Olympics appearances provide lasting memories | SteamboatToday.com

Olympics appearances provide lasting memories

Steamboat has been home to many Olympic athletes and coaches throughout the decades. Pictured in front row, from left, are Carl Van Loan, Dave Jarrett, Loris Werner, Caroline Lalive, Jorge Torrella, Sven Wiik, Tom Steitz and Jim "Moose'" Barrows; middle row, from left, are Park Smalley, Chris Puckett, Kris "Fuzz" Feddersen, Billy Kidd, Jack Miller, Jeff Good, Todd Lodwick, Erin Simmons, Randy Weber, Billy Demong and Tim Tetreault; and back row, from left, are Thedo Remmelink, Bobby Aldighieri, Travis Mayer, Tommy Schwall, Johnny Spillane, Chad Fleischer, Craig Thrasher, Clint Jones, Ann Battelle, Gary Crawford, Brendan Doran, Martin Bayer, Kerry Lynch and Todd Wilson.

Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane will take Steamboat Springs' Western Heritage to the Olympic stage once again in 2010. The pair, along with Billy Demong, Taylor Fletcher and Brett Camerota, will fuel the powerful U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team's drive for the United States' first Olympic medal in the sport of Nordic combined. The pair recently posed for a photograph in front of the iconic More Barn. Clothing was provided by another Steamboat Springs icon, F.M.Light & Sons. John F. Russell

— When Nordic combined skier Gary Crawford first walked into the stadium in Lake Placid, N.Y., for the opening ceremonies of the 1980 Olympics, he lost himself in a flood of emotion.

Surrounded by more than 40,000 cheering fans — many holding banners and waving flags — Crawford made his way along the predetermined parade route inside the stadium with his American teammates. It was there that he first realized he had stepped onto the stage of one of the biggest events in all of sports.

It finally hit that he was an Olympian.

"I'll never forget it," said Crawford, a Steamboat Springs resident. "I think it was special because the Olympics were here (in the United States) and, for me, it was a family affair. My father announced my events and my brother, Greg, was a forejumper."

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Crawford said there were so many people at the event that it was hard to focus on any one person, but as he made his way around the arena for the second time — taking in the colors, sounds and excitement — he could hear a familiar sound coming from the stands.

"I had grown up with a special whistle that my dad would use to call us home … when we would hear it, no matter where we were, we knew it was time to get home," he said. "I heard that whistle, and I knew exactly where to find my family. It was really neat to hear that whistle at the Olympics."

Four days later, Crawford finished 28th in the Nordic combined event (in 1980, there was only one event for Nordic combined athletes) and added his name to the long list of Olympians, including his father Marvin (Cortina, Italy, 1956), who call Steamboat Springs home.

Crawford missed the 1984 games, but returned to the Olympic spotlight at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, after teammate Kerry Lynch talked him into rejoining the team. Crawford broke his neck in January 1987 after a freak fall while landing a jump. He recovered in time to qualify for the 1988 Olympics but said he was never able to mentally overcome the fall.

"I jumped safe in Calgary," Crawford said. "I ran well in the cross-country race, but you can't play it safe when you are competing at the Olympics."

Crawford traveled to Sap­poro, Japan, for one more competition that year before he retired. He says he never lost his passion for skiing or the Olympics.

Today, he works as a volunteer coach with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's Nordic program alongside fellow past Olympians Todd Wilson, Kerry Lynch and Martin Bayer. Lynch competed with Crawford at the 1980 Olympics. He finished 18th in the event that year and 13th four years later when the Olympics took place in Sarajevo, Bosnia. He also remembers the opening ceremonies in Lake Placid warmly.

"I had goose bumps for an hour after the opening ceremonies," Lynch said. "It's a really special moment in time. … You never know what is going to happen or if you will ever experience that again."

Lynch did get another shot in 1984, but he said the magic created by the 1980 Olympics was not present when Sarajevo, which was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia at the time, hosted the Olympics.

"I remember there were soldiers everywhere I looked, and at the time, we all realized that we were not in Kansas anymore," Lynch recalls. "There were hardly any people in the stands for opening ceremonies — maybe 10,000."

Lynch and Wilson are just a couple of the Winter Sports Club coaches who were drawn to Ski Town USA after they retired and have since become a part of our town's rich Olympic tradition.

"We know what the Olympics have done for us," Lynch said. "I think we are all proud to have been Olympic athletes, and we are lucky to have an opportunity to pass that onto the young athletes who are coming up in Steamboat Springs."

Bringing home hardware

In 1992, Steamboat Springs freestyle skier Nelson Carmichael waited at the top of the moguls course in Tignes, France, sitting on the threshold of skiing history for Steamboat Springs.

Carmichael, who cut his teeth in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's freestyle programs, insists he wasn't thinking about becoming the first skier from Steamboat Springs to bring home a medal. To tell the truth, there was just one thing Carmichael was thinking about as he made his way down the course.

"All I kept thinking was, 'Don't mess up,'" he recalled this winter.

