I surprised even myself Tuesday.
I couldn’t believe how much I cared about a sport I have never tried nor had even heard of until moving to Steamboat Springs a little more than seven years ago.
But there I was Tuesday afternoon with my wife, Meg, and a few hundred other folks crowded around the giant, portable TV screen in front of One Steamboat Place.
My pulse raced as the 3 p.m. start time for the cross-country portion of the Olympic Nordic combined team event neared. I shifted my weight nervously from side to side as we watched Brett Camerota, Todd Lodwick, Johnny Spillane and finally Billy Demong complete their 5-kilometer laps.
I joined the rest of the assembled crowd in cheers whenever the European announcers from the live Web video stream mentioned Steamboat Springs or one of our hometown athletes. I happily followed suit when those hollers grew in volume and intensity as the race wore on.
It was as if I — or better, we — could have a role in the outcome if we just cheered loudly enough. And though gold wasn’t to be, I left Gondola Square feeling particularly patriotic and proud of my city and its Olympians.
Perhaps what contributed to Tuesday being such a special experience for me is that I made the effort to leave the office in the midst of an incredibly busy workday and trek across town to join fellow residents in a truly unique gathering and celebration. I’m used to experiencing news and sporting events from a work perspective — without an emotional attachment and often via e-mail or cell phone updates from reporters and photos and video footage from photographers. It’s not often enough that I pry myself away from the desk to take part in one of the many special events that occur in our community.
And something else struck me Tuesday while I stood among fellow residents outside One Steamboat Place. I was reminded that despite all our discord about important and polarizing issues such as Steamboat 700, we are part of a community wonderfully adept at shedding its differences and coming together to celebrate the pride we have for our city and its people, and some of them just happen to be Olympic medalists.
See you today in Gondola Square at One Steamboat Place?