Leif Hovelsen admires the statue of his father, Carl Howelsen, that was unveiled Friday evening at the Howelsen Place building at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Leif Hovelsen admires the statue of his father, Carl Howelsen, that was unveiled Friday evening at the Howelsen Place building at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Carl Howelsen statue unveiled downtown

City honors local ski jumping pioneer who helped found Winter Sports Club

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— From his perch in front of Howelsen Place, Carl Howelsen will be able to watch every future Winter Carnival, his son Leif Hovelsen said Friday night.

A bronze statue of Carl Howelsen - the famed Flying Norseman who brought ski jumping to Steamboat Springs in 1913, organized the first Winter Carnival the next year, helped found the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and convinced town fathers to construct the jumps at Howelsen Hill - was unveiled downtown Friday night amid the 96th annual Winter Carnival festivities.

"I'm convinced that Dad has been following us today," said Winter Carnival Grand Marshall Leif Hovelsen, 86. "This is more than words can describe."

Eager spectators packed the corner of Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue for Friday night's unveiling, eagerly snapping photographs of the still sheet-clad statue. Howelsen's likeness, standing with his skis and poles, was two years in the making by local artist Barbara Bouquet Robison, who described Howelsen as "one of my heroes."

Howelsen's arrival in Steamboat Springs "changed the destiny" of the town, Tread of Pioneers board president Jayne Hill said.

After the Norwegian-born Howelsen immigrated to the United States, he was spotted skiing off boat slips in Chicago and ended up joining Barnum and Bailey Circus, Hill said. After leaving the circus, Howelsen came west to Colorado. He fell in love with Steamboat when he came in from Hot Sulphur Springs for a jumping exhibition in 1913. He bought a ranch in Strawberry Park that summer and stayed in Steamboat until 1921, when he returned to Norway, Hill said.

"He really is the father of recreational skiing for Steamboat Springs and all of Colorado," Hill said.

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