Visa Champions Creating Champions was created by U.S. Ski Team athlete Emily Cook, with support from Visa and the Utah Athletic Foundation. Emily believed that she could make a difference in the lives of young athletes just as her mentors had positively influenced her in the past. She dreamt of creating a program where older, world-class athletes could support young athletes in their sport by mentoring them and developing a relationship of encouragement and strength. That dream came true when 34 Olympic and national team athletes were matched with Park City and Salt Lake City youth in a mentoring program in September 2002.
Cook, a native of Belmont, Mass., who has relocated to Park City for training, has been the inspiration behind this program, personally recruiting her fellow athletes to participate. Due to the enthusiasm, willingness to share and interest by both mentors and mentees, the first season of Visa Champions Creating Champions was a complete success.
About the Founder
Cook, who had a monster breakthrough season in 2001 when she won her first U.S. aerial title and captured a World Cup bronze medal on the Olympic course at Deer Valley, was poised to compete in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games before being sidelined by a leg injury. During her time off, Emily coached the FLY UOP program along side Chris Haslock and Bruce Erickson at Utah Olympic Park. After a long two years recovering from her injury, Emily is currently training with the US Ski Team and looking towards the upcoming season and the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino.
Since 1986, Visa has provided more than $17 million to support Olympic Team athletes and hopefuls worldwide, including $9 million to help bring U.S. Olympic Team hopefuls closer to their dreams.
Visa has been proud to support Emily Cook since 1998, when as a 19 year-old she was invited to join the Visa Gold Medal Athlete Program.
The Visa Gold Medal Athlete Program helps developing U.S. team athletes from a number of disciplines concentrate on training, often well before they have reached their competitive potential.