Penny Fletcher: Steamboat locals make positive impressions at Sochi Games |

Penny Fletcher: Steamboat locals make positive impressions at Sochi Games

Penny Fletcher/For the Steamboat Today

Sochi has come and gone, and now, we are just trying to get back into the swing of life. Bryan and Taylor are still out there competing and will finish this incredibly long season in Sweden this weekend. It was such an adventure, and in the end, it was an experience that I never will regret seeing. The Olympics is the only event in the world that you can attend and witness the entire world coming together to celebrate athletic accomplishments of all nations.

Watching the opening ceremony is always a monumental event when the host nation shows off the talents of its countrymen. Russia's history, its arts and literature and incredible music all were profiled on one spectacular night. I still wonder how the Russians got that huge ship into the stadium for the opening ceremony. I cannot imagine what we have in store during the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

I still can remember watching the opening ceremony of the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics on TV and thinking how magnificent it was and what a spectacular country that was. It was only in 1992 that the success of the Olympics would be scarred by conflict, and the Olympic venue would become a staging location for war. I pray that my memories of Russia never will be ruined by pending war and political destruction.

The Russians for the most part were very proud of the accomplishments they achieved and the venues they created in seven years. The Russian volunteers were extremely proud of the games, and they certainly should have been.

I did leave Sochi with concern about the longevity of the area and the welfare of the locals who reside there — the farmers who lost their land to put in a high-speed train, or fishermen who will no longer have the rivers to support the industry and the pollution that forever will plague the Black Sea from all the construction in the mountain areas and in the region.

What I do know is Steamboat Springs has some very talented individuals who helped some of these athletes achieve their dreams. I think that without some serious hard work and creativity by these Steamboat locals, the Olympics in Russia might have had a different outcome.

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Kris Severson, the son of longtime locals Jim and Anne Severson, was responsible for the video, sound and TV production at the jumping, free skiing/extreme venues. Kris attended Steamboat Springs High School and was an active member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. My sons grew up watching Kris training with all his fellow athletes in their backyard during the summer as well as watching him compete during the winter.

I really think that Kris was one of the main reasons Bryan and Taylor started jumping. Kris is experiencing his dream right now and has enabled many athletes and their families to start new ones.

David Jarrett (D.J.), son of Howard and Sara Jarrett, is the head coach of the Nordic combined program. D.J. graduated from The Lowell Whiteman School and went on to earn degrees from CU in kinesiology and applied physiology. D.J. is an athlete and competed three times in the FIS World Championships and twice in the Olympic Winter Games. D.J. has a resume of accomplishments as an athlete that is quite impressive, and he has been a coach with the U.S. Ski Team since 2002. During that time, the U.S. Nordic combined team has won four Olympic medals — one gold and three silver — as well as seven FIS World Championship medals and more to come. D.J. is the voice for many athletes in this sport, and just knowing that he is behind the success of my boys is worth a good night’s sleep.

Lindsey Early Simbeye, the daughter of Hobey and Patti Early, was instrumental in securing advertising, marketing and athlete promotion for many young athletes out there. Lindsey is a graduate of Steamboat Springs High School and works for Matter Inc. All those successful North Face and Kellogg's athletes were lucky to have Lindsey by their side during these games. Lindsey is a new mom, and she worked hard during these games, keeping the athletes on a schedule to meet and greet all while leaving her family life behind for weeks. It was fun to watch Lindsey in action and see how professional and calm she remained with all the responsibilities she dealt with on a daily basis.  

As I type this blog, the Paralympic Games are taking place in Sochi. Those athletes are amazing. They go out every day with a smile on their face and tackle the elements with zest and an intense commitment to achieve a dream. These athletes demonstrate passion, commitment and spirit, and many are lucky to have longtime locals Dave Marks and Greg Rawlins in Sochi coaching the Nordic/Alpine teams. I know these coaches are acting as wax techs, psychologists, equipment managers and housecleaners when needed. Dave and Greg successfully are helping many athletes realize their dreams right now in Sochi.

It was really nice to know that Steamboat Pilot & Today reporters Luke Graham and Joel Reichenberger were there to get the story. I found myself searching for their articles so I knew what was happening at the Olympics. Great job by both talented reporters in getting the information out there. All the articles, photos and Facebook posts really made it easy for us to get the necessary information.

It has been fun sharing my adventure with you. I hope to have a community slide show down the road of this amazing event, and feel free to send me an email with any questions. My email address is I am more than happy to share with you this great adventure.

Cheers to future dreams and being Steamboat proud!

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