Ski Racing Magazine » Stories Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:34:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Next season starts now! Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:02:04 +0000 Jim Taylor Bode Miller boots up for the 2013 season opener in Soelden. GEPA/Andreas Pranter

Bode Miller boots up for the 2013 season opener in Soelden. GEPA/Andreas Pranter

Note: This article is an encore presentation of a piece that never gets old.

The race season is finally over. After a long and demanding winter, you’re probably tired of skiing (regardless of whether the season was a triumph or a disappointment). It’s time to hang up your skis, pack away your gear, kick back, relax, and forget about ski racing for a few months, right? Wrong!

Being the best ski racer you can be is not a part-time activity. It requires a year-round commitment and consistent effort in your physical, technical, tactical, and, yes, mental training. If you’re a ski racer serious about achieving your competitive goals, the end of the race season simply means it’s time to start your preparations for next season. After a short period of rest and relaxation, say, a week or two, you need to begin your planning and your training that will get you ready to continue your progress toward your goals next winter.

Evaluate This Past Season

The first thing you want to do is to look back on the recently completed race season and evaluate how you did. Here are several questions to ask yourself (and your coaches):

  • Did you improve physically, technically, tactically, and mentally?
  • Did you achieve the results you wanted (and if not, why not)?
  • Did you make progress toward your long-term goals?
  • What did you do well?
  • What areas do you need to improve on?

With these questions answered, you can, in collaboration with your coaches, decide what in your training worked and what did not. You can then, again with your coaches, use this information to create an off-season training program to build on your strengths and alleviate your weaknesses.

It’s About Preparation

How you ski next year depends on what you do this spring, summer, and fall. The physical conditioning gains you make and the technical, tactical, and mental skills you develop in the off-season will determine how much you improve and whether you reach your competitive goals next winter. There are three areas in which you must focus to maximize your preparation.

First, commit to an intensive physical conditioning program. Ski racing has become a sport of “beef,” meaning you need muscle, strength, and power (plus, of course, agility and quickness). The only way to develop these areas is with an organized fitness program that may involve weight training, plyometrics, speed work, and stretching.

Second, most racers spend at least part of the summer and fall on-snow. Summer and fall skiing is essential for your technical and tactical development because you’re able to focus exclusively on improvements in your skiing fundamentals without the pressures of getting ready for races. It also enables you to test and adapt to new equipment (though my motto is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” meaning if your equipment works for you, don’t mess with it. Testing distracts you from training and can cause you to question which equipment is best for you).

Finally, and just as importantly, the off-season is the best time to engage in mental training. Just like physical conditioning and technical skills, mental aspects of ski racing (e.g., confidence, intensity, and focus) take time and effort to develop. An organized program of mental training can have huge benefits when you enter the new race season.

Goal Setting

To help you figure out how to work on all of these areas, write down your goals for next season. The first goal you should look at is your long-term goal, that is, what you ultimately want to accomplish in your ski racing. Ask yourself whether that “dream” goal needs to be changed (upward or downward) or are you still on track for it. Next, set a seasonal goal for what you want to accomplish next winter in terms of results, rankings, etc.

Then, using the information you gained from your evaluation of last year and feedback from your coaches, set specific goals for your physical conditioning, technical and tactical development, and mental training to achieve those goals. These goals should be specific (e.g., amount of weight lifted, frequency of workouts) and structured into a weekly training plan. The idea is that every day when you get up, you know exactly what you need to do that day to progress toward your goals.

Mental Skills

The off-season is the ideal time to work on the mental side of your ski racing. Ask yourself whether your mind helped or hurt your ski racing this past winter. Also, consider whether you had the intensity and focus to get the most out of your on-snow training is. Here’s my challenge to you: If you’re not engaged in a regular mental training program, you’re just not doing everything you can to achieve your ski racing goals!

Motivation. Your ability to commit to the goals that you set will depend on how motivated you are to put in the hard work, even when you’re tired, bored, or wanting to do things that are much more fun. If you have trouble motivating yourself, there are several things you can do.

