Olympic excitement builds in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Olympic excitement builds in Steamboat

Steamboat prepares to watch its athletes on the world stage

The view of Vancouver, British Columbia, on Thursday from the highway leading to Whistler. Vancouver will host the opening ceremonies today for the 2010 Olympic Games at BC Place, a 60,000-seat indoor venue.

Rick DeVos says the days leading up to the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, have been a mixture of excitement and nerves inside the walls of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

"We are all very excited right now," said DeVos, the club's executive director. But there is also a nervousness before the Olympics. "Anything can happen on any given day. I wish all the athletes the best, but we also know that there is nothing certain in sports."

The one thing DeVos is certain about is that he plans to spend a lot of time near a television for the next few weeks so he can keep tabs on all athletes with ties to the Winter Sports Club. He says the televisions inside buildings at Howelsen Hill have been connected to a satellite and will carry coverage of the Olympics each day, starting with tonight's opening ceremonies.

Todd Wilson, the Winter Sports Club's Nordic program director, said the opening ceremonies will be the main attraction on the flat-panel television sets inside Olympian Hall during a dinner and awards presentation for a Junior Olympic qualifying event today.

Wilson said he hopes to tie this weekend's Junior Olympic events in with the Vancouver events. He wants to share tonight's opening ceremonies with the young athletes from Steamboat; Park City, Utah; and Aspen who are in town for the jump meet. He hopes to use the same formula for Sunday's Nordic combined Olympic opener.

Many of those athletes will be cheering for the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, which includes local favorites Todd Lodwick, Johnny Spillane and Taylor Fletcher. Billy Demong and Brett Camerota also have trained with the Winter Sports Club. The team is scheduled to compete in the first individual event Sunday. The team event is set for Feb. 23, and the final individual event is scheduled for Feb. 25 at Whistler Olympic Park.

Recommended Stories For You

The team's promise has the staff, coaches and athletes at the Winter Sports Club bouncing off the walls with excitement. But DeVos said there is also a hidden tension because he understands that the Olympics are unpredictable.

"You just never know what's going to happen," DeVos said. "I think we are all ready to get going. But no matter what happens, we are proud of our athletes and what they have accomplished."

Wilson said he hopes to watch many of the events with the young skiers he coaches. He said it's a chance to see how top athletes react to different situations and how they handle themselves once they step into the spotlight.

He hopes his athletes will watch the events unfold and come away with a better un­­derstanding and a new sense of purpose.

"The Olympics are a nice boost in the middle of the season," Wilson said. "The excitement level is huge. This is a great reminder that all the work we do around here is worth it."

Steamboat athletes will compete in Nordic combined, moguls, aerials, snowboard cross and parallel giant slalom events at the Vancouver Olympics.

"This is a chance to celebrate the pinnacle of athletic achievement," DeVos said. "We don't have any formal plans for public viewing parties, but you can bet that we will all be in front of the televisions watching our athletes."

Wilson plans to keep busy coaching and preparing for the upcoming Junior Olympic Championships and NCAA Championships, which will take place in March in Steamboat, but he is fully aware of when the Nordic combined skiers are scheduled to compete.

"No, I didn't pencil it in," Wilson said. "I used a Sharpie."

Events featuring Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes

■ Nordic combined — Sunday and Feb. 23 and Feb. 25

(Todd Lodwick, Johnny Spillane, Billy Demong, Taylor Fletcher, Brett Camerota)

■ Women’s moguls — Saturday

(Ellie Koyander)

■ Men’s moguls — Sunday

(Pat Deneen, Mike Morse)

■ Women’s snowboarder cross — Tuesday

(Callan Chythlook-Sifsof)

■ Women’s aerials — Feb. 20 and Feb. 24

(Jana Lindsey)

■ Men’s aerials — Feb.22 and Feb. 25

(Ryan St. Onge)

■ Women’s snowboarding PGS — Feb. 26

(Johanna Shaw, Kimiko Zakreski, Caroline Calve, Michelle Gorgone)

■ Men’s snowboarding PGS — Feb. 27

(Tyler Jewell, Adam McLeish)