Winter Sports Club at the 'top of the hill'

Group receives award from prestigious museum's Hall of Fame

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— Executive Director Rick DeVos says he always knew that the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Cub was at the top of the skiing world, but it's nice that someone else agrees.

On Saturday in Denver, the Colorado Skiing and Snowboarding Museum and Hall of Fame made it official by rewarding the club with the "Top of the Hill" award, which recognizes a club or entity that has contributed to the development of skiing in Colorado. Paul Bailey, Merrill Hastings Jr., Bill Jensen and Knox Williams were inducted into Colorado's Skiing Hall of Fame on Saturday.

The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is the oldest ski club west of the Mississippi River. It has a long, rich tradition of ski jumping, ski racing and Nordic skiing that dates back almost 100 years, when Carl Howelsen first brought ski jumping here in 1917.

I'm "very excited to be recognized by a prestigious keeper of Colorado's skiing legacy," DeVos said. "It was great to be a part of the Hall of Fame Gala and to be recognized for the role we play in skiing and snowboarding in the state of Colorado."

Justin Henderson, curator for the Colorado Ski Museum, cited the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's long history of producing Olympians as a main reason the club was honored at a banquet, which was held at the Denver Marriott City Center.

Henderson said this is the second time the "Top of the Hill" award has been given in its short history. The Ski Train, which travels from Denver to the Winter Park Ski Resort, received the honor in 2006.

"The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is getting in on the ground floor of this award," Henderson said. "The club's contributions to skiing and the community's support made Steamboat a natural choice."

The award is not the first time the community of Steamboat has been honored by the Colorado Skiing and Snowboarding Museum & Hall of Fame. A number of winter athletes with ties to Steamboat Springs have been honored by the organization in the past.

In fact, the large number of Olympic athletes that have called, or still call, Steamboat Springs home was one of the reasons Steamboat was honored with the "Top of the Hill" award.

"I'm sure that our long history of producing champions was a part of the decision," DeVos said. "It's amazing how big a player this club is inside the skiing community."

Although producing top skiers is one of the things the Winter Sports Club has been able to do throughout the years, DeVos said that isn't the driving force behind the club.

"Our goal is to help every athlete reach their own personal set of goals," DeVos said. "For some of them, that just happens to be making it to the Olympics."

DeVos also said the staff takes pride in receiving the award from the Colorado Skiing and Snowboarding Museum & Hall of Fame, but he understands that the honor has recognized generations of athletes, coaches, volunteers and support staff. He estimates that more than 19,000 skiers have passed through the doors of the club during its nearly 100-year history.

"It's been a common experience that makes this Ski Town USA, and the club never would have won this award without the support of the community," DeVos said. "Those of us who are involved with the club are very proud of what it's accomplished and what we are doing to continue the tradition."

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