Tales from the Tread: Olympic heritage celebrated | SteamboatToday.com

Tales from the Tread: Olympic heritage celebrated


The U.S. Nordic combined team shows off its silver medals at the Whistler Olympic Celebration Plaza during the 2010 Winter Olympics. The team, which includes from left to right Brett Camerota, Todd Lodwick, Johnny Spillane and Billy Demong, raced to second place in the team event earlier in the day.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat’s Olympic legacy is second to none. With more Olympic athletes from Steamboat Springs than any other town in the nation, you begin to wonder if athletic excellence is in the town’s water.

To celebrate this unmatched Olympic distinction, the Tread of Pioneers Museum offers weekly Olympic Heritage Tours at historic Howelsen Hill in the summer. This winter, tours are Jan. 13, Feb. 10 and March 10 at noon.

The tours are led by the U.S.’s only six-time Winter Olympian, local Nordic combined athlete Todd Lodwick. Lodwick shares his personal and professional journey to athletic excellence while also highlighting Steamboat’s Olympic heritage; the multiple impacts of Carl Howelsen; and the history of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Winter Carnival, Howelsen Hill Ski Area and the sports of ski jumping and Nordic combined.

Steamboat’s Olympic story started at Howelsen Hill with the founding of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in 1914 by Norwegian ski jumper Carl Howelsen. Over a century later, Howelsen Hill continues to serve as the headquarters of the club, where most local athletes, including Lodwick, get their start.

“As a little kid in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, I can distinctively remember writing down my goals in crayon, saying that I wanted to be the best in the world,” Lodwick said.

Carl Howelsen also was instrumental in jump starting recreational skiing and ski jumping locally as well as the ski jumping career of Steamboat’s first Olympian John Steele (1932). Over the decades, as Olympic competitors make Steamboat their home or return here to coach the next generation through the Winter Sports Club, our Olympic heritage and passion for winter sports continue to thrive to this day. At the 2018 Winter Olympics, 15 athletes called Steamboat home, more than most countries send to the events.

Of all of Steamboat’s Olympians, Lodwick stands out through his career-long accomplishments. Lodwick made the U.S. Olympic Team a record six times from 1994 to 2014, a feat unmatched by any U.S. Winter Olympian, earning him the honor of Opening Ceremonies flagbearer for Team USA at the Sochi, Russia, Winter Olympic Games in 2014. He was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.

If you go

What: Olympic Heritage Tours with six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick

When: Noon Jan. 13, Feb. 10 and March 10

Where: Howelsen Hill Lodge, 845 Howelsen Hill Parkway

Free but donations are appreciated; COVID-19 county and state guidelines followed. No reservations required; first come first served with limited spots.

In 2009, Lodwick made history when he won two gold medals in the 2009 World Championships, becoming the first person in the sport’s history to win both the ski jumping portion and the cross country competition in the same event.

At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Lodwick was a member of the U.S. four-man team from Steamboat that won a silver medal, the first medal breakthrough for the U.S. Team in all of Nordic combined history.

Lodwick retired when he was 37 after setting the bar for the sport for two decades.

“His overall career is the best in history. He’s a 29-time medalist in the Nordic Skiing World Cup. … He’s an 11-time U.S. champion in Nordic combined, and an eight-time U.S. champ in ski jumping,” wrote Bob Condron for the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

“We are honored to have such a decorated and accomplished local athlete leading these important historical talks and tours,” said Candice Bannister, executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum. “We hope that everyone will be inspired by and learn from Lodwick, especially the next generation of athletes.”

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