Thursday, December 23, 2004
A light snow blanketed Howelsen Hill's ski trails in a fresh coat of white Thursday, just the way Ashley Stamp would have liked it.
The young ski racer was laid to rest Thursday afternoon in the Steamboat Springs Cemetery after an emotional funeral service at Steamboat Springs High School.
Family, friends, teammates, coaches, teachers and strangers packed the high school's gymnasium to bid tearful goodbyes to the 13-year-old who died Sunday when she collided with a snowmobile at Vail Ski Resort. The accident, which occurred while Ashley was warming up before a ski race, is under investigation.
"Dearest Ashley, we always received a lot from you," Jan Stamp, Ashley's grandmother, said before an audience of more than 1,000 mourners. "What a fun-filled, thrill-packed 13 years you had."
Many who attended the service wore orange -- Ashley's favorite color -- and some of her friends and soccer and ski teammates tied orange bandanas around their limbs in memory of their friend.
Shortly before the service began, some of Ashley's friends shuffled by her open casket, catching a final glimpse of their friend and laying orange flowers at the base of her coffin. A few minutes later, Ashley's family gathered in front of the casket, arms draped around each other, and looked upon the brown-haired girl remembered for the kindness she showed others and for her notable athletic abilities. Aaron Stamp, Ashley's father, clutched his daughter's tiger-painted ski helmet as he walked from the casket to his seat at the front of the gym.
After opening statements by Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club executive director Rick DeVos and a prayer by Monsignor George Schroeder, Jane Melvin sang "Amazing Grace."
Jan Stamp then walked to the podium to share a letter she wrote for the service.
"There must be a heaven, and you will blow their socks off when you arrive," she said to Ashley.
She reminded the silent audience that her granddaughter will live on in the hearts and minds of all who knew her.
"She will be the breeze upon your face, the sunshine in your heart and the angel upon your shoulder. We will never forget you, Ashley. It is with much regret that we have to give you up."
Steamboat Springs Middle School principal Tim Bishop remembered Ashley for her "infectious smile" and "inviting personality." She was a student who "brightened the hallways for the past two years."
"All of us here today can take from her a love and respect for yourself and a true passion for life," Bishop said.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Vice President Alan Ashley compared the aspiring ski racer to her hero, Olympic champion Picabo Street.
The one-hour service ended with a video tribute of Ashley's life, a montage of pictures that began with a photo of proud parents Aaron and Kelly Stamp holding their baby daughter shortly after Ashley's birth. The tribute included video footage of Ashley carving turns through slalom gates.
After the funeral service, mourners gathered in the high school commons area to share their memories of Ashley.
The service was followed by a private, family graveside ceremony.