Steamboat Springs One of the benefits of winning an Olympic silver medal is that you can normally get the attention of a room full of eighth-grade boys for an extended period of time.
Steamboat Springs freestyle skier Travis Mayer proved that it was not only possible to get it, but that he could keep a group of middle school boys on the edge of their seats for most of his 40-minute presentation Thursday afternoon in the Steamboat Grand's Priest Creek room.
During the speech, the Salt Lake City Olympian relived his skiing experiences leading up to and including the Olympics to the young audience. He also recalled his favorite experiences at the games and let everybody know just what was going through his mind during his medal-winning run at the Deer Valley Resort last February.
"That is what I had dreamed about my entire life," Mayer said of being at the Olympics. "So I just wanted to have fun and enjoy it."
Mayer also answered a number of questions from the crowd and ended the presentation with a video of his performance at the Games.
Then he invited the young students to the podium for a closer look at the trophy he brought back from Utah.
"I felt like it was dragging a little bit near the end, so I decided it was time to pull out the medal," Mayer said.
It wasn't too long after he had taken the prized medal out of the box that the Steamboat Springs Olympian found himself surrounded by a sea of middle school students asking more questions and wanting a chance to hold the medal for themselves.
This type of attention is nothing new for Mayer, who has been flooded with attention since winning his Olympic medal two months ago.
He just returned to Steamboat Springs a few days ago for his first extended stay since the games came to an end.
"It's been an enormous change," Mayer said of his post-Salt Lake life. "But while my life may have changed, I'm still the same guy."
That's why Mayer spent one of his first days back home speaking at his former high school, Lowell Whiteman, in the morning and talking to middle school children in the afternoon.
He is hoping to use his influence as an Olympian to help those students learn to set life-long goals of their own and realize those dreams can come true.
Mayer encouraged the young students at this session to chase their dreams and to go for it. It was that same "go for it" philosophy that helped propel him to a silver medal at the Olympic Games.
Mayer also said he hopes to get back into training routine here in Steamboat over the next few weeks before returning to Cornell University for the summer session.
Mayer wants to continue to go to school and ski competitively for the U.S. Ski Team through the 2006 season.
He hasn't made definite plans after that date, but he wants to make sure he completes his education no matter what happens on the ski slopes.
"I think a college education is really important," Mayer said.
He even commented that he would trade all of his skiing accomplishments if it meant getting a good college education.
Mayer is a graduate of the Lowell Whiteman School here in Steamboat Springs and is currently attending Cornell when he is not training or competing for the U.S. Ski Team.