Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs resident Jon Wade imagines a day when visitors and locals will stroll down Yampa Street and soak up our city’s rich Olympic tradition at the same time.
“We wanted to create a way to remember our town’s Olympic heritage,” Wade said Wednesday.
Thus the creation of a Walk of Olympians, a series of 18-by-18-inch bronze plaques to be placed along the Yampa Street sidewalk to honor the 80-plus Olympic athletes who grew up in Steamboat Springs, live here now, or were members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
The idea was not Wade’s, but when the future of the project came up at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s fall retreat, he spoke up and got the idea rolling once again.
“I was the spark, but I was surrounded by a lot of dry kindling,” Wade recalled. “The idea just took off.”
Wade said the bronze plaques are going to be placed along the sidewalk that runs along Yampa Street behind The Olympian and Howelsen Place developments. The bronze plaques will include two images of each athlete — a portrait and action shot. The plaques also will include the events and years of each athlete’s Olympic appearances and the plaque sponsor’s name. The medals the athletes won, if any, also will be included. Only athletes who are no longer competing and will not return to competition are eligible for a plaque.
“Our Olympic Heritage is what makes Steamboat Springs truly unique,” said Candice Bannister, director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum. “Celebrating our Olympians through the Walk of Olympians project enables visitors and locals to lean about our town’s dedication to these athletes. Beginning with early ski jumping coach Carl Howelsen to the Olympic athletes who will compete in Vancouver in 2010, our Olympic legacy remains strong.”
Bannister also thinks the walk will reflect the former athletes’ influence on Steamboat. She is intrigued by the circle in which athletes train and compete at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and then come back later in life to influence the progress of current athletes. She thinks that makes the walk more significant.
Wade said there were nine spots available in the first wave of plaques, and five of those already have been sponsored. The first Steamboat Olympians to be included in the walk will include Buddy Werner (sponsored by Jon Wade), John Steele (Bill Banks), Ricky Mewborn (Feldmann Nagel, LLC), Todd Wilson (Resort Group) and Skeeter Werner (Jim and Susan Larson). Wade said a sixth spot also has been spoken for, and he hopes to have the remaining plaques sponsored by the end of next week. The goal is for the first plaques to be finished in time to be displayed at the Olympic send-off ceremonies Feb. 5.
Wade said the plaques will be permanently installed next spring or summer.
This first wave is only the beginning. Walk of Olympians organizers hope more sponsors will come forward and that additional plaques will be added as the redevelopment of Yampa Street continues and the sidewalks are expanded. The goal is for all of Steamboat’s Olympic athletes to one day have a spot along the walk.
The cost to sponsor a plaque is $1,750, which includes the bronze plaque, installation and future maintenance costs. A portion of the money will go to the Winter Sports Club.
The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association in collaboration with the city of Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. and Mainstreet Steamboat Springs is spearheading the project. The Walk of Olympians committee includes Sandy Evans Hall, Tracy Barnett, Rick DeVos, Jon Roberts, Mike Lane, Lynna Broyles, Joe Cashen, Jonathan Spence, Laura Cusenbary, Paul Franklin, Mark Scully, Philo Shelton, Tom Wilson, Tom Simmins and Wade.
For more information or to become a sponsor, call Jon Wade at 970-819-6930 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.