Develop an organized weekly training program to help you build your training into your daily activities. If you have a plan, you’re more likely to stick to it. Also, find a training partner to work out with; you’ll be less likely to skip workouts when you feel unmotivated because your partner will be counting on you and you’ll work harder because someone is pushing you to do that extra rep, set, or drill. And post reminders where you can see them of your biggest competitors (“Am I working harder than them?”), racers who you admire, or inspirational quotes that fire you up.

Confidence. A major purpose of off-season training is to build confidence. Think of it as putting money in the bank: The more confidence “money” you deposit now, the bigger confidence “debits” you’ll be able to write next winter. If you’re working hard and improving during the off-season, when the winter begins, you’ll have the confidence that you have done everything possible to ski your best and achieve your goals. See my earlier article about confidence on specific strategies you can use to build your confidence.

Intensity and focus. An important off-season goal for you is to identify and learn to control your intensity (e.g., get fired up or calmed down) and focus (e.g., avoid distractions). You can work on developing your intensity and focus skills during both physical conditioning and on-snow training.

Mental imagery. Mental imagery is perhaps the most powerful tool you can use in your mental training during the off-season. Mental imagery, which involves regularly imagining yourself in different training and race situations, is like weight training for the mind, it can strengthen your technical, tactical, competitive, performance, and mental “muscles.” I will go into more detail about mental imagery in my final article of the season next week.

Getting Going

Getting going for next season starts with that first step of deciding how important ski racing is to you. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How big are your ski racing goals for next season?
  • How hard are your competitors going to be working in the off-season?
  • How badly do you want it?!?!

The key to achieving your goals next winter is to start now! Talk is cheap. It’s easy to say you want to be a great ski racer; it’s an entirely different thing to actually do the work necessary. If your goals are at all high, the only chance you will have is to commit to intensive off-season physical, on-snow, and mental training programs. Your goal when you get in the starting gate of your first race next season is to be able to say: “I’m as prepared as I can be to achieve my goals.” And, with all of that hard work in the off-season that you “deposited in the bank,” the chances are you will be successful and reach your goals.

Note #1: Many thanks to (especially Sarah and Christine) for giving me the opportunity to share my ideas with the ski racing community this past winter. It’s been great fun meeting new parents, coaches, and racers and reconnecting with those I knew “back in the day.” See you here again next season.

Note #2: I received many emails and calls during the winter from parents and junior programs about working with their athletes. As my article above suggests, now is the time. If I can be of any help in the coming off season to racers, parents, or clubs, please feel free to contact me (; 415-322-8425).

Jim Taylor, Ph.D., competed internationally while skiing for Burke Mountain Academy, Middlebury College, and the University of Colorado. Over the last 25 years, he has worked with the U.S. and Japanese Ski Teams, many World Cup and Olympic racers, and several of the leading junior race programs in the U.S. and Canada. Jim is the author of Prime Ski Racing: Triumph of the Racer’s Mind, he publishes bi-monthly newsletters on sport, business, and parenting, and also blogs for and To learn more or to contact Jim, visit his website.

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Vail-Beaver Creek passes technical inspections ahead of 2015 World Championships Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:19:08 +0000 SR Staff Ted Ligety racing SG in Beaver Creek in 2013. GEPA/ Wolfgang Grebien

Ted Ligety racing SG in Beaver Creek in 2013. GEPA/ Wolfgang Grebien

With the clock ticking towards the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2015 in Vail-Beaver Creek (USA) next February, the final spring technical inspections and Coordination Group meeting were held on-site this March and April.

Just after the conclusion of the FIS Alpine World Cup season, the official technical inspections were carried out by the FIS race directors led by Atle Skaardal and Markus Waldner. An intensive few days involved inspecting the men’s Birds of Prey and ladies’ Raptor courses as well as looking into the sport organizational plans.

The technical officials came away from their meetings and venue tours with positive feelings. Earlier in the season, the new ladies’ downhill course “The Raptor” debuted to rave reviews from the athletes. The men have also always said that the famed “Birds of Prey” downhill course is one of the highlights of the World Cup season.

