Wednesday, February 27, 2002
We cannot put enough emotion into any words on paper to say THANKS enough for the support this community has given us over the years. It is an unbelievable feeling of gratitude we will never forget when you feel that every person who lives in this valley along with organizations like the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., the city of Steamboat Springs and so many more support you no matter what with out asking anything in return. After our last Olympic competition during one of the news conferences, I was asked by one of the leading sports writers from USA Today what the people back in Steamboat would think of us after "we came up short" in the medals. My reply was it is always nice to go home to Steamboat because they love us no matter what. On Sunday when my son opened the paper and said, "Dad look at this." I saw the drawing of the Olympian podium with our team on top. It was just too much.
Later that morning one of the athletes called to ask if I had seen it. He was literally choking back the tears.
There is not much else we could have done or would like to take back over the past six to eight years in our quest for the medal. We left no stones unturned and no physical effort could have been greater. Todd Lodwick (my hero) still does not know that after his cross country skiing in our team event. When medical personnel could not stabilize him with fluids and oxygen they came to me with concerns that he had literally given his heart, that this kind of damage is not normal and there could be internal bleeding in his lungs and possible heart injury from over exertion beyond what the body can take.
They gave it ALL.
The Olympics is an emotional roller coaster beyond description. We will remember these competitions our entire lives. It is said that fourth place is the hardest place to ever finish in the Olympic Games. Based on the tears in our team's house that night in Park City, I could not agree more.
But this will be the Olympics I think all of the team members will remember with their proudest memories over time, because the Olympics are about a whole lot more than just the medal count. The new president of the USOC, Lloyd Ward, has said, "The Olympics are about winning the hearts and minds of Americans and giving the youth of this country something to dream about."
Coming home to this community has convinced all of us we have done just that and we would not trade all the gold medals in the Olympics if it meant having to represent any other place but here.
Tom Steitz on behalf of the 2002 Nordic Combined Team
Todd Lodwick, Billy Demong, Johnny Spillane, Matt Dayton, Jed Hinkley, Carl Vanloan, Kris Erichsen, Jan-Erik Aalbu and Bard Elden