Winter Carnival grand marshals are longtime quiet supporters of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club | SteamboatToday.com

Winter Carnival grand marshals are longtime quiet supporters of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

Joe and Sara Bishop, who have helped some of Steamboat Springs' most outstanding skiers realize their Olympic dreams, are the grand marshals of the 2018 Winter Carnival Parade.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The grand marshals of the 2018 Winter Carnival Parade are year-around residents of Steamboat Springs who have quietly supported the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in practical ways, as well as furthering the dreams of  homegrown athletes aspiring to the Winter Olympics.

Joe and Sara Bishop will be watching with great excitement Feb. 11 when the top-ranked freestyle mogul skier in the world, Jaelin Kauf of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, steps into the starting gate in Pyeongchang, South Korea, bidding for an Olympic medal.

"When Jaelin came the first time to see us as a young girl, she was so shy, it was a struggle for her to talk to us and visit with us," Sara recalled. "Now, she's very confident. She knows what she wants, and she's a hard worker. She puts the hours in."

The Bishops, it happened, were looking for another aspiring Olympian to sponsor after the retirement of Olympic Nordic combined medalist Johnny Spillane, who they helped with travel and training expenses for 13 years.

One of Joe’s proudest possessions? It's a pair of Spillane’s skis, used in a competition in Austria.

"Joe and Sara are supporters of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club over many years," Jim Boyne, the club's executive director, said. "Both are instrumental in meeting the current needs of athletes and programs and in supporting the foundation endowment for the future."

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Kauf shows her appreciation for the Bishops’ unwavering support by sending them pictures of herself from freestyle skiing venues all over the world.

Joe quipped that earlier in her career all of the pictures were of her "upside down" in the midst of an aerial maneuver on a World Cup mogul run. Now that she's a fixture on the award podium, she's right-side-up in all of the photos.

The Bishops know firsthand the positive influence the coaches and program directors at the Winter Sports Cub can have on emerging adults.

"That's why I moved here, so the boys (the Bishop's sons Hunter and Phillip, now 27 and 26) could train in the club's Alpine program," Sara said.

Their own sons moved on to other interests, but the Bishops remain devoted to the club's mission.

While Hunter and Phillip were competing, Joe began to make modest purchases for the club  – portable drills for setting slalom poles in the snow, the slalom poles themselves and video cameras, to help the athletes  focus on technique adjustments.

From there, the Bishops supported bigger causes at the club.

When Boyne reached out to Joe to seek help upgrading the club's aging fleet of people-mover vans as part of its transportation safety initiative, Joe stepped up and purchased four brand new vans to keep the club’s precious cargo safe. The new vans are reassuring to club officials and parents alike, as young coaches head out from Howelsen Hill  with their athletes to cross mountain passes in winter weather on the way to competitions.

The Bishops will not only lead Sunday’s Diamond Hitch Parade but they’ll also be recognized during Winter Carnival’s Opening Ceremonies at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7 at Olympian Hall.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.