“We have had a great debut on the ladies Raptor and are looking forward to seeing it in action again in the next season,” said Skaardal. “We will then finalize the last details before the 2015 World Championships get underway.”

“After inspecting the 2015 World Championship courses, we are extremely happy with the current situation and can feel confident that with the experienced Organizing Team the Championships will be a top event!” added Waldner.

The technical inspections have been followed up this week with the Coordination Group meeting in Vail and Beaver Creek including representatives from the 2017 Organizing Committee, FIS, USSA, the European Broadcast Union and its commercial partner Tridem.

With the countdown clock now below the 300-day mark before the World Championships begin on Feb. 2, the Organizers and FIS have turned the focus to fine tuning on the technical side and the promotional elements of the Championships.

“The Organizers are preparing a full program of free entertainment to make sure that the visitors and fans both from Colorado, the United States and the rest of the world that travel to visit the Championships will have a memorable stay and enjoy not just the outstanding competitions these courses and organization are sure to provide, but the Vail Valley and Rocky Mountain region,” remarked FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis.

The final inspection and Coordination Group meeting prior to the World Championships will take place this fall to ensure the site is fully operational before the world descends on the Vail Valley in February.

Release courtesy of FIS

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USSA partners with Liberty Mutual Insurance Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:08:57 +0000 SR Staff Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 4.00.56 PMPARK CITY, Utah – The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) has announced that Liberty Mutual Insurance is now the official insurance partner of the USSA and its U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing programs through the 2014-15 season. As part of the partnership agreement, USSA will help advance the Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program, an online community that encourages responsible youth sport coaching and parenting.

“Liberty Mutual Insurance is well respected not only for its business values but for its commitment to families in the communities in which they work and live,” said USSA President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “The Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports initiative is a valuable asset for our USSA club programs by championing the life lessons sports like skiing and snowboarding teach to youth athletes.”

The Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program provides valuable sport education information to the USSA’s membership through regular tips, athlete videos and discussions with experts. In keeping with the principle of Olympism, the Responsible Sports program is a great resource for parents, coaches and volunteers seeking to help athletes train while leading balanced lives.

The USSA will provide the Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports content to its membership base through its website, social media channels and direct communications.

“The Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program is truly a game changer for our clubs, parents, athletes and coaches,” noted Luke Bodensteiner, USSA’s executive vice president of athletics. “The Responsible Sports content, shared on our social media and web channels, will provide information that can make a huge difference in an athlete’s life.”

By aligning with the USSA, Liberty Mutual Insurance, a diversified global insurer and the sixth-largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., deepens its relationship with the U.S. Olympic Committee by partnering with its seventh national sport governing body. Liberty Mutual Insurance is the official property and casualty and life insurance partner of the 2014 and 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

“We are pleased to partner with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, and are excited by the opportunities the relationship will allow to extend our commitments to youth sports in our communities,” remarked Liberty Mutual’s Director of Sponsorships Julie Brassard. “We value partners like the USSA that share a similar passion for teaching positive life lessons through youth sports.

Release courtesy of USSA

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Ave Maria: Farewell to the flying, five-discipline phenomenon Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:00:57 +0000 SR Staff Maria Hoefl-Riesch in the Are World Cup. GEPA/Harald Steiner

Maria Hoefl-Riesch in the 2014 Are World Cup GS. GEPA/Harald Steiner

Three Olympic gold medals, two more at the World Championships, and six crystal globes: that’s a career in anyone’s language. But as with so much about Maria Hoefl-Riesch, the great German all-rounder who announced her retirement last month at the age of 29, it tells only half the story.

For the rest, you need the snow leopard.

Through a professional career spanning 13 years and 356 World Cup races — 81 podiums, 27 wins, since you asked — writers had plenty of time to pin down Hoefl-Riesch’s character, as they gleefully had with most of her rivals. That they singularly failed tells much about this familiar yet elusive figure, who, legend has it, could have excelled in a number of other sports had she wished, and whose intimidating shadow often seemed to cast even farther over her rivals than her striking, all-but-six-foot frame did across the snow.

