A different part of Olympic history

— The American flag will be flying high in Steamboat Springs this winter as dozens of local athletes chase their Olympic dreams in Salt Lake City.

While most of these elite athletes have spent years working to earn their shot at taking part in the Olympic Games, there are a couple of locals who found out just recently that they will be a also be a part of the pageantry that has come to surround the two biggest weeks in amateur sports.

These athletes will not have to test their athletic skills against the top athletes from other nations during their moment in the spotlight. Their contribution to the Games will involve carrying the Olympic Torch a whopping two-tenths of a mile a little less than one trip around the high school track as part of the Olympic Torch Parade.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not knocking the fact that these two runners are taking part in the Olympic relay. I can’t think of a better way (except making Steamboat a part of the official route) to reflect Steamboat’s rich Olympic heritage as a part of the Olympic Games.

The athletes Emily Conjura and Sue Lewis should be proud they were selected and will represent Steamboat Springs well during their journey.

In a town full of former and current Olympians these two women will take a rare place in Steamboat history. While they are both capable athletes and will be able to cover the required distance with ease, neither one of them has an Olympic past.

Like the majority of Olympic Torchbearers, these two are just regular Joes who inspired someone enough to be nominated and eventually selected to be a part of Olympic history. That’s what the Torch Relay is all about getting everyday people involved and interested in taking part in the Olympic Games.

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of these of these events that are designed primarily to build hype for an upcoming event. But this time around, I think the Torch Relay can play an important part in shifting American and world interest from terrorism and America’s new war against it.

In the day’s since Sept. 11, Americans have been, and rightfully so, consumed with the events in Afghanistan, Washington and New York. The Olympics have been mentioned, but usually in the context of security and the impact that the terror attacks will have on the Games.

Hopefully, when the Torch Relay begins this December, we all will be able to get behind it and follow it to Salt Lake City and the start of the Games. There is little doubt that world events will overshadow a lot of what goes on in Salt Lake and the surrounding mountains this winter. But I’m also sure that by running folks like Conjura and Lewis and their counterparts from other communities will be able to build excitement and interest in the Games.

And hopefully, even if it’s just for two weeks in February, things like skiing, hockey and bobsledding will help us all shift our focus from the bad things that have surfaced in the past few months. Maybe, just maybe, a little thing like a Torch Relay will help the healing begin.

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