Steamboat Springs Rich Weiss has been, and now, literally, always will be a part of the Yampa River.
As part of the Yampa River Festival, a bronze statue of Weiss, a two-time Olympic kayaker, will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Sunday, at the Dr. Rich Weiss Park.
"In my opinion, he's one of my biggest heroes," said Peter Van De Carr of Backdoor Sports, who was instrumental in getting not only a statue erected, but changing the name of the park.
Weiss, who went to the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, in 1992 and in Atlanta in 1996, drowned in late June of 1997 while kayaking the White Salmon River in the state of Washington. In October of that year, the City Council passed a resolution to rename the Yampa River Park in honor of Weiss on the strength of 700 signatures collected from the community by Van De Carr.
The statue was built at a cost of about $30,000, and has been a work in progress since Weiss' death. Van De Carr credited the city of Steamboat Springs and the local arts council, as well as the numerous contributors who pitched in when the project went over budget. The statue is the work of 22-year-old Tyler
"It's quite a community effort in response to the tragic death of a guy who really pretty much started the whole sport of kayaking in Steamboat Springs," Van De Carr said.