Mewborn selected as Olympic groomer

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— The memories and feelings of the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary will no doubt be on the mind of local resident Rick Mewborn on Friday.

The former Olympian, who stopped competing shortly after the Calgary Games, left for Park City on Monday. Mewborn will not be making a comeback as an athlete or a coach at this year's Winter Games but will be working for the Salt Lake Games as a winch cat driver.

His primary responsibility will be to make sure the special jumping and Nordic combined hills are properly groomed prior to practices and events during the 17-day stretch.

"There were a lot of good winch cat drivers who wanted the job, but not all of them had experience as a ski jumper," Mewborn said. "I think that was one of the reasons I got the job."

Mewborn has plenty of experience both on the jump hill and handling heavy equipment. He coached for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the U.S. Ski Team after retiring, and he has worked for Native Excavating in Steamboat for the past several years.

"We think it's great that Ricky is going to the Olympics," said fellow Native employee Dalayne Vollstedt. "It's just super."

Making the 1988 Olympic team may have been the crowning moment of a seven-year ski jumping career for Mewborn.

He was a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1981 to 1988 and competed in the Olympic Games.

Mewborn was named to the team at age 14. He missed the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, but got his shot four years later in Canada.

"I think he feels like it was a very memorable event," said Rick's mother, Ruth Ann Mewborn. "I think he remembers the friends and his Olympic teammates from that year. It was a very special time for him."

This year, Mewborn will not be soaring above the jump hills in Utah, but he will get a chance to recapture the magic of the Olympic Games.

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