What better place for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club to honor its top athletes than in a hall named after Olympians?
A parade of athletes made their way to the stage during an hour-long ceremony at Howelsen Hill's Olympian Hall on Tuesday night. Seventeen awards were handed out to 22 different athletes during the evening.
"I didn't really expect to win," freestyle skier Patty Hanley said. She took home the Charles Abernathy Memorial "True Grit" Award, which goes to an athlete who shows a strong work ethic and unequalled enthusiasm.
"I was excited for everyone who won tonight," Hanley said.
She said winning an end-of-season award is a special moment for any athlete -- the type of moment that can last for a lifetime or at least motivate them for the next season.
For the athletes winning awards such as the Kirby, Hobart, Grant, Ritter, Stahly, Madsen or the Abernathy means they served as examples -- on and off the snow -- for the Winter Sports Club to look to.
The names that grace these trophies are a tribute to the history and tradition of the Winter Sports Club in Steamboat.
"These athletes will go on to make great contributions to their community and that's what it's all about," Alpine coach Tony Nunnikhoven said during his presentation. "You are the legacy of the Winter Sports Club -- you really are."
In fact, most of the awards, which were handed out Tuesday night, said more about the athlete's character than about the results on the snow.
Thirteen-year-old Kristopher Allen is a perfect example.
He hasn't competed in a race for almost two years, but was given the Ritter Memorial Courage Cup for his desire to get back on skis after suffering a knee injury that has required repeated surgeries.
"This award means a lot to me," Allen said. "It was a nice thing to get since I haven't been around the club much lately."
But Allen's love of skiing and his dedication to get back on the slopes made him the natural choice to be given the award -- which was presented by past winner Bob Dapper.
"Most of the awards these athletes win are about achievement, but the Ritter is about accomplishment," Dapper said. "Part of winning the cup is about great success, but it doesn't come without serious challenges."
But athletes were not the only club members who made their way to the stage during this show.
Alpine coach Sue Swartz was named coach of the year, and snowboard coach Kevin "Cactus" Nemec was the club's rookie of the year.
Most of the coaches and athletes at the club will tell you that it would be hard to succeed on the snow if not for the support of the community.
This year, Ed and June MacArthur were given the John Fetcher Honorary Sustaining Member Award, which goes to those who have demonstrated an unselfish commitment to the club. Past winners include Becky Lamb, Larry Johnson and Kathy Crawford. Roger Perricone, Larry Stevenson, Steve Kotts and Pamela "Granny" MacPherson have also won.
"They really surprised me," MacArthur said. "I thought my son was going to get an award, so I drove from Denver to get here today -- this was pretty unexpected."
MacArthur sees his support as a small contribution to a program that is vital to the Steamboat community. He said it's easy to see the positive impacts the Winter Sports Club has in Steamboat and wants to make sure it continues to provide a place for children to grow in the future. Rick DeVos, the Winter Sports Club's executive director, agrees.
"The athletes in this room only represent about one-tenth of one percent of what this club does," DeVos said. "Our real goal is to build great community members through winter sports."