Saturday, December 3, 2011
Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Joel here.
Steamboat Springs It sometimes feels as common as “Come for the winter, stay for the summer.” The past week has showed me the phrase “It takes a village” — as it relates to Steamboat Springs and potential Olympic athletes — is maybe even truer.
All alone on the Continental Divide Trail with nothing but a CamelBak, a Gary Fisher and a day to kill, Steamboat’s summers do seem like a reason to stay. But covering the efforts of local Nordic combined athletes this past week, I felt like I had a glimpse into a family, and as the snow is falling and the town eagerly awaits new terrain at Steamboat Ski Area, I remembered that warm feeling, even on a cold day, is why I’m here.
Saturday brought Nordic combined racing back to Steamboat for the winter. Athletes flew from the jumps at Howelsen Hill and later raced around the groomed loops of the Steamboat Ski Touring Center, which already had hosted one Nordic cross-country ski race that day. A glance into how it all happened reveals just how much of a village it took.
Volunteers helped across town all day long — so many of them old friends from similar races and events.
Looking for a good place to photograph Saturday’s jumping, I ended up at the bottom of the line of markers, the volunteers who stand beside the ski jump and determine where an athlete landed.
Directly above me, and sporting a shovel that came in handy carving out a platform I could stand on, was Rick Denney, father of U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team member Brett Denney and aspiring Alpine snowboarder Garrett Denney. Above him was Dennis Lodwick, father of Todd Lodwick.
They helped break me in to ski jump spotting, though I never exactly got good at it. You’re supposed to pinpoint the spot where the jumper first hits both feet down. It sounds like science, but I’m convinced there has to be some guessing going on.
What stood out wasn’t so much their ability to know within inches — or millimeters, as the case may be — where a skier actually touched down, but how long they’d been doing it, sometimes in freezing cold weather and sometimes on days so warm puddles formed at the bottom.
They cheered not only for their sons but for all the local jumpers.
It fit perfectly with everything else I saw this week from Steamboat’s ski family. That community came together to host athletes from the Czech Republic. The Gantick family welcomed the European jumpers to their house for Thanksgiving and a bonfire. Dan Dean and Resort Group LLC helped with a condo for their stay, Birgitta Lindgen and the Steamboat Ski Touring Center helped with Nordic passes and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club helped with jump hill fees.
The village came out for what wasn’t even a huge competition. It was cool to see, and it’s one of the reasons I love living in Steamboat.
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com