Olympians to recount past games in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Olympians to recount past games in Steamboat

Athletes will answer questions at event

Zach Fridell

— With the attention of Steam­boat Springs residents firmly fixed on Vancouver, British Columbia, the memories come pouring back to those residents who have experienced the Winter Oly­mpics themselves.

Gary Cra­wford, a U.S. Nordic combined skier in the 1980 and 1988 games, said the Olympics bring back memories of racing and family.

"Every time the Olympics come along, it's definitely a walk down memory lane," he said Monday. "For me, my big Olympics were 30 years ago this month."

Crawford is in good company in Steamboat Springs, and local historians are hoping to use the current Olympics as a chance for eight former Olympians to share their memories.

From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Tread of Pioneers Museum will sponsor "The Olympic Experience" discussion with former athletes at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

Museum director Candice Bannister said the informal question-and-answer session is a way to hear the experiences of residents who have competed in the Olympics and traveled the world as athletes.

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"We have such a strong Olympic heritage here in this town and a lot of people get to know these Olympians through their accomplishments competing, but we know there are a lot of great stories there, too," Bannister said.

The eight athletes scheduled to participate represent a wide range of years and event disciplines. The athletes are: Jim "Moose" Barrows, 1968, Alpine; Bobby Aldighieri, 1992, freestyle skiing; Brendan Doran, 1998, 2002, ski jumping; Nelson Carmichael, 1988, 1992, freestyle skiing; Chris McNeil, 1976, 1980, ski jumping; Linas Vaitkus, 1998, Alpine; Deb Armstrong, 1984, 1988, Alpine; and Caroline Lalive, 1998, 2002, Alpine.

Bannister said the Olympics also bring back memories of the town as it was in the past games.

"Nelson Carmichael was the first Steamboat Springs person to medal in the Olympics," Bannister said. "The feeling everybody has with Johnny Spillane right now, the community had when Nelson Carmichael did what he did."

Carmichael said the Olympics bring back memories for him, too, watching the opening ceremonies and today's crop of mogul skiers.

"It seems like another life ago sometimes," he said.

If you go

What: “The Olympic Experience,”

a discussion with former Steamboat Springs Olympians

When: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center.

More: The athletes scheduled to participate are Jim “Moose” Barrows, 1968, Alpine (Grenoble); Bobby Aldighieri, 1992, freestyle moguls (Albertville); Brendan Doran, 1998, 2002, ski jumping (Nagano, Salt Lake City); Nelson Carmichael, 1988, 1992, freestyle (Calgary, Albertville); Chris McNeil, 1976, 1980, ski jumping (Innsbruck, Lake Placid); Linas Vaitkus, 1998, Alpine (Nagano); Deb Armstrong, 1984, 1988, Alpine (Sarajevo, Calgary); and Caroline Lalive, 1998, 2002, Alpine (Nagano, Salt Lake City).

The Olympians will answer questions and participate in a discussion about their memories and experiences from the Olympics and other competitions.

Fond memories

Gary Crawford, a Nordic combined athlete at the 1980 and 1988 Winter Olympic Games, said one of his favorite memories came during the opening ceremonies at Lake Placid in 1980. Crawford’s family had a special “family whistle” they would use in Steamboat to let the kids know when to come home for dinner. As he entered the opening ceremonies, Crawford saw that all the faces in the crowd looked the same. But as he made the third turn before walking to the stage, he heard the family whistle ring out, and he looked up into the stands to see his parents, about 30 rows back.

“I was able to look up and pick my parents out of the crowd immediately,” he said. “That was a pretty special moment to be able to look up in a crowd of 40,000 people and be able to pick my parents out.”