Tales from the Tread: Olympian tribute display open at Steamboat Ski Area
“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
Steamboat Springs’ Olympic tradition is second to none. Boasting more winter Olympic athletes than any other town in North American, 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 Ski Resort have partnered to produce an Olympian tribute display on the second floor of Steamboat Ski Area’s Thunderhead Lodge. The exhibit was made possible through a generous donation from the Duffey family in honor of Ed and Jayne Hill.
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 Springs their home or return here to coach the next generation through the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, our Olympic heritage and passion for winter sports continues to thrive to this day.
The display features local “History Makers” who have accomplished high achievement in their sports or contributed greatly to the sports heritage of Steamboat Springs. 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, Brett Camerota, Johnny Spillane, Bill Demong and 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. Current Olympians highlighted in the display are Caroline Lalive Carmichael, Alpine; Jim “Moose” Barrows, Alpine; Travis Mayer, freestyle; Kris “Fuzz” Fedderson, freestyle; Tyler Jewell, snowboarding; Chris McNeill, Nordic; Skeeter Werner Walker, Alpine; and Todd Wilson, Nordic.
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.
Project leader and Tread of Pioneers Museum curator Katie Adams worked with designers and an exhibit committee that included Mike Lane, public relations director at Steamboat Ski Area, and Candice Bannister, executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum. To create an accurate and compelling exhibit, Adams’ research included working with Olympians directly.
The Tread of Pioneers Museum staff and board are eager to bring our local history and exhibits outside of the museum’s walls and into the community. The ski area provides a prime public location.
“With the expertise of the Tread of Pioneers Museum, we have totally remodeled the Olympian display, bringing new life, vibrant colors and fresh focus to a space that has been popular for decades,” Lane said. “Steamboat’s competitive spirit and Olympian history will shine bright in this location and continue to showcase the accomplishments of the athletes this community holds so dear.
“I know people will truly enjoy the new display and I can’t thank everyone involved in this project enough for all their efforts to bring this to reality,” Lane added.
Candice Bannister is executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
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