With five distinct disciplines and three elite strands of competition, identifying the best alpine racers of all time through statistics is a dizzying, somewhat futile exercise. But amidst the sea of conflicting numbers, the elegant symmetry of Maria’s career record stands out a mile. Eleven World Cup wins and one crystal globe in the downhill, nine and two in the polar opposite event, the slalom: just how, in the modern era of specialization, could that be possible?

This is only a preview. Read the entirety of ‘Ave Maria’ in Issue 11 of the digital magazine here.

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Maze’s Olympic coach breaks ties with the Slovenian Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:31:46 +0000 CJ Feehan Tina Maze at the Sochi Olympic Games. GEPA/Andreas Pranter

Tina Maze at the Sochi Olympic Games. GEPA/Andreas Pranter

As first reported by the Italian publication Race Ski Magazine, Tina Maze’s most recent coach who led her to two Olympic gold medals and seemed to salvage her World Cup season after taking over midway through the winter will no longer work with the Slovenian racer. Mauro Pini, the Swiss coach who joined Maze’s staff in January, was only contracted through the end of the 2014 season. Despite his success with Maze, he will not continue to work with the skier next season who won the 2013 overall title after accumulating a record-breaking 2,414 points but who finished 2014 ranked fourth with only 964 points.

Maze’s coach in 2013, Livio Magoni, departed at the end of last season to take over the Italian women’s team. He was replaced by Walter Ronconi, who Maze dismissed in the middle of the season and replaced with Pini. Now Pini leaves amidst rumors that he may accept a position with the Italian team, possibly replacing Magoni who is being courted to return to Team to aMaze in a grand carousel of staffing rotations. Whoever is hired to work with Maze will become the fourth coach she has trained with in a single year.

It was my decision,” said Pini regarding his departure from the team. “Tina wanted me to stay. But for me it was clear from the beginning that this should be only a temporary commitment for me,” he told the Ticino News.

Maze’s boyfriend, Andrea Massi, remains head coach and team manager, and he informed the press that they do not yet have a known replacement for Pini heading into the 2014-15 season which features the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships at Beaver Creek, Colo., in February.

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Shiffrin inks partnership with Vail Valley communities Tue, 15 Apr 2014 18:03:45 +0000 SR Staff Ceil Folz, Andy Daly, Mikaela Shiffrin and Rich Carroll agree to a 1-year partnership. VVF

Ceil Folz, Andy Daly, Mikaela Shiffrin and Rich Carroll agree to a one-year partnership. VVF

VAIL, Colo. — The Vail Valley has come together to support their own Olympic champion, Mikaela Shiffrin, in a partnership that will see the 19-year-old Eagle-Vail resident help endorse her community and the 2015 World Championships over the course of the coming year.

“I was born and raised here,” offered Shiffrin. “I’m just so happy to be part of this group, part of the scene, and to be able to give back a little bit. And, I can’t wait for Vail/Beaver Creek 2015.”

The one-year partnership features a collaboration of funding partners that include the Town of Vail, the Town of Avon and the Vail Valley Foundation/2015 World Championships Organizing Committee.

“The Town of Vail couldn’t be more excited to be part of this partnership,” offered Vail Mayor Andy Daly. “We are so proud of Mikaela, not only for everything she has accomplished, but also for the way that she represents our valley day in and day out.”

“We all felt very strongly that our entire community should come together to support Mikaela,” explained Avon Mayor Rich Carroll. “The Town of Avon is proud to support this effort and I know we all look forward to the coming year, especially when Mikaela races at home during the World Championships.”

“The Vail Valley is unbelievably blessed to have two great athletes that will represent this community in 2015,” added Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation and head of the 2015 World Championships Organizing Committee. “We are thrilled to be a part of this collaborative effort to support Mikaela”

On Feb. 21, 2014, the now 19-year-old Shiffrin became the youngest slalom champion in Olympic alpine skiing history, with her 0.53-second victory in Sochi over Austria’s Marlies Schild. Four days earlier, she made her Olympic debut with a fifth-place showing in the giant slalom.

