Tales from the Tread: Olympian Ben Berend to lead tours
The Tread of Pioneers Museum is thrilled to announce that local Nordic Combined Olympian Ben Berend will be leading the museum’s weekly Olympic Heritage Walking Tours this summer at the historic Howelsen Hill Ski Area. The free tours meet at 9 a.m. every Tuesday in front of Howelsen Hill Lodge, are one hour and run June 15 to Sept. 14.
The tours highlight Howelsen Hill’s century-old history, local Olympic athletes, the multiple talents of Norwegian ski jumper Carl Howelsen and the history of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, ski jumping, Nordic combined and more. Howelsen Hill is the oldest continually operating ski area in North America, a distinction recently celebrated by the city of Steamboat Springs.
In addition to the history, the tour’s focus allows participants to hear personal experiences from local Olympians. As a bonus, the tour is scheduled to coincide with SSWSC ski jumping practice at Howelsen Hill, so that tour participants can witness the daring feats in person.
Berend was born and raised in Steamboat, and at the age of 3, he learned how to ski at Howelsen Hill. By the time he was 7 years old, he had already decided that he’d be an Olympian someday.
“Steamboat’s Olympic heritage is what gave me the desire and inspiration to follow my athletic dreams from a young age,” Berend said.
Berend spent nearly his entire childhood and young adult life glued to Howelsen Hill, honing his craft. At 18, Berend was named to the Nordic Combined National Team, and over the next five years, he competed in 24 World Cups, three World Championships and the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
When asked about his favorite moments as an athlete, Berend can’t recall an exact moment but points out all the celebrations, tears, snowball fights, Mile Run laps and friendships during his time in the SSWSC. He will always remember his five minutes in the leader’s box at the 2018 Olympics.
What: Olympic Heritage Tours
When: 9 a.m. every Tuesday from June 15 to Sept. 14
Where: Howelsen Hill Lodge, 845 Howelsen Parkway
Berend now lives in Steamboat full time working as a realtor for Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty, serving on the city’s Parks and Rec Commission and coaching the SSWSC’s next generation of skiers at Howelsen Hill.
Berend said he is excited to take over the tours from the tour’s former guide, Todd Lodwick, Team USA’s only six-time Olympian.
“Steamboat Springs’ Olympic heritage is truly one of a kind,” Berend said. “I’m proud to be able to help the museum share more about our Olympic heritage, Howelsen Hill and its defining role in this town’s athletic success, as well as to talk about the athletes who have and will represent Steamboat Springs on the world’s largest stage.”
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