Carmichael had qualified fourth and knew he was going to need a solid run to move up to the podium. He flew through the bumps at a blistering pace and landed a 360 on the top air and a twister-spread on the bottom air.

By today's standards, the jumps weren't much to look at, but Carmichael and the other skiers didn't have the kickers or landings that are in place on modern moguls courses. It was the first year the sport was labeled full-medal. At the 1988 games, freestyle skiing was a demonstration sport.

Carmichael said he made a few minor mistakes on the way down but that when it was finished, the Steamboat skier had earned the right to stand on the podium. France's Edgar Grospiron won gold, and teammate Olivier Allamand took silver. Carmichael held on for third and the bronze medal.

"I don't know that I added that much to Steamboat's skiing heritage," Carmichael said. "It started so long ago and is so entrenched in the community. It goes back to our Nordic roots and to the first Alpine ski racers, and it just keeps growing and growing."

Carmichael may have been the first Steamboat athlete to bring home a medal, but he's not alone. Shannon Dunn added another bronze to the mix by taking third in the women's halfpipe in Sapporo, Japan, at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games.

Carmichael and Dunn may not have realized it at the time, but their medal performances inspired a new generation of skiers across the country and, more important, at Howelsen Hill.

Ten years after Carmichael's bronze-medal run, one of those athletes — freestyle skier Travis Mayer — upped the ante when he won silver in men's moguls at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. But like Carmichael before him, Mayer is humble about his contributions to Steamboat's skiing heritage.

"I think Howelsen Hill and the Winter Sports Club are essential to Steamboat Springs' Olympic heritage," Mayer said. "Steamboat loves to celebrate its past and the athletes who have been a part of that past. I think that's one of the things that makes it such a great place."

Mayer, who graduated from The Lowell Whiteman School, said he's not sure he would have earned the medal if he had not come to Steamboat Springs and the Winter Sports Club. He said his coaches at the Winter Sports Club, including former Olympic skier Bobby Aldighieri, and the support of the community were the keys to his success.

Steamboat's winter Olympians

In celebration of the Olympics, the Pilot & Today compiled a list of all winter Olympians with connections to Steamboat Springs.

The resources for compiling this list were the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the Tread of Pioneers Museum. The list includes Olympians who grew up here, Olympians who trained here, Olympians who moved here and Olympians from other countries who trained or lived here.

The Olympians are listed alphabetically with the years they competed and the events in which they competed. The names of athletes competing in the 2010 Winter Olympics are bold.

■ Alan Alborn, 1998, 2002, 2006 ski jumping. (Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin)

■ Bobby Aldighieri, 1992, freestyle moguls. (Albertville)

■ Deb Armstrong, 1984, 1988, Alpine, (Sarajevo, Calgary)

■ Jim "Moose" Barrows, 1968, Alpine. (Grenoble)

■ Ann Battelle, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, freestyle. (Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City)

■ Manuela Berchtold, 2002, 2006, freestyle moguls. (Salt Lake City, Turin)

■ Martin Bayer, 1992, 1994, Nordic combined. (Albertville, Lillehammer)

■ Scott Berry, 1972, ski jumping. (Sapporo)

■ Philippe Berube, 2006, snowboarding. (Turin)

■ Jan Bucher, 1988, freestyle Ballet. (Calgary)

■ Caroline Calve, 2010, Alpine snowboarding. (Vancouver)

■ Brett Camerota, 2006, 2010, Nordic combined. (Turin, Vancouver)

■ Eric Camerota, 2006, Nordic combined. (Turin)

■ Van Card, 1964, ski jumping. (Innsbruck)

■ Nelson Carmichael, 1988, 1992, freestyle. (Calgary, Albertville)

■ Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, 2010, boarder cross. (Vancouver)

■ Nick Cleaver, 1992, 1994 freestyle. (Albertville, Lillehammer)

■ Gary Crawford, 1980, 1988, Nordic combined. (Lake Placid, Calgary)

■ Marvin Crawford, 1952, 1956, ski jumping, Nordic combined. (Oslo, Cortina d'Ampezzo)

■ Jeff Davis, 1980, ski jumping. (Lake Placid)

■ Matt Dayton, 2002, Nordic combined. (Salt Lake City)

■ Billy Demong, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, Nordic combined. (Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin, Vancouver)

■ Maria Despas St. Pierre (Australia), 2002, freestyle. (Salt Lake City)

■ Brendan Doran, 1998, 2002, ski jumping. (Nagano, Salt Lake City)

■ Shannon Dunn, 1998, 2002, snowboarding. (Nagano, Salt Lake City)

■ Tarsha Ebben (Australia), 1998, freestyle. (Nagano)

■ Jere Elliot, 1968, Alpine. (Grenoble)

■ Jon Elliot, 1960, ski jumping. (Squaw Valley)

■ Kris Erichsen, 1998, 2002, Nordic combined. (Nagano, Salt Lake City)

