Junior Olympics about more than winning

— The dream can be found in the start, between the red and blue gates along the slalom course and across the finish line of the giant slalom.

This week’s Junior Olympic Champion-ships are about a lot more than just the thrill of ski racing it’s about giving young athletes a chance to dream and learn.

The truth is that only a few of the 150-plus athletes who are competing this week will ever get a chance to race at the actual Winter Olympic Games. But at least for a few days in Steamboat Springs these young skiers can chase a dream of representing their team at the Olympics.

For a few of the skiers, the Junior Olympics will be a launching pad for successful ski racing careers that will someday end up at skiing’s biggest event.

This week’s events are designed to teach young skiers the skills they need to be successful on the racecourse and hopefully to be successful in life.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

But local organizers have worked hard to make sure that this week’s events will be a lesson for future Olympic stars as well as those skiers who can only dream of making it that far.

In addition to lessons about how to turn, glide and find success in between the gates, the organizers have planned sessions on sportsmanship and found ways for the young athletes to have fun both on and off the racecourse.

Race director Barb Shipley said the organizers went out of their way to stress sportsmanship. She wants the skiers and their parents to walk away from the events as better skiers and better sports. To accomplish this there are lectures about sportsmanship mixed between the actual races.

There were also events designed to introduce and encourage the athletes to cheer for one another regardless of which team they belonged to before the week began.

Sure the idea of the races was to crown winners, but efforts were made to make all the skiers feel like winners no matter where they finished on the course.

I tip my hat to the organizers who realized these events would be some skiers’ first introduction to competitive ski racing and those who tried to make sure that the focus wasn’t just on winning.

In the next few years these young skiers will be faced with many decisions far more important than ski racing.

They will decide who there friends are, what course their lives will take and what kind of a role drugs and alcohol will play in their everyday lives. The purpose of the Junior Olympics, and skiing for that matter, will not be about who won the slalom.

It’s already guaranteed that at the end of the week there were a handful of skiers who earned podiums. But there were far more skiers who leaving without any medals and without ever getting a taste of what it is like to win.

The true measure of this event’s success will come if all the skiers walk away feeling like they won even if they never set foot on a podium.

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