Community spelling bee creates buzz in Steamboat |

Community spelling bee creates buzz in Steamboat

Saturday event draws 15 teams to challenge brains, encourage interaction

Nicole Inglis

Penny Deihl

— Someone who can spell "platypus" can surely spell "aardvark."

Or so thought Shelly Flanery, once a spelling bee champion in the fifth grade.

The Hayden resident had been practicing for the first com­­munity spelling bee for a week, calling her teammates with a word of the day.

She definitely was prepared for "platypus."

But while her teammate Mary Kinkel desperately tried to remind her, Flanery forgot the dreaded double "a" in "aardvark," sending her team out in the fourth round.

"It's always those little words that sneak up on you," Flanery said. "We're always ready for the big, long ones."

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The first event of its kind, held Sat­­urday at the Steamboat Sp­­rings Community Center, was sponsored by the Routt County Council on Aging; the Steam­­boat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services De­­part­­ment; Aging Well and the Over The Hill Gang.

In an effort to encourage interaction with seniors, each of the 15 teams of three had to have one member age 60 or older.

Laura Schmidt, Routt Coun­­ty Council on Aging executive director, said the event served numerous purposes in the senior community and beyond.

"We thought it'd be a neat way to challenge brains and get people involved with the seniors," Schmidt said. "It's neat to see so many people here we haven't seen before."

The event also raised some funds, but those will be used to help jump-start the 2012 Com­munity Spelling Bee, which Schmidt said is likely to occur, after the success of Saturday.

At least the spellers were ready to get studying for next year: Flanery said she planned to download a word guide to help her prepare.

"By next year, they're all going to have the whole dictionary memorized," Schmidt said.

In each round, master of ceremonies Michael David handed the microphone to a speller from each team, who awaited the word from bee-master Fran Conlon, charged with pronouncing words including "effleurage," "ecclesiastical," and "agnosticism."

But as Flanery said, it wasn't the words with the most syllables that caused the most problems.

"Bullion" took out four groups, and "dilettante" took out three before anyone could spell the words correctly.

It took 25 rounds to narrow it down to the champion, the 3 No Trump team.

The three women, whose team is named after a bridge move, each had hats decorated with card suits — and they had impeccable spelling skills.

Lane Schrock, Pauline Bouchard and Penny Deihl together correctly spelled obscure words such as "jerkin," "grosgrain" and "jocose."

When it came down to the final two teams — 3 No Trump and Steamboat Art Museum Spellers — it was "kamikaze" that separated first and second place in the 25th round. The SAM Spellers thought it ended with an "i."

"We were delighted and surprised," Deihl said about the win.

Schrock, the team captain, said the spelling bee was a great way to spend the snowy afternoon.

The women didn't hesitate to confirm their participation in next year's event.

"We've got to defend our title," Bouchard said.

Community Spelling Bee results

First place: 3 No Trump

Second place: Steamboat Art Museum Spellers

Third place: Go Alpine

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