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Skiers helping Japan

Tue, Mar  22, 2011 - By FIS

The entire skiing community including active alpine skiers, snowboarders, ski jumpers, cross-country skiers, and freestylers, from across the globe, as well as former skiing legends has joined forces to create ways for helping Japan in disaster relief efforts to support those affected by the earthquake and the tsunami.

Japan’s biggest recorded earthquake of a 9.0 magnitude occurred on Friday, 11 March 2011, off its east coast. One week after the disaster, the country is battling to avoid a nuclear disaster in the aftermath of the earthquake and the devastating tsunami. According to estimates, 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.

The lives of many tens of thousands of Japanese have been changed forever as whole villages were swept away by the floods of the tsunami. The whole extent of the devastation in Japan is not yet known but there is clearly a great breadth and depth of human suffering.

This tragedy caused skiers across disciplines — whether World Cup athletes or recreational – to take on the mission of supporting those suffering. They are all sending out their courage and positive energy to encourage the victims in the affected area.

The Alpine skier Julia Mancuso has decided to pledge 50 % of her prize money from the World cup Finals competitions and set up the website www.skiershelpingjapan.com for people to make donations, receive information and post suggestions of how to help. All monies raised will be collected in a Paypal fund and distributed to specific causes, areas, and programs selected by Akira Sasaki, an active Japanese Alpine World Cup skier.

U.S top Cross-Country skier Kikkan Randall also wanted to help and contacted Julia Mancuso. Following Saturday’s pursuit races at the World Cup Finals in the Swedish Falun, the Cross-Country skiers joined the ‘Skier helping Japan’ initiative. They showed their support by coming to the stage after the winners' ceremony and writing messages for the Japanese people. Marit Bjoergen, Kikkan Randall, Charlotte Kalla, Petra Majdic, Justyna Kowalczyk, Emil Joensson, Daniel Rickardsson or Jesper Modin and many others wrote their messages.

Any money raised by the international skiing community, the World Cup family and fans will be a great inspiration for Japan and especially skiers in Tohoku, the region of the 1993 Alpine World Championships in Morioka Shizukuishi, and Inawashiro, the ski area of the 2009 Freestyle World Championships. Akira Sasaki and Kazuko Ikeda are both Japanese skiers competing on the World Cup tour, who grew up skiing in Tohoku as little boys. These two areas are among the ones suffering the most.

The Alpine World Cup skiers Akira Sasaki and Kazuko Ikeda Boeker, current Olympic champions Julia Mancuso and World Cup competitor Chemmy Alcott and former Olympic medalist Jure (Yuri) Franko are at the heart of this mission and ask the skiing community to come together and ACT. Just as importantly, they all feel the need to let Japanese friends, sports colleagues and the nation as a whole know that they are all thinking of them and that they are not alone in these difficult times.

Please join the international athletes on Facebook and post your comments of encouragement at “Skiers Helping Japan” or “Skiers for Japan”.

If you don’t have a Facebook account, please send an email with your message to info[at]prospot.si and your message will be posted for you.