Belles of the ball

Event skiers don a different face to win the race

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— Ski for Women is probably the one time each year when you can see people skiing or snowshoeing in gorilla suits or spot a woman dressed as a cow cheering as you cross the finish line.

"We see it as a good opportunity for the community to have some fun and show some support for Advocates," said Diane Moore, the group's executive director.

About 90 people, many dressed in costume, raced around a five-kilometer cross-country course Sunday at the fifth-annual Colorado Ski for Women, where more than $5,000 was raised to fight battering and abuse in northwest Colorado.

There was live music, a raffle, an auction and a hot meal awaiting the skiers as they completed the course at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center. Local businesses sponsored the event.

"We have had a number of people just drop by and donate who didn't participate," Moore said. "It really speaks to the generosity of the community."

Moore founded Advocates, which is going into its 22nd year in Routt County. The group educates community members about the different types of abuse and what to do when violence occurs. The group also provides 24-hour assistance and a shelter in Steamboat that can house nine women and children for as long as six weeks, Moore said.

The event also was held to raise awareness about abuse, an important task, Moore said, because Advocates has experienced an increase in cases dealing with abuse -- the group handled 301 cases in 2004, compared with 335 cases in 2005.

"My theory is violence is increasing in our society," Moore said. "I don't know if national statistics really speak true to that, but I'm not alone in thinking that."

Birgitta Lindgren, who manages the Touring Center, wore a cow costume at the finish line, cheering on participants and judging their outfits.

The Requists, of Steamboat Springs, wore costumes that won a family membership to the Touring Center. The parents dressed as Winter, and their three children wore traditional costume ball attire to complement the event's "Winter Masquerade" theme. Marianne Capra, of Steamboat, won an individual pass for dressing as a "beach babe" while towing her "beach baby."

Advocates Against Battering and Abuse can be reached through a 24 hours a day at 879-8888.

-- To reach Matt Stensland call 871-4204,

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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