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What the 53rd New York Gold Medal Gala is all About

By U.S. Ski & Snowboard
July, 21 2019

On Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, the stars, fans and some of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s greatest supporters, will descend on New York City to celebrate the organization’s marquee event, the New York Gold Medal Gala

The Gala is a critical element of funding for the United States’ Olympic national governing body of ski and snowboard sports, and the single biggest fundraising event for the organization - it is expected to raise nearly $2 million this year. Support from fans and donors allows elite ski and snowboard athletes the opportunity to train and compete at the highest levels. Since its inception, American ski and snowboard athletes have earned an impressive 101 Olympic medals - 39 of which are gold. 

In its fifty-third iteration, this year’s theme, “Inspired by the Stars,” reminds fans and athletes alike the reason behind the grueling work it takes to be an elite team member. It takes drive, passion and grit to sweat it out every day in the gym, chase snow year-round across the globe and get in the start gates every week during competition season. Skiing and snowboarding’s rich history of sport innovators serves as inspiration for athletes such as Maddie Mastro (Wrightwood Calif.), who landed the first-ever double cork, “the crippler,” in women’s snowboard halfpipe competition last season. And hearing those cheers and cowbells at the finish coral make it all worth it.

The New York Gold Medal Gala can trace its roots back to 1967 from its humble beginnings as the New York Ski Ball held at Tavern on the Green. Quickly becoming more than just a fundraiser, the Gala established itself as a pivotal cultural event in Olympic sport. Over the years, Olympic skiers and snowboarders have graced the stage of some of New York’s most notable venues from the Plaza, Pierre and Waldorf Hotels, to the Hammerstein Ballroom, and even the deck of the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier docked on the Hudson River.

The Ski Ball concept was created at a time when the U.S. Ski Team was starting to take center stage in a sport that was just creating a global World Cup tour. A group of prominent New York businessmen, led by J. Negley Cooke, the head of Sterling Drug, were seeking a way to energize support for the athletes of the U.S. Ski Team. After the success in 1967, the group ramped it up in year two at the Waldorf-Astoria, gaining support from major American corporations like Eastman Kodak and Pontiac Motors, with more than 1,300 attending, raising $75,000 for the athletes – an unprecedented sum for the time.


New York Gold Medal Gala news clipping
A news clipping from December 1971 about the Ski Team fundraisers


Through the years, the ball became a fixture in a crowded New York City fundraiser landscape. It has long been a popular event for celebrities, business leaders and politicians. It has showcased great entertainers, from the orchestras of Michael Carney and Peter Duchin, to popular stars like Sheryl Crowe, the B52s, Counting Crows and more.

But the event’s real success has come from the deep integration of athletes, serving as a seasonal send-off and celebration. For over 50 years, America has celebrated its greatest ski and snowboard champions on stage in New York City, providing a sought-after evening of fun for athletes before the start of the competition season.

Be a part of the celebration from wherever you might find yourself on October 24. National ski and snowboard team athletes are privately funded and receive no government assistance. Technology connects us more than ever and fans can show their support remotely. Auction items will be available for bidding starting Monday, September 2, and online participation is encouraged during our silent auction, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST on October 24. Follow along on social with #NYGoldMedalGala.