Olympian Celebration and Send-Off planned at Steamboat Ski Area | SteamboatToday.com

Olympian Celebration and Send-Off planned at Steamboat Ski Area

Michael Schrantz

— The town that boasts more winter Olympians than anywhere else in North America will gather Jan. 25 to send off the latest group headed to Sochi, Russia, and to honor the club that has launched many of their careers.

The 2014 Olympian Celebration and Send-Off will start at 4 p.m. at Gondola Square at the base of Steamboat Ski Area and incorporate tributes marking the 100th anniversary of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

"It's not one entity or organization, but the entire community that openly embraces these athletes and plays a key role in establishing the core foundation for Steamboat," Rob Perlman, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said in a news release. "The Olympian Celebration and Send-Off is a way for the entire community to come together to celebrate the spirit of competition and all that these athletes have accomplished."

The Steamboat Springs High School Skiing Band, famous for its Winter Carnival performances, won't be on skis itself but will provide the music for a flag presentation on the snow before past Steamboat Olympians and those headed to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, take the stage.

A meet-and-greet will provide an opportunity for photos and autographs with the athletes, according to a news release, and the 2014 U.S. Olympic Mogul Team will be finishing up its preparations on Voo Doo. The send-off also will include a SSWSC athlete exhibition and a large birthday cake in honor of the club’s centennial.

The event's finale will feature fireworks and the lighting of the 15-foot-tall "community cauldron," which will burn throughout the Olympic games.

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"Steamboat has a rich tradition in the snow sports disciplines — Alpine skiing, Nordic, Nordic combined, special jumping, freestyle, freeskiing, telemark and snowboarding (alpine and parks and pipes) — and an Olympic heritage that dates back nearly a century," Jim Boyne, executive director of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, said in a news release.

"The spirit to strive for greatness and the unwavering community support of athletes of all ability levels, motivating them to fulfill their dreams in both sports and in life, whether that's just getting started in winter sports or competing on the international stage, is truly what makes this community unique and sets Steamboat apart from any other place in the world," Boyne added.

Steamboat has held send-off celebrations for winter Olympians in 2002, 2006 and 2010. The previous events were held in the downtown area, and an estimated 10,000 people showed up in 2006 and 2010. The 2010 event was expected to cost about $50,000. No cost estimate was available for this year’s celebration.

Organizing the event has been a community-wide effort with multiple Steamboat organizations pitching in, Loryn Kasten, spokeswoman for Ski Corp., said.

"We're proud to be sending Steamboat's hometown athletes off to compete on the world stage and want to wish them well with a celebration to remember," Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Tom Kern said. "The Olympic Send-Off is a chance for the entire community to come together in support of not only the athletes, but the heritage and spirit that makes Steamboat Springs so special to visitors and residents alike."

Steamboat Springs has produced a record 79 winter Olympians. These athletes have made over 135 Olympic appearances during 18 Winter Games.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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