Thanks to the patience and cooperation of Routt County athletes, coaches and parents -- and no thanks to a nasty cold -- I survived my second year of "The Week."
Every January, sports editor John Russell takes a family vacation to a Disney theme park, leaving the other sportswriter behind to cover the entire slate of events in his absence.
And for the past two years, that other sportswriter has been me.
When I interviewed for this job, I was too in love with the idea of moving to Steamboat Springs to question the necessity of my position, but I doubted Routt County could generate enough sports stories for one -- let alone two reporters -- to cover.
In the past week alone, I've sat down with Olympian Todd Lodwick to discuss his past and called Olympian Travis Mayer to discuss his future.
I talked to cowboy Tuff Hedeman, a former World Champion bull rider, and with snowboarder Erin Simmons about her Olympic dreams before she left for the X Games.
I watched the Steamboat Springs hockey team move closer to upending rivals Battle Mountain and Aspen. Then I turned around to see the Steamboat girls basketball team end years of frustration by beating rival Moffat County on Erin Christensen's last-second shot.
I started dreading "The Week" a month before John left, writing down everything sports related that was taking place in Steamboat, Hayden and South Routt between Jan. 17 and Jan. 24. I reminded John it was going to be impossible to get to everything and recap everything.
He nodded. He knew. He'd covered this county alone for a decade.
Where I grew up in Iowa, the winter was left for wrestling, basketball or sledding (if there was any snow and the wind chill wasn't minus 30).
Perhaps it was in my hometown of 6,000 people that I created this perception that small communities create few sports stories.
But Steamboat and the surrounding areas are not your typical small towns. Routt County has a seemingly wider number of opportunities for athletes -- and subsequently more stories -- than I ever could have imagined.
I knew of Steamboat because I grew up watching the Olympics, but it never occurred to me the Winter Sports Club was behind the scenes, developing hundreds of young athletes in alpine, freestyle or Nordic skiing, ski jumping, biathlon or snowboarding.
I didn't know cowboys came to town to ski. I didn't know there would be a combined 15 winter sports offered between the three county high schools.
But in John's absence, I've been able to cover a wide range of sporting events and meet and communicate with athletes and coaches who I rarely have the opportunity to work with, which has made this past week one of the best in my relatively short professional career.
I had a lot of late nights, and I still have my cold, but weeks like the one that just ended reaffirm my decision to become a writer.
It wasn't a job. It was a joy.