If you go
What: Olympic Send-off & Community Celebration
When: 6:30 p.m. today
Where: Routt County Courthouse, Sixth Street and Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat
Other: The event will include the lighting of the community cauldron, a Flying Aces trampoline act, fireworks and autograph sessions with past and present Olympians
Cost: Free; attendees urged to purchase $7 Winter Carnival buttons, which provide admission to this weekend’s carnival events
The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club says the following 16 Olympians representing four nations have ties to Steamboat Springs.
■ Alpine snowboard
Tyler Jewell, United States
Michelle Gorgone, United States
Johanna Shaw, Australia
Kimiko Zakreski, Canada
Caroline Calve, Canada
Adam McLeish, Great Britain
■ Snowboard cross
Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, United States
■ Nordic combined
Todd Lodwick, United States
Johnny Spillane, United States
Billy Demong, United States
Brett Camerota, United States
Taylor Fletcher, United States
■ Freestyle moguls
Patrick Deneen, United States
Mike Morse, United States
Ellie Koyander, Great Britain
Jeremy Cota, United States (alternate)
■ Freestyle aerials
Ryan St. Onge, United States
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs residents have grown accustomed to sending a dozen or more athletes to the Winter Olympics, but they’ve never seen anything to match this.
When 5,000 or more eager celebrants crowd into downtown today for the Olympic Send-off & Community Celebration at 6:30 p.m. on the courthouse lawn, expectations will be high. That’s because three world champions — all of them seemingly at the peaks of their careers — are headed north to Vancouver, British Columbia.
Johnny Spillane, Todd Lodwick and Billy Demong, all with deep ties to the community, have world championship medals in the sport of Nordic combined skiing stowed in their trophy cases. And based on this winter’s competition results, all are skiing well enough to mine some medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
This mountain town that has nurtured 80 Olympians in one way or another throughout the years never has sent this much star power to the world’s biggest stage.
Nordic combined is one of the most demanding events in all of winter sports. It requires athletes to ski jump and race over a hilly course of a little more than 6 miles on cross-country skis.
Steamboat’s own Spillane broke through in 2003, surprising everyone in the sport with world championship gold in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
Hometown hero Lodwick grabbed not one, but two gold medals at the World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, a year ago. And Demong, of Lake Placid, N.Y., who based his training at Howelsen Hill for many years, added a world championship bronze and a gold last winter to go with the silver he won in Sapporo, Japan, in 2007.
All three world champs will be on hand for tonight’s spectacle on the Routt County Courthouse lawn along with 14 other 2010 Olympians in freestyle skiing, snowboarding and Nordic combined. Among them will be Steamboat’s newest Olympian, 19-year-old Nordic combined skier Taylor Fletcher.
Conveniently, the U.S. freestyle moguls team is in town training at Steamboat Ski Area, meaning Patrick Deneen and Mike Morse, both with local ties, will be on hand, as well.
Flying Aces downtown
Steamboat will light its own Olympic flame tonight as TV sportscaster Drew Soicher, of 9News in Denver, calls the play-by-play.
The Olympian Send-off will celebrate the high-flying tradition of freestyle skiing as another Steamboat Olympian, Kris “Fuzz” Feddersen, presents his Flying Aces trampoline act featuring four athletes — two pure trampolinists and two more spinning through the air on skis and snowboards in a choreographed routine set to lights and music.
Feddersen, 46, competed in Calgary, Alberta, in 1988 (placing fourth), and again in Albertville, France, in 1992 and Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. During a long career, he stood on 30 World Cup podiums.
Feddersen was excited to be back in Steamboat this week.
“I skied on the mountain yesterday,” he said, “and the memories came flooding back. I remembered being in a rat pack of kids that skied all over the mountain and caught air everywhere we could.”
Feddersen’s protégés will be catching frightening amounts of air during tonight’s show, but Fuzz, recovering from knee surgery, probably will resist the temptation to go big.
The evening will reach a crescendo with fireworks timed to a specially produced video.
People attending the Olympic Send-off are being urged to purchase $7 Winter Carnival buttons that will provide admission to the rest of the weekend’s organized events. This year’s button, slung from a red, white and blue ribbon, emulates an Olympic gold medal.
People eager to meet and greet past Olympians will find them signing commemorative posters at locations scattered around downtown after the show.
■ Billy Kidd at Steamboat Ski & Sport in Howelsen Place, 700 block Lincoln Ave.
■ Johnny Spillane, Billy Demong and Brett Camerota at Vectra Bank, 703 Lincoln Ave.
■ Ann Battelle at High Mountain Sotheby’s Realty, 708 Lincoln Ave.
■ Todd Lodwick, Taylor Fletcher and Dave Jarrett at Steamboat Smokehouse, 912 Lincoln Ave.
■ Nelson Carmichael at Off the Beaten Path, 68 Ninth St.