The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are right around the corner, and a town in northwest Colorado that serves as an assembly line for snowsports champions organized a going-away party on Saturday to send its hometown Olympic heroes off in style.
The festivities began with a skills demonstration from participants in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which over the years has produced 79 Olympians. Afterwards, this year’s crop of competitors were honored onstage along with local wounded warriors and guests were treated to a torch relay, the lighting of a 15-foot cauldron that will remain lit throughout the Games, fireworks, a flash mob dance, and birthday cake.
“It’s not one entity or organization, but the entire community that openly embraces these athletes and plays a key role in establishing the core foundation for Steamboat,” said Rob Perlman, Steamboat’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing . “The Olympic celebration and send-off is a way for the entire community to come together to celebrate the spirit of competition and all that these athletes have accomplished.”
In addition to American athletes such as Billy Demong (Nordic combined), Todd Lodwick (Nordic combined), Taylor and Bryan Fletcher (Nordic combined), Hannah Kearney (freestyle skiing), Eliza Outtrim (freestyle skiing), Patrick Deneen, (freestyle skiing), Taylor and Arielle Gold (snowboard halfpipe), and Justin Reiter (alpine snowboard racing), the send- off had a distinctly international flavor. Several Steamboat-based international Olympians were honored as well, including three Australians, Jarryd Hughes, Belle Brockhoff, and Richard Wilkes as well as the Czech snowbaorder Ester Ledecka.
While the athletes took part in an autograph-signing stroll around the village at the base of the ski resort, Steamboat opened up 1,100 vertical feet of its mountain to night skiing, a new feature this year at the resort, which has received more than 200 inches of snowfall this season.