong.

She said the committee spent about a month going over the applications before sitting down as a group and selecting which 10 would get money this season.

The Over the Hill Gang has been handing out financial assistance for the past 11 years. Burch and co-chair Pat Aljanich want to encourage other young people in the community to apply for the awards next fall.

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