In addition to her Olympic exploits, Shiffrin recorded her fifth World Cup slalom victory of the 2013-14 season March 15 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland to wrap up her second consecutive World Cup slalom title. Over the course of the past two winters, Shiffrin has claimed a total of nine World Cup slalom wins.

Scheduled from Feb. 2-15 of 2015, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek are expected to showcase athletes from over 70 nations, with an estimated 750 million worldwide television viewers and an onsite media and broadcast entourage of approximately 1,500 members.

Release courtesy of the VVF 

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VIDEO: 2014 Whistler Cup full recap Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:48:00 +0000 SR Staff Join Shaw TV host Heather Butts for an in-depth look at the top international ski event in North America for junior skiers, the 2014 Rio Tinto Alcan Whistler Cup.

Video courtesy of Shaw TV

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Stoeckli signs GS ace Viktoria Rebensburg Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:59:16 +0000 SR Staff Viktoria Rebensburg in the Are World Cup. GEPA/Harald Steiner

Viktoria Rebensburg in the Are World Cup. GEPA/Harald Steiner

After achieving her greatest successes with Nordica, including the giant slalom Olympic gold medal in Vancouver, the bronze in the same discipline in Sochi, 10 World Cup victories and two season titles, Viktoria Rebensburg has announced a new partnership with the Swiss ski brand Stoeckli. The 24-year-old German has signed a two-year contract and will be joining Tina Maze on the Stoeckli team.

“After ten years this material change is for me a new incentive and a new challenge. Stoeckli is a successful Swiss company with great experience; they have proved themselves in World Cup for many years. I felt great from the beginning with both the material and the team and look forward to the cooperation and the upcoming season,” Rebensburg said of the change.

“We are thrilled with having Viktoria on board and want to warmly welcome her in our family. As the best German athlete, she is an important ambassador for our large German market,” Stoeckli CEO Beni Stoeckli commented.

Release courtesy of FIS

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Mancuso and Haugen win Jon Olsson Invitational Sun, 13 Apr 2014 21:15:58 +0000 SR Staff 11-joi2014-final_DSC91811

Oscar Wester, Leif Kristian Haugen and Julia Mancuso won the 2014 Jon Olsson Invitational (JOI), a combination big air contest and dual alpine race, held on Saturday (April 12) in Are, Sweden.

After a week of practice and anticipation, the JOI big air finals went down in a serious way. Under immaculate light and the gazes of thousands of fans, both onsite and online, the riders ascended the in-run. Comfortable from a week’s practice on the jump, early tricks featured double and triple corks immediately.

The format saw the riders going head-to-head to fight for a spot in the finals. In the end, it was Oscar Wester, Jesper Tjäder, Torin Yater-Wallace and Fabian Bösch who made it through to battle it out; best trick from two runs wins.

Oscar Wester’s triple 1620 with a safety grab took the win over Jesper Tjäder’s second-place switch triple rodeo 1260 and Fabian Bösch’s third-place switch double 1440. American Torin Yater-Wallace went for broke with an unprecedented switch 1980 but fell, finishing just short of the podium.

“It’s pretty unbelievable,” said Oscar. “JOI is my favorite competition of the year and this year was really fun.”

Julia Mancuso and Warner Nickerson

Julia Mancuso and Warner Nickerson

Closer to the earth, the Alpine Challenge was just as intense. With the dramatic late arrival of a few riders by helicopter, the stage was set and the crowd was primed for an intense battle. When all was said and done, it was Norway’s Leif Kristian Haugen who won the men’s event and Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso who took first for the ladies.

Afterward, the crowd flocked to the base of the arena for the prize giving where they deemed Christof Schenk the crowd favorite with his absolutely massive straight triple backflip.

 All of the winners were rewarded and it was time for the last hurrah, an ending to this year’s Jon Olsson Invitational that no one will ever forget. With endless glasses of Red Bull and vodka and the best company one could ask for, JOI ended in style.

