Wednesday, January 23, 2002
Steamboat Springs With a current count of 15 athletes traveling to the 2002 Olympics, Steamboat just might top the list as the community that claims the most competitors.
The Steamboat entourage equals the amount sent to Nagano, Japan, in 1998, which was a record-breaking year for Ski Town USA.
"When I first heard about Steamboat, it was the community with the most Olympians in the United States. That has got to be expanded to any community in the world," said Rick DeVos, executive director of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
These Olympic athletes will boost Steamboat's overall count to 90 Olympic appearances and 58 Olympians.
As the Nordic combined and freestyle teams named their members over the weekend, Steamboat's Olympic tally grew. Although the Alpine team is not yet named, the World Cup podium finish of hometown skier Caroline Lalive makes her a sure bet for a second Olympic appearance.
Perhaps the strongest Steamboat showing is in the jumping events where all seven Nordic combined U.S. Team members and four of the five U.S. special jumpers claim Steamboat ties.
While two on the Nordic Combined team Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane were born in Steamboat, Matt Dayton, Bill Demong, Kristoffer Erichsen, Carl Van Loan and Jed Hinkley are all members of the Winter Sports Club.
Special jumpers Clint Jones and Tommy Schwall were raised in Steamboat and Alan Alborn and Brendan Doran have trained here.
Other Olympians will come from the freestyle team, including Ann Battelle, who will be competing in her fourth Olympics, and Travis Mayer. Snowboarder Shannon Dunn, who lived in Steamboat, rounds out the list as she looks for a second Olympic medal in the halfpipe.
DeVos said that in the past decade, Steamboat's Olympic numbers have grown. In 1992, 10 Steamboat athletes went to Albertville, France, and 11 went to Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994.
An injury sustained by downhill skier Chad Fleischer, who trained in Steamboat and was expected to take a spot on the U.S. Alpine Team, kept this year's number from topping Nagano.
But 15 athletes still bodes well for Steamboat, DeVos said.
" This is not only good for the Winter Sports Club, it's great for the valley. It's the heart and tradition with being Ski Town U.S.A," he said. "It's something to be proud of. People can celebrate what we do here as a community."