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Olympic triumphs and memories highlight 2010 in Routt County

The U.S. Nordic combined team of, from left, Brett Camerota, Todd Lodwick, Johnny Spillane and Billy Demong celebrates after winning the silver medal in the team event Feb. 23 at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
John F. Russell

Top online stories of 2010

Analytics for http://www.steamboatpilot.com showed that in 2010, as in 2009, the news that drew the most attention in Routt County and beyond was tragedy and trauma related to our friends, neighbors and loved ones, and even to strangers, whose distant relation to the community did not diminish the compassion of readers. Also grabbing attention this year were some lighter-hearted, unusual stories — see Nos. 8 and 9 — the city’s vote on Steamboat 700 and late-night election drama in the hotly contested race for Routt County sheriff.

The headlines overflowed a top 10 list, so here’s a look at the top 12 stories, by number of online pageviews, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 20, 2010.

  1. FBI: Steamboat businessman Brooks Kellogg sought hit,” Oct. 21; 12,176 pageviews
  2. Woman dies at Steamboat Ski Area,” Jan. 6; 11,010 pageviews
  3. Gruben had a ‘passion for life,’” Feb. 15; 9,398 pageviews
  4. 2 men receive skin grafts after explosion,” Aug. 30; 9,362 pageviews
  5. Police: Steamboat man shot wife, self,” June 11; 8,836 pageviews
  6. Wreck kills one on U.S. 40 west of Steamboat,” Feb. 13; 8,475 pageviews
  7. Woman killed when boulder hits car near Mount Harris,” March 10; 8,044 pageviews
  8. Local marijuana strain takes top honors at Cannabis Crown,” April 19; 7,494 pageviews
  9. Bear sneaks into Steamboat home,” June 9; 7,110 pageviews
  10. Bank files for foreclosure on One Steamboat Place,” Nov. 17; 6,455 pageviews
  11. Steamboat says ‘no’ to Steam­boat 700,” March 9; 6,308 pageviews
  12. Wiggins wins Routt County sheriff race,” Nov. 2; 6,271 pageviews

Top online stories of 2010

Analytics for http://www.steamboatpilot.com showed that in 2010, as in 2009, the news that drew the most attention in Routt County and beyond was tragedy and trauma related to our friends, neighbors and loved ones, and even to strangers, whose distant relation to the community did not diminish the compassion of readers. Also grabbing attention this year were some lighter-hearted, unusual stories — see Nos. 8 and 9 — the city’s vote on Steamboat 700 and late-night election drama in the hotly contested race for Routt County sheriff.

The headlines overflowed a top 10 list, so here’s a look at the top 12 stories, by number of online pageviews, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 20, 2010.

  1. FBI: Steamboat businessman Brooks Kellogg sought hit,” Oct. 21; 12,176 pageviews
  2. Woman dies at Steamboat Ski Area,” Jan. 6; 11,010 pageviews
  3. Gruben had a ‘passion for life,’” Feb. 15; 9,398 pageviews
  4. 2 men receive skin grafts after explosion,” Aug. 30; 9,362 pageviews
  5. Police: Steamboat man shot wife, self,” June 11; 8,836 pageviews
  6. Wreck kills one on U.S. 40 west of Steamboat,” Feb. 13; 8,475 pageviews
  7. Woman killed when boulder hits car near Mount Harris,” March 10; 8,044 pageviews
  8. Local marijuana strain takes top honors at Cannabis Crown,” April 19; 7,494 pageviews
  9. Bear sneaks into Steamboat home,” June 9; 7,110 pageviews
  10. Bank files for foreclosure on One Steamboat Place,” Nov. 17; 6,455 pageviews
  11. Steamboat says ‘no’ to Steam­boat 700,” March 9; 6,308 pageviews
  12. Wiggins wins Routt County sheriff race,” Nov. 2; 6,271 pageviews

— The cowbells still might be echoing in Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill.



And the shine still sparkles on the heavy hardware local athletes brought home from Vancouver, British Columbia.

It’s fair to guess that nearly every Steamboat Springs resident has a lasting memory related to the 2010 Winter Olympics, an event that arguably left greater marks on the Yampa Valley than any other this year.



“So many events during that rang true with what a community this is,” Steamboat Springs City Councilman Kenny Reisman said about the weeks leading to, including and following this year’s Olympic Games, which saw the history-making success of a U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team that featured Steamboat’s own Taylor Fletcher, Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane, along with Steamboat-trained Billy Demong and Brett Camerota, of Park City, Utah.

