This year’s Winter Carnival Queen says ‘hello’ from Switzerland
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The 2020 Winter Carnival’s Royal Court has been chosen, and the queen and her attendants are such go-getters this year that two of the interviews had to be done over a phone call to Switzerland. That’s where Queen Annika Belshaw and attendant Tess Arnone were competing at the 2020 Youth Winter Olympic Games.
Belshaw is known for having an awkward time talking about herself, so her coach Karl Denney did it for her.
“She’s one of the most driven athletes I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with,” said Denney, head coach of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s jumping and Nordic combined teams.
Belshaw, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, did say she was honored to represent SSWSC as queen but is likely to miss all the Winter Carnival events this year as she represents the United States on the U.S. Nordic Women’s Ski Jumping Team.
“Winter Sports Club means a lot. My teammates and coaches are a good influence, and my favorite thing is the people in the community that I’ve met and support me,” said Belshaw from her room at the Olympic Village in Lausanne, Switzerland.
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Also in Switzerland was Tess Arnone, a member of the Winter Sports Club Nordic combined team and a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School.
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Like Belshaw, Arnone was born and raised in the Yampa Valley. She started skiing with SSWSC even before starting grade school, and said the club is integral to whom she’s become.
“Sometimes, we’re living with the team for weeks at a time,” Arnone said. “I feel like I’ve grown up quicker and more resilient” as a team member.
Royal attendant Carina Creamer, a sophomore at the local high school, echoed Arnone’s thoughts.
“I’ve grown up in the program,” said Creamer, a freestyle skier. “It’s genuinely made me who I am. Representing the club means a lot to me.”
In fact, Creamer may be the only young woman on the royalty float in the Diamond Hitch Parade, as Belshaw will be in Europe and Arnone may be marching, or rather, skiing in the Ski Band down Main Street.
Creamer said she and the little princesses will gladly hold down the fort on the royal float.
“I like little kids a lot, so I’m sure it’ll be fun hanging out with all the little girls,” said Creamer.
Still, Arnone and Creamer should both be present at all the appropriate Winter Carnival events, including Opening Ceremonies at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, in Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill. The event honors the queen, her attendants, the little princesses and grand marshals of the Winter Carnival parade.
Click here to view a full schedule of events for the 2020 Winter Carnival, running from Wednesday, Feb. 5, to Sunday, Feb. 9, in Steamboat Springs.
But don’t feel sorry for Belshaw — representing the U.S. women’s jumping team at such a young age is a huge honor, said Denney.
“She’s jumped in Continental Cups and in the World Cups last year. For her age, that’s a big deal to step up into the World Cup and take her shot,” Denney said.
For now Belshaw has put college on hold, so she can continue training and competing for the U.S. Ski Jumping Team.
Members of the royal court have to be nominated by their coaches and must show superior sportsmanship, commitment to academics and be of good moral character. Actual winners are then drawn out of a hat if there are numerous nominees.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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