Tales from the Tread: Olympian Tribute up at Steamboat Resort
“It taught me to train hard and dream big … and believe that I could achieve at any level.”
— Olympian Johnny Spillane on the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Everyone knows Steamboat Resort opens this week. But what you might not know is that, while you are up there skiing, you can learn more about Steamboat’s unmatched Olympic heritage at the Olympian Tribute display on the second floor of Thunderhead Lodge.
Steamboat Springs’ Olympic tradition is second to none. Boasting more winter Olympic athletes than any other town in North America, our Olympic heritage runs strong and deep. To honor all of our local Olympians who represent Ski Town USA on the world stage, the Tread of Pioneers Museum and the Steamboat Resort partnered to produce the permanent display.
The exhibit tells the story of the competitive spirit and quest for excellence that began with Norwegian ski jumper, Carl Howelsen. Among his many contributions, Howelsen introduced the town of Steamboat Springs to the sports of skiing and ski jumping, built the first ski jumps at Howelsen Hill and founded the legendary Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and Winter Carnival. He also coached Steamboat’s first Olympian, ski jumper John Steele.
As Olympic competitors make Steamboat their home or return here to coach the next generation through Winter Sports Club, our town’s Olympic heritage and passion for winter sports continues to thrive to this day.
The display features local “History Makers” who have accomplished a high area of achievement in their sports or contributed greatly to the sports heritage of Steamboat Srings. They are the elite class of athletes who are pioneers in their sports, or medaled for Team USA, and most are members of the national or Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, or both. These athletes are John Steele, Nordic; Gordy Wren, Nordic and Alpine; Buddy Werner, Alpine; Johnny Spillane, Nordic; Todd Lodwick, Nordic; Katy Rudolph Wyatt, Alpine; Ann Battelle Ayad, freestyle; Nelson Carmichael, freestyle; Shannon Dunn-Downing, snowboarding; and the 2010 U.S. Nordic Team composed of Brett Camerota, Johnny Spillane, Bill Demong, and Todd Lodwick.
Another major segment of the exhibit is the “Olympian Spotlights.” This area of the exhibit is designed to be interchangeable to feature various Olympians in the future. In addition to artifacts and sports gear that belonged to local Olympians, a key focus of the exhibit is a looping photo slide show that provides an all-inclusive list of our local Olympic athletes with their attending Olympics, as well as their teams and disciplines.
The exhibit is another example of the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s focus to bring our rich local history and exhibits and programs outside of the museum’s walls and into the community.
Candice Bannister is the executive director at Tread of Pioneers Museum.
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