Longtime Howelsen Hill announcer entertains again at Friday’s Sync Cup
The loudspeakers at Howelsen Hill broadcast an astonishing array of tunes between races. Everything from Queen’s classic “Somebody to Love” to the seriously strange “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots, and pop jams like Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” entertained slalom skiers, coaches and onlookers on Friday.
Five minutes to race time, the music faded, and the announcer perked up.
“I’m happier than a bed bug in an old-folks home to be here,” he said.
The announcer, who goes by the name Peter Lemonjello while on the microphone, provides endless laughs with ridiculous quips and hilarious similes. Lemonjello is really Gardner Flanigan, longtime Steamboat Springs resident, parent and former coach.
“He must be angrier than a hornet in an empty Coke can,” he said of one racer who made a mistake and couldn’t finish. When another racer missed a gate, Flanigan guessed that “he’s more frustrated than a humpback in a limbo contest.”
“Sometimes I hear them from someone else,” Flanigan said. “Sometimes I make them up. If I see something funny, I just write it down.”
He’ll give the athletes nicknames, even if all he knows is their age and bib number. Oliver Helland from Vail was “Oliver hell in a handbasket” on Friday.
“I was tired of announcers just saying a number and a time,” Flanigan said. “I wanted it to sound exciting because the kids put a lot of effort into it and it should be celebrated. I go and try to be silly and make it fun and not try to be too critical.”
Flanigan has been announcing for about 25 years, having the pleasure of calling alongside a few others, including Roger Perricone, who goes by Squeegee Pepperone on the mic. He’s also been able to call NCAA championships, as well as many a Winter Carnival Night Show, which is his favorite to commentate.
He’s the man behind the phrase, “The upper, steep, dark, scary section,” which caught on and prompted printed t-shirts about surviving the specific part of the hill.
One of his proudest moments was when he was MC for a fundraiser, and well-known sports broadcaster Verne Lundquist came up to Flanigan and said he had done a great job.
Racers can’t hear what Flanigan is saying while bombing down the slopes, but sometimes they can get an idea of how they’re doing based on his tone.
“It kind of pumps you up for the end,” said Steamboat Springs Winter Sports club U16 skier Caman Beauregard, who finished fourth in the second Sync Cup race on Friday afternoon. “He’s the best.”
Curtis Zanni said the