■ Ted Farwell, 1952, 1956, 1960, Nordic combined. (Oslo, Cortina d'Ampezzo)

■ Kris Feddersen, 1988, 1992, 1994, freestyle aerials. (Calgary, Albertville, Lillehammer)

■ Chad Fleischer, 1994, 1998. (Lillehammer, Nagano)

■ Taylor Fletcher, 2010, Nordic combined. (Vancouver)

■ Kylie Gill, 1992,1998, freestyle moguls. (Albertville, Nagano)

■ Michelle Gorgone, 2006, 2010, snowboarding. (Turin, Vancouver)

■ Sacha Gros, 1998, Alpine. (Nagano)

■ Matt Grosjean, 1992, 1994, 1998, Alpine. (Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano)

■ Ryan Heckman, 1992, 1994, Nordic combined. (Albertville, Lillehammer)

■ Corky Heid, 1956, ski jumping. (Cortina d'Ampezzo)

■ Ray Heid, 1960, ski jumping. (Squaw Valley)

■ Jed Hinkley, 2002, Nordic combined. (Salt Lake City)

■ Dave Jarrett, 1994, 1998, Nordic combined. (Lillehammer, Nagano)

■ Tyler Jewell, 2006, 2010, Alpine snowboarding. (Turin, Vancouver)

■ Clint Jones, 2002, 2006, ski jumping. (Salt Lake City, Turin)

■ Hank Kashiwa, 1972, Alpine. (Sapporo)

■ Billy Kidd, 1964, 1968, Alpine. (Innsbruck, Grenoble)

■ Caroline Lalive, 1998, 2002, Alpine.(Nagano, Salt Lake City)

■ Andy LeRoy, 1998, Alpine. (Nagano)

■ Jana Lindsey, 2006, 2010, freestyle aerials. (Turin, Vancouver)

■ Todd Lodwick, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 Nordic combined.(Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin and Vancouver)

■ Kerry Lynch, 1980, 1984, Nordic combined. (Lake Placid, Sarajevo)

■ Travis Mayer, 2002, 2006, freestyle. (Salt Lake City, Turin)

■ Adam McLeish, 2010, Alpine snowboarding. (Vancouver)

■ Chris McNeil, 1976, 1980, ski jumping. (Innsbruck, Lake Placid)

■ Rick Mewborn, 1988, ski jumping. (Calgary)

■ Jack Miller, 1988, Alpine. (Calgary)

■ Mike Morse, 2010, freestyle moguls. (Vancouver)

■ Crosby Perry-Smith, 1952, ski jumping. (Oslo)

■ Chris Puckett, 1992, Alpine. (Albertville)

■ Maria Quintana, 1988, freestyle. (Calgary)

■ Thedo Remmelink, 1998, Alpine snowboarding. (Nagano)

■ Katy Rudolph-Wyatt, 1952, 1956, Alpine. (Oslo, Cortina d'Ampezzo)

■ Ansten Samuelstuen, 1960, 1964, ski jumping. (Squaw Valley, Innsbruck)

■ Tommy Schwall, 2002, 2006, ski jumping. (Salt Lake City, Turin)

■ Johanna Shaw, 2006, 2010, snowboarding. (Turin, Vancouver)

■ Erin Simmons, 2006, snowboard cross. (Turin)

■ Jason Smith, 2006, snowboard cross. (Turin)

■ Johnny Spillane, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 Nordic combined. (Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin and Vancouver)

■ Ryan St. Onge, 2006, 2010, freestyle aerials. (Turin, Vancouver)

■ John Steele, 1932, ski jumping. (Lake Placid)

■ Richard Stethen, 1980, luge. (Lake Placid)

■ Tim Tetreault, 1992, 1994, 1998, Nordic combined. (Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano)

■ Craig Thrasher, 1994, Alpine. (Lillehammer)

■ Jorge Torrella (Puerto Rico), 1988, 1992, freestyle. (Calgary, Albertville)

■ Linas Vaitkus, 1998, Alpine. (Nagano)

■ Carl Van Loan, 2002, 2006, Nordic combined. (Salt Lake City, Turin)

■ Randy Weber, 1994, 1998, ski jumping. (Lillehammer, Nagano)

■ Keith Wegeman, 1952, Nordic combined, ski jumping. (Oslo)

■ Paul Wegeman, 1952, Nordic combined. (Oslo)

■ Buddy Werner, 1956, 1960, 1964, Alpine. (Cortina d'Ampezzo, Squaw Valley, Innsbruck)

■ Loris Werner, 1964, 1968, ski jumping, Alpine. (Innsbruck, Grenoble)

■ Skeeter Werner Walker, 1952, 1956, Alpine. (Oslo, Cortina d'Ampezzo)

■ Todd Wilson, 1988, 1992, Nordic combined. (Calgary, Albertville)

■ Gordy Wren, 1948, ski jumping, Nordic combined, cross-country. (St. Moritz)

■ Kimiko Zakreski, 2010, Alpine snowboarding. (Vancouver)