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Celebrating the games

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More than 50 Olympic athletes have trained in Steamboat Springs. Dozens more have moved here to live.

So it's not surprising that Steamboat has again produced athletes who have qualified to compete in the 2002 Olympics in Utah.

But even for a town with an Olympic tradition as rich as ours, 15 Olympians is impressive. That's more athletes from Steamboat than from most states. Steamboat will have more Olympians competing next month than some small countries.

That it's the second consecutive Olympics for which 15 Steamboat athletes have qualified only enhances our Olympic heritage.

And never before have we entered the Olympics with as many medal chances as we do this time around. Shannon Dunn is a favorite to win gold in the snowboarding halfpipe and Caroline Lalive, skiing in four disciplines, is one of America's top medal hopefuls in the Alpine combined.

Todd Lodwick enters the Olympics as one of the favorites to medal in Nordic combined, and judging from their World Cup performances, Lodwick's teammates Bill Demong and Mat Dayton are both capable of bringing home a medal as well.

In fact, the Nordic combined team which lives and trains in Steamboat and includes Johnny Spillane, Kris Erichsen, Carl Van Loan and Jed Hinkley is among the favorites in the team competition.

In freestyle skiing, Ann Battelle gets her fourth crack at the Olympics while Travis Mayer has been the surprise of the season, winning the Gold Cup to lock up the first spot on the Olympic team. It would not be a surprise if either medaled.

Our ski jumping team is very young but also very talented. Alan Alborn leads the group and is a medal contender. Though only teen-agers, Clint Jones and Tommy Schwall have had impressive performances throughout the winter. And Brendan Doran has the experience of the 1998 Olympics under his belt.

All of the Steamboat athletes have demonstrated they are worthy of and ready for the world's biggest sports stage.

In Steamboat, the Winters Olympics is a subject as important to our town as the ski area, Howelsen Hill and summer tourists. So throughout today's newspaper we celebrate the Olympics, from our Olympic history on Page 1 to the cover photo of Lodwick ski jumping on our Olympic Preview section to the story of the Olympic Torch Run in Style.

We hope you enjoy these stories and photos in today's newspaper. And we hope you will join us in wishing our athletes the best of luck at the games.

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