Steamboat Winter Sports Club’s Natalie Geer named Winter Carnival queen |

Steamboat Winter Sports Club’s Natalie Geer named Winter Carnival queen

Steamboat Springs native Natalie Geer is the 2011 Winter Carnival queen.
John F. Russell

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Check out a complete list of events for this year's Winter Carnival here.

— In spring 2009, Steamboat Springs native Natalie Geer was grounded with four compressed vertebrae in her thoracic spine.

But by the time the snowflakes started falling the next fall, the 17-year-old high school senior took to the skies above the half-pipe on her snowboard once more, traveling all across the country as a Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athlete, culminating in a recent first-place finish at a Gatorade Free Flow Tour stop in Vail.

“I love the feeling when I land a run,” Geer said. “It’s just become really comfortable for me.”

But she’s learned it takes more than balance on a snowboard to be successful in life.

Geer, who has been snowboarding with the Winter Sports Club since she was in seventh grade, was named queen of the 98th annual Winter Carnival, presented by the Winter Sports Club.

Her attendants are junior Natalie Pearl and sophomore Dori McNeill.

Geer will be recognized with this year’s Winter Carnival little princesses and grand marshals at the festival’s opening ceremonies at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 2 in Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill Lodge.

Geer said she was proud of the work she put in that helped her earn the title, which goes to a senior athlete with strong academic, moral and athletic standing.

“I feel like it’s an honor and it shows the work I’ve put into being an athlete but also making sure I’m strong in academics and being a good person,” she said.

The theme of this year’s Winter Carnival reflects that same sentiment: Building Athletes … Building Individuals is what the Winter Sports Club hopes to do with its participants.

“It’s a great program. I’ve learned so much, and we travel all the time, and it’s become a second family to me,” Geer said. “I just love the environment, and it’s a great social thing. I have friends all over the country.”

In addition, she had to learn balance with work and play, after missing 40 percent of school because of travel.

“It brought definitely independence to me,” she said. “To keep up with calculus and keep a 4.0 GPA, you have to learn that balance.”

To qualify as Winter Carnival queen, high school girls must meet several criteria. The requirements include five years of participation in a full-time competitive program at Winter Sports Club; enrollment as a high school senior in a public or private school in Routt County; representing Winter Sports Club “in a positive manner reflecting the attributes of hard work, commitment to school and sport, superior sportsmanship and reputable moral conduct;” a GPA of at least 3.5; and a recommendation from a program director or coach.

Candidates for Winter Carnival attendant are judged by the same criteria, but they must be in 10th or 11th grade. The names of every girl who meets the criteria are placed in a hat, and the girls honored with each title are selected from there.

The Little Toots Princess Program started in 1957 and is open to girls who are at least 5 years old but are not yet in first grade and who are in their second year of one of many Winter Sports Club programs. This year’s princesses are Lila Boniface, Alexa Brabec, Grace Brice, Harper Danielson, Allie Keefe, Aidan Kerigan, Evan Quinn and Neve Wade.

Geer, who has lived in Steamboat Springs her whole life, said she has vivid memories of being pulled by horses down Lincoln Avenue and competing in the Soda Pop Slalom at Winter Carnival.

“It was always kind of family things, and it was that exciting time of year,” she said. “Christmas is over, and it’s kind of a middle-of-winter celebration.”

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