John F. Russell: An indelible Stamp | SteamboatToday.com

John F. Russell: An indelible Stamp

The vision of a young, determined ski racer making her way around a gate at high speeds is the way many people in Steamboat Springs remember Ashley Stamp.

The vision took a physical form Tuesday when Ashley’s family unveiled a bronze trophy during the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s awards ceremony.

The memorial will be awarded once a year to a female ski racer who represents the values that Ashley would have admired.

This year, Maria Hillen–brand had her name engraved on the trophy honoring the the 13-year-old skier.

Ashley died in December 2004 while preparing for a race at the Gold Peak Race Area in Vail.

The trophy, which is a nearly identical replica of a life-sized statue that stands near the parking lot at Howelsen Hill, projects Stamp’s fierce racing style, and the award will promote the characteristics she valued.

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It’s a fitting tribute to the skier who touched so many lives in Steamboat, who always displayed her love of skiing with a positive attitude and energetic approach.

I knew Stamp as a racer — not that different from the other athletes I write about.

But it makes me happy to see the Winter Sports Club set her apart, and I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute than handing out an award each year inside the halls of Howelsen, where she spent much of her young life.

But Stamp was more than just another ski racer. She was a friend, a sister and a daughter. She was an important part of our community.

In the past two ski seasons, I have witnessed a less obvious but more powerful tribute. It isn’t displayed as prominently as a statue, but it appears in the form of orange ribbons pinned to ski jackets and attached to helmets.

At times, this tribute appears as part of a classmate’s project, a simple orange band on a young skier’s wrist or in notes posted on the wall outside the offices of the Winter Sports Club.

For some, these displays are a way of dealing with the pain of losing a friend or teammate too soon. For others, it’s a way of paying tribute to a person they admired.

It shows me that Stamp touched more people in her 13 years than some of us will touch in our lifetimes.

It’s great to see her legacy displayed in grand tributes like the statue at Howelsen, but it’s the smaller ones that will preserve her memory.

In a perfect world, I would be writing about Stamp receiving a sports club award this week, not being memorialized by one.

This year, the Winter Sports Club recognized dozens of people who made valuable contributions. And the trophies are nice. But it’s hard for them to match the power of those simple orange ribbons. They’re the perfect tribute to a little ski racer who made us all proud.