Steamboat celebrated the Olympics for two months, from the Feb. 5 Olympic Send-Off & Community Celebration that brought thousands to a closed-off Lincoln Avenue, to the April 2 Hometown Heroes Celebration that created lines down the Howelsen Lodge stairway as throngs young and old waited for a chance to meet a medalist in Olympian Hall.

As Reisman noted, the 2010 Winter Olympics brought out the best in the community during a year marked by ups and downs on many fronts. Routt County’s 2010 included continuing economic struggles marked by persistent unemployment; a tumultuous election season, featuring a race for Routt County sheriff with the same candidates but a different result from four years ago, as Republican Garrett Wiggins turned the tables and defeated Democrat Gary Wall; and passionate local campaigns for and against the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation, which city voters resoundingly rejected in March, making a strong statement about how Steamboat grows — or doesn’t — in years to come.

The year also included successful negotiations for a sweeping-but-costly land purchase on Emerald Mountain, which will secure permanent public access to one of the most beautiful recreation areas in Steamboat, at a city price tag of about $1.3 million that follows lay-offs of seven city employees in October; countywide debates about how to regulate the booming growth of medical marijuana dispensaries; and increasing efforts to add the title of Bike Town USA to Ski Town USA, highlighted by a Ride 4 Yellow cycling event that brought Lance Armstrong to Routt County and raised thousands for cancer research; and so much more.

It was quite a year in the valley.

‘So thankful’

Spillane brought home three silver medals, taking second in the normal and large hill individual Gundersen events, Feb. 14 and Feb. 25, and in the thrilling team event Feb. 23. That race was decided in the last kilometer and included huge efforts from Demong, Lodwick and Camerota, along with Spillane.

Reisman remembered “wat­­ching the team race in Oly­­mpian Hall and feeling that building shake” as an overflowing crowd — and much of Steamboat — lived and died with racers’ every stride.

The Nordic combined success, and this year’s prominence of all past and present Olympic athletes with Steamboat ties, inspired yearlong city efforts to capitalize on the spotlight shining on Howelsen Hill. This month, Great Outdoors Colorado gave final approval to $900,000 in grants that, with other city and private fundraising efforts, will fund improvements to Howelsen’s facilities. Those improvements will ensure the continuation of Howelsen’s tradition for future generations of young skiers and snowboarders and for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Many local youths got a glimpse of that tradition at the Feb. 5 Olympic Send-Off, when athletes took the stage on Lincoln Avenue in front of crowds whose cheers cut through the cold night air.

“Mark (Hermacinski) and I looked at each other during that event and said, ‘This is the best place on the planet to raise kids,’ and we were so thankful,” City Council President Cari Her­­­macinski said about attending the event with her husband and children.

A year to rebound?

Hermacinski said last week that her business, building wireless cell phone sites, is picking up on the East Coast. With the often-discussed Steamboat Springs “lag” in relation to economic trends — many think the city felt the recession’s impacts later than other areas and will recover from them later — she said that could be an indicator of a local economic rebound in 2011.

Sarah Fox, vice president of Fox Construction, also said economic signs are pointing upward. She said local architects and Realtors “are starting to get busier,” in her experience, meaning new construction projects could be on the horizon.

“It’s not busy, but it’s picking up for sure,” Fox said about business for local construction-related industries.

But Scott Ford, director of the Routt County Economic Dev­elopment Cooperative, wasn’t so sure last week of a rebound in 2011. He cited gloomy indicators from local economic development studies.

“There’s nothing in there that says we’re going to see a real turnaround,” he said. “Unemployment is going to continue to cause some stress in the overall county.”

Heart and home

Nancy Spillane, mother of Johnny, Katie and Sam, chatted last week about goings on with the entire Spillane family and talked about the importance of things close to the heart and home. She welcomed a granddaughter into the world this year, when Johnny’s wife, Hilary, gave birth to Hadley on Aug. 15.

Nancy Spillane said her family’s Christmas newsletter to friends and loved ones talked about the “silver lining” of 2010.

“We’ve counted our blessings many times this year,” she said. “Everybody’s healthy and thriving. … Beyond economics, that’s way more important than how much money you have in the bank, that’s for sure.”


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