Asking for help and counting the days, aspiring Steamboat Olympians look ahead
You start counting the days a year out, Brant Crossan explained, so he started this spring, Feb. 9, at 365.
February 10 was 364. February 11, 363.
Day 300 came and went in April. Tuesday marked another big number, 200.
The days count down to the Opening Ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, and Crossan is entirely focused on being there on day 0.
“That was always the goal growing up,” Crossan said. “You dream about it.”
Thursday, day 198, Crossan and fellow Steamboat Springs skier and Olympic dreamer Ryan Dyer will play host to a fundraiser at Old Town Pub in downtown Steamboat Springs to help finance their pursuit of that dream.
Doors will open at 5:45 p.m., and a $10 cover will include a drink, food and a raffle ticket. There will be a silent auction, music and, Crossan assures, “a regular, good old time.”
The money is meant to help pay for the expenses of what’s sure to be a pivotal season for both Crossan and Dyer. Those expenses include extensive travel around the globe for competitions, equipment and training and living expenses during the season.
Dyer said it can run to $30,000, and that’s before he pays his coach, longtime Steamboat Springs-based freestyle skiing instructor Timmy Meagher.
For both, the path to the Olympics is a difficult one.
Crossan is heading into his eighth season skiing World Cup events, and he’s coming off one of his best.
He finished last season ranked 35th in the World Cup standings, and he accomplished that despite missing about a third of the season after breaking his thumb twice.
In March, he competed in his second World Championships and placed 12th there, one of the best results of his career.
“It helps to have a good result at a big event like that,” he said. “It’s fantastic in the eyes of the Olympic committee, because it goes into selection criteria and makes them think, ‘Maybe this guy has a chance to go to the Games and make something of it.’”
He’ll need to continue to elicit that reaction from those who will decide — the U.S. Olympic Committee. The United States hasn’t typically sent a large contingent for skier cross, starting two men’s skiers in the 2010 Olympics and only one in 2014.
Crossan has finished the last two years as the top-ranked American in the World Cup standings, but it’ll take more than that if he’s to make the Olympics. He’ll need to prove to his country’s Olympic committee that he’s worth the spot, that he’s a threat to bring home a medal.
He’s hoping to crack the top 32 of the World Cup standings and, if all goes well, even the top 16.
“If I have a similar season to what I had last year, only without the injuries, I have a really good chance,” he said. “I think it’s about 50-50.”
Dyer, too, needs some big-time results to lock up a spot on the Olympic team.
He’s had a bumpy journey through the sport, overcoming two season-ending injuries. He served two separate stints on the U.S. Ski Team, but saw the most recent one end this spring, when he wasn’t named to the squad for the 2017-18 season.
He’s confident that’s only a setback on paper, however.
“Even if I were still on the team, I’d have the same chance to make the Olympics as I do right now,” he said.
That chance hinges on big results early in the season, starting with the U.S. Team Selections event in December. If he does well there, he’ll earn World Cup starts, and if he does well in those, he could earn his spot on the Olympic team.
Easy enough, right?
“I’m so ready and excited to give what I have,” Dyer said. “It really just boils down to hitting the details, not taking shortcuts and having fun while I do it, because that’s really all I can do.”
It’s all certainly weighing on the minds of Crossan and Dyer, and they’re hoping Thursday’s event can bring in plenty of hometown support as they tackle the process.
So far, they’ve gotten plenty of support, pulling in items for their silent auction from around the Yampa Valley and even beyond.
They ended up with enough they even turned a few away, fearful of diluting the auction.
“I’d call and say, ‘Hi, I’m an aspiring Olympian here in Steamboat,’” Dyer said, recounting the process of seeking donations. “Because Steamboat is the community it is, most people were all about it. It’s been really eye-opening to me, how gung-ho everyone is on it, and it’s really exciting.”
It’ll make for a fun night, he said, but it’s just another step on a path. When they wake up Friday morning, the number will be down to 197.
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