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Scholarship Awards $31,500 to 12 Alaskan Athletes

Sadie Bjornsen, center, in a recent race.

Sadie Bjornsen, center, in a recent race.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Sadie Bjornsen

Alaska Winter Olympians Fund Supports Alaskan Athletes

(ALASKA) – The Alaska Winter Olympians Fund (AWOF), a scholarship program of The Alaska Community Foundation, awards an impressive $31,500 to 12 Alaskan athletes, the largest amount awarded to-date.

“I am super proud to be an Alaskan representing the AWOF around the U.S. and the world. Ski racing is a hard sport to raise funds for while traveling,” states Andrew Kurka, adaptive alpine skier from Palmer, member of the U.S. Paralympic Team and ranked top-10 in the world in both Downhill and Super-G events.

All of the 2013 AWOF scholarship recipients are not just impressive athletes; they spend significant time giving back to their communities.

“As a lifelong Alaskan, I am inspired by so many that have come before me. Watching the Olympic athletes from our state and seeing the positive impacts they have had on our community lit a fire in me to try and do the same,” says Nordic skier Reese Hanneman and elite ambassador for the NANA Nordic program (http://www.nananordic.com/).

"I am so excited and thankful to be supported by The Alaska Community Foundation again on such an important and exciting year, with the Olympics just 50 days around the corner! I couldn't be more thankful of the support of the community that allows me to prepare my very best to hopefully compete in my first Olympic Games in Sochi! Thank you to Alaska and The Alaska Community Foundation for not only supporting me on this journey, but believing in me as well!" states Sadie Bjornsen, APU Nordic Skier.

The Alaska Winter Olympians Fund Advisory Board and The Alaska Community Foundation thank community supporters, including a special thanks to the Anchorage Mayor’s Charity Ball, Conoco Phillips, the Ted Stevens Foundation and HDR Alaska for their generous contributions.

Started by former Olympians dedicated to supporting Alaskan athletes in their Olympic bids, the Alaska Winter Olympians Fund Advisory Board is increasing their fundraising efforts this year to enable AWOF to support more Alaskan athletes at higher levels as we head into the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. Learn more at www.akwof.org.

Scholarship awards went to:

Sadie Bjornsen (http://sadiebjornsen.blogspot.com/) and Erik Bjornsen (http://erikbjornsen.com/) of Anchorage both are Nordic skiers and students at Alaska Pacific University and current US Ski B Team athletes.

Kieffer Christianson (http://usskiteam.com/athletes/kieffer-christianson), an alpine skier from Anchorage, is a current member of the US Ski Team who had a breakout season in 2012, dropping his Giant Slalom world ranking from 224 to 52.

Samuel Dougherty is an up and coming Anchorage biathlete who currently attends Montana State University.

Kate Fitzgerald of Palmer and Lauren Fritz (http://aklaurenfritz.wordpress.com/) of Eagle River are Nordic skiers and APU elite teammates who hope to make it to the highest level of their sport.  

Reese Hanneman (http://reesehanneman.com/), Tyler Kornfield (http://tylerkornfield.com/), and Lex Treinen, all of Anchorage, are Nordic skiers on APU’s elite team commitment to pursuing a spot on the Olympic team.

Andrew Kurka (http://andrewkurka.wordpress.com/) is an adaptive alpine skier from Palmer, is a current member of the US Paralympic Team and ranked top-10 in the world in both Downhill and Super-G events.

Rosina Mancari is a snowboarder-cross athlete from Anchorage who is currently ranked 8th in the US.

Liam Ortega (http://liamortega.org/) of Fairbanks is an internationally ranked speed skater who successfully overcame a traumatic brain injury in 2008 and has returned to a high level in his sport. Oretga is the founder of his own non-profit organization, Driven to Move (http://driventomove.org/), which aims to inspire young people to be physically active.

The Alaska Winter Olympians Fund Advisory Board:
Rachel Steer
James Southam
Alex Wilson
Jim Renkert
Rosey Fletcher Grunwaldt
Lars Flora
Pamela Dryer
Nina Kemppel
Chris Hodel
David Morris
Anne Remick

The Alaska Community Foundation

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