Inside the Olympics: What’s it like in the gate? | SteamboatToday.com

Inside the Olympics: What’s it like in the gate?

Billy Kidd, Steamboat's Director of Skiing and Olympic Medalist, still enjoys a day of first tracks in Steamboat's legendary Champagne Powder¨ snow. Kidd was the first American man to win an Olympic medal in skiing, a silver, at the 1964 Games in Innsbruck, Austria. Kidd has called Steamboat Springs home since 1970. Photo/Larry Pierce

What's it like to stand in the starting gate of an Olympic Alpine skiing event?

Just ask Steamboat Ski Area's Director of Skiing Billy Kidd, who, along with Jimmie Heuga, became America's first men to ever win Olympic medals in Alpine skiing, earning the slalom silver and bronze, respectfully, in the 1964 Innsbruck Games.

"To step into the starting gate for your first-ever Olympic event, which for me was the downhill, is pretty harrowing," Kidd says. "You have to handle your nerves. You don't go when you want to; you go when the starter says to. When he said 'Sixty seconds,' my knees got weak. Back then there weren't any fences to keep racers out of the trees, and an Australian skier had died on the course just four days before. I couldn't breathe and thought I'd fall down right there in the starting gate. My nerves got the better of me, and I almost crashed just 15 seconds into the course. I ended up about 15th. But then, 10 days later for the slalom event, I got control of them. I went from being a nervous wreck to settling down, and I ended up winning the silver."