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ATHLETES GATHER IN LAS VEGAS FOR MAJOR FUNDRAISER TO AID SARAJEVO

 MCLEAN, Va., Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Rather than the besieged city it is today, Sarajevo in 1984 was the focus of international attention as the congenial host of the Winter Olympics. Now many wonder what happened to the Olympic spirit that permeated those games.
 On Monday evening, March 1, at 6 p.m., in the Grand Ballroom of the Las Vegas Convention Center, athletes from all over the world will rekindle that Olympic flame at a benefit reception known as Operation Ski Lift.
 Ski Industries American (SIA), sponsor of Operation Ski Lift, hopes to raise $50,000 to help the victims of the brutal war that rages in the former Yugoslavia. Operation Ski Lift is being held in conjunction with the SIA Ski and Outdoor Sports Show (March 1-5).
 The highlight of the evening is a stirring ceremony involving all participating athletes and a powerful video presentation of Sarajevo -- past and present. (The ceremony begins promptly at 6:30). The video program dramatically portrays the games and the tragedy that has befallen Sarajevo today. It features many of the athletes who have given their time to be at the Operation Ski Lift benefit.
 In November, 40 members of SIA, the non-profit trade association for ski product suppliers, donated 10 tons of clothing, shoes, undergarments to the citizens of Sarajevo. On March 1, a new organization called the Spirit of HOPE! (Humanitarian Olympians for Peace) will join with SIA for the Operation Ski Lift fundraiser. It is the first public event for the Spirit of HOPE!, a group of world-class athletes who have banded together to help alleviate human suffering. HOPE! was founded by television commentator Greg Lewis and former Olympic skier Christin Cooper.
 Skiing's Dream Team -- Cooper, Phil Mahre, Steve Mahre, Debbie Armstrong and Bill Johnson -- will play an active role in the Operation Ski Lift benefit. All five former U.S. Ski Team members won medals in the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, the best Olympic alpine showing by any U.S. Ski Team in its history. That year U.S. athletes won more alpine ski medals than any other country.
 The Dream Team will be joined at the Operation Ski Lift benefit by current and former members of the U.S. Ski Team and 15 of the top international athletes now competing on the men's World Cup tour for downhill and super G skiers.
 During the ceremony, the Olympic torch will be passed to officials from the Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee. Lillehammer is the site of the 1994 Winter Olympics. This event will be taped for showing on the Norwegian broadcasting system.
 -0- 2/26/93
 /CONTACT: Mary Jo Tarallo, 703-556-9020 or 410-296-0357; or Bill Clapper, 703-442-5040 or in Las Vegas, 702-791-9154, both of Ski Industries America/


CO: Ski Industries America ST: Virginia IN: SU:

SM-OS -- NY001I -- 0680 02/26/93 06:49 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 26, 1993
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