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Journey leads home

— When Olympic ski racer Caroline Lalive Carmichael’s family came to Steamboat Springs in 1995, she was looking for an opportunity that would lead a spot to the U.S. Ski Team.

The move paid off for the California native, who spent 13 years as a member of the national team after being named to it in 1996. She also won a Junior World Championship and went to the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, and Salt Lake City.

Lalive Carmichael became a poster child for parents willing to pick up and move to a town in order to give their children a shot at reaching their athletic goals, but she is quick to point out that the move to Steamboat was about more than just her skiing career.

Sure, she came here for top-level coaching, she came here so that she could train as much as possible, but more importantly, she came here because her parents thought it would be the right fit — not only for Caroline, but also for her younger sister and brother.

“I would never second guess anyone’s decision to move their family or their children for an opportunity of getting to the next level,” Lalive Carmichael said. “I think parens will do everything possible to see their child succeed, and if that means moving to provide an opportunity, I think most parents would do it.

“The important thing is to look at the big picture,” Lalive Carmichael explained. “They need to look at where the family is at that moment, but they also need to consider where they will be down the road — they need to think about the repercussions.”

Lalive Carmichael said the decision to move was easy for her because she came to Steamboat Springs with her family. She said her father was a developer and contractor so he could find work in Steamboat and her family was also looking for a change after spending several years running a peach orchard in northern California.

“Steamboat was kind of like coming back to what we were more familiar with,” Lalive Carmichael said. “Since my sister and brother came with me, there wasn’t a lot of pressure to succeed. I just had to go out every day and do what I loved.”

It didn’t take long before Lalive Carmichael was dominating races in the region, and within months of arriving in Steamboat, she was named to the U.S. Ski Team. She said the move to Steamboat was the push that put her over the top.

Steamboat left its mark on the two-time Olympian, and when she finished skiing, she returned to the valley that launched her career. She coached at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and spent a season as the Alpine director. She married Nelson Carmichael, and the couple is now raising their daughter Freya Carmichael here.

Lalive Carmichael’s mother still lives in town, and her sister is just down the road in Breckenridge.

“Moving to Steamboat Springs was a pretty easy decision,” Lalive Carmichael said. “The town had so much to offer, and it went way beyond just skiing. The town had good schools; it had a good lifestyle with the mountains and outdoors. It wasn’t like we were moving to the middle of nowhere — that would have been weird. But I understand why parents do it. We would do anything for the success of our children.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966


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