John F. Russell: Home sweet home

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— It wasn’t long ago that Rick Mewborn would have drooled at the idea of getting a World Cup, Continental Cup or any other major international competition to come to the ski jumps at Howelsen Hill.

These days, the longtime Steamboat Springs resident isn’t worried about getting. He’s more into giving.

Mewborn was a member of the U.S. Special Jumping Ski Team from 1983 to 1986. During that stretch, he competed in World Cup competitions, but he never got the chance to see a World Cup, or Con­­tin­­ental Cup for that matter, in Steamboat.

For the 1988 Olympian, competing at home meant having an event in Lake Pla­cid, N.Y., or Canada. The U.S. National Championships, which he won in 1986, was about as big as things got in the Yampa Valley.

He retired from ski jumping before Steamboat hosted its first Nordic combined World Cup in the early 1990s. He hung up his boards long before Todd Lodwick earned his first World Cup victory and before the U.S. Nordic combined team was a legitimate threat at the international level, let alone a threat to win an Olympic medal.

But Mewborn is a Nordic skier at heart, and he remains loyal to the sport and to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, for which his children now ski.

He said his business has been successful the past several years, so when the opportunity came for Steam­boat Springs to host the 2010 FIS Contin­ental Cup, he stepped up to give today’s hometown athletes the chance he never got.

“It would have been huge,” Mewborn said about the chance to ski in a Nordic competition in his hometown. “I think every athlete dreams of competing at home.”

Mewborn’s experience as a World Cup competitor is a reason he is lending a hand to support the Continental Cup. His company, Nordic Excav­ating, is the title sponsor of the weekend’s Continental Cup.

“This is my chance to give back,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate. Six years ago, I opened my company, and it’s gone pretty well for me.”

That give-back attitude is one of the reasons Steamboat Springs is known as Ski Town USA, and one of the reasons our town has produced more Olympians than any other.

That give-back attitude is a big reason athletes come here to train, and a big reason this mountain town’s reputation stretches across the world.

This week, Mewborn should take pride in our skiing heritage along with the Steam­boat Springs Winter Sports Club, Howelsen Place, Rab­­bit Ears Motel, Resort Broad­­band, Johnny B. Good’s Diner, the Alpiner Lodge, Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs, The Tap House Sports Grill, Colorado Mountain College Food Ser­vices, Hotel Bristol, Sno­­max, USSA and the city of Steamboat Springs for supporting the Contin­­ental Cup.

Thanks to those sponsors, the next generation of Steamboat Olympians will not have to dream of competing at home, they can live it.

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