Julia Mancuso pledges money to Japan

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland -- Skiers at the World Cup finals are donating some of their prize money to relief efforts in Japan.

Julia Mancuso of the United States launched the fundraiser by pledging half her race earnings this week to the www.skiershelpingjapan.com campaign website.

Mancuso, Japanese skier Akira Sasaki and former Olympian Kazuko Ikeda have written to World Cup teams seeking support.

Sasaki is a three-time runner-up in World Cup races. He notes that the 1993 world championships were held in Morioka in the Tohoku region, which was hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami.

"Any money raised by us, the World Cup family, will be a great inspiration for skiers in Tohoku and the rest of Japan who are suffering at the moment," he wrote.

Sasaki says money raised by his "World Cup brothers and sisters" will inspire skiers in Japan.

World Cup races carry prize money of $109,000.

Last year, Alpine skiers responded to the Haiti earthquake by offering autographed race bibs for an auction. More than $90,000 was raised for relief work by the American Red Cross.