See the highlight video here:


Betsafe Alpine Challenge – Men
1. Leif Kristian Haugen
2. Sebastian Foss Solevåg
3. Truls Johansen
4. Mattias Hargin
5. Jeff Frisch
5. Warner Nickerson
5. Kjetil Jansrud
5. Matthias Mayer

Betsafe Alpine Challenge – Women
1. Julia Mancuso
2. Rosina Schneeberger
3. Anna Swenn-Larsson
4. Maria Pietilae-Holmner
5. Carmen Thalmann
5. Sara Hector
5. Ranghild Mowinckel
5. Natalie Eklund (DNS)

Head Big Air
1. Oscar Wester
2. Jesper Tjäder
3. Fabian Bösch
4. Torin Yater-Wallace

As reported by Red Bull/Kyle Meyr

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Remembering Olympian and Reliable Racing founder Tom Jacobs Sat, 12 Apr 2014 13:23:08 +0000 Hank McKee tom-jacobs-300dpiWith the passing of Tom Jacobs this week, the ski racing community lost a National Ski Hall of Fame member, the originator of the rules for NCAA Skiing, a former director of the National Ski Association, a champion athlete and the founder of Reliable Racing Supply Company.

Jacobs died April 10 at his home. Born Aug. 14, 1926 in Montreal to Minna Wagner Jacobs and Milton Jacobs, the family moved to Berlin, N.H. shortly after his arrival. He graduated from Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine, in 1944 and served with the US Army in Okinawa and Japan from 1945 through 1947.

In 1949, while enrolled at Middlebury College, he married classmate Marilyn Mulhollan of Wellsville, N.Y. He graduated from Middlebury with honors in 1951 with a major in geology.

Jacobs pursued graduate work in geology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Selection to the 1952 Olympic team disrupted his studies, but he later returned to the university as a ski coach. During his coaching career, he served as chairman of the NCAA Skiing committee, writing the rules for collegiate ski racing. After college coaching, he became executive director of the National Ski Association, then located in Denver.

He also served as director to the Steamboat Springs Chamber of Commerce and Winter Sport Club. He moved his family back to Glens Falls, N.Y. in 1958 and took employment as a sales representative with the Finch and Pruyn Paper Co., a position he held for 11 years.

An avid skier as a youngster, Jacobs never outgrew his passion for the sport. A four event competitor (slalom, downhill, cross-country and jumping), he claimed many a skimeister trophy in high school and college and helped lead the Middlebury College team to the 1948 national collegiate championship.

He competed in Nordic combined and jumping in the 1952 Oslo Olympics and strove to stay involved in his sport. He and Marilyn owned and developed the Inside Edge Ski and Bike Shop and the catalogue business Reliable Racing Supply, now owned by his son John Jacobs. He founded the ski school at West Mountain, the Southern Adirondack Racing League and the Friends of Coles Woods.

In 2007, Tom Jacobs was inducted into the National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame for his many contributions to the sport.

Jacobs was predeceased by a sister, Louise Jacobs Richter. He is survived by his wife Marilyn; his son Jeffrey Jacobs of Boise, Idaho; his daughter Diana Jaquin of Richmond, Virginia; and his son John (Susan Ide) Jacobs of Glens Falls. Surviving also are seven grandchildren: Jocelin (Jason) Kaplan; Courtney (Ernest) Quackenbush; Thembi (Jamal) Butler; Zuri (Justin) Brown; Jena Jacobs; John “Jake” Jacobs; Hannah (Thye) Bain; and 12 great grandchildren.

The family wishes to sincerely thank High Peaks Hospice for their care and professionalism throughout Tom’s last days. Calling hours will be held at the Singleton Sullivan Potter Funeral Home at 407 Bay Road, Queensbury, N.Y. on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 from 4-7 P.M. In lieu of flowers and in memory of Tom, the family requests that donations be made to The Friends of Coles Woods, P.O. Box 294, Glens Falls, N.Y. Online condolences can be made to the family by visiting

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