Thursday, February 28, 2002
Steamboat Springs Tonight at midnight, the cauldron on the courthouse lawn that has burned for an entire month to show the community's appreciation for its local Olympians will be extinguished.
The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. has confirmed that all 16 Steamboat Olympians have returned to the city, if only for a brief time before going away again for competitions, said Andy Wirth, vice president of marketing.
"We can't thank the entire community enough, especially all the companies that stepped up to keep the cauldron burning, for their support of this program," Wirth said. "We expect to see the cauldron becoming a community tradition in future Olympic years."
The city and the ski company had discussed holding a welcome-back celebration after the Olympics but decided to wait until everyone has come back home for good. Many of the athletes from Steamboat have already gone away again to places such as Japan to compete in World Cup events. The closing celebration will likely happen in April, Wirth said.
The Ski Corp. built the 12-foot-high steel structure that was powered by FerrellGas and created enough of a flame to heat a cauldron eight feet in diameter. The cauldron was first lit at an Olympic send-off celebration on Feb. 2 and has burned bright ever since.
Since the cauldron was lit, local sponsors have paid to keep the gas flowing.