Keeping the spirit alive | SteamboatToday.com

Keeping the spirit alive

Strawberry Park's quadathlon steeped in snow sport traditions

Mike McCollum

Steamboat Springs — Strawberry Park Elementary School physical education teacher Sam Rush put her students through a gauntlet of winter sports activities during the past two weeks in an effort to keep the spirit of Ski Town USA alive. — Strawberry Park Elementary School physical education teacher Sam Rush put her students through a gauntlet of winter sports activities during the past two weeks in an effort to keep the spirit of Ski Town USA alive.

— Strawberry Park Elementary School physical education teacher Sam Rush put her students through a gauntlet of winter sports activities during the past two weeks in an effort to keep the spirit of Ski Town USA alive.

In the field adjacent to Strawberry Park, in the shadow of the historical Fly Gulch schoolhouse, Rush’s first- through fifth-grade students learned the intricacies of cross country skiing.

“These kids need to feel the legacy of skiing in Steamboat Springs,” Rush said. “Students used to ski to this schoolhouse every day, sometimes up to eight miles.”

During the past two weeks, the students have endured nasty winds, icy conditions, unpacked trails and sub-zero temperatures. Rush said the students rolled with every punch Mother Nature had to offer.

“Our cutoff is zero degrees, but I asked if they wanted to go in(side), and they said they were having too much fun,” she said.

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On Thursday, Rush’s fifth-grade students participated in the school’s inaugural quadathlon, a competition testing their snowshoeing, sledding, skate skiing and classic skiing prowess.

The students divided themselves into mixed-gender teams of four, and each team member competed in one of the four athletic events.

At the blow of Rush’s whistle, seven cross country skiers took off around the oval of packed powder. The competitors navigated through two “towers of death” – made of PVC pipes – before tagging in their snowshoe-wearing teammates.

The snowshoers sprinted about 100 yards, mostly uphill toward Amethyst Drive. Once their lap was complete, they tagged in their sledding teammates, who sledded about 50 yards down a large hill before tagging in the classic skiers.

The classic skiers brought the race back to the oval, with the towers of death. When the powder settled and the heaves of cold air ceased, the team of Nathan DePuy, Will Petersen, Caroline Wilson and Olivia Williams was the victor.

“This was my first year skate skiing, but I took to it really fast,” Nathan said. “It’s been a fun two weeks. I had a blast.”

With the snow-capped mountain peaks towering nearby, Rush said students in Steamboat Springs may have ample opportunities to enjoy winter sports, but she wanted to ensure that no student ever lets those opportunities slip by.

“I mean, look around; we live in a beautiful place,” she said. “Who wouldn’t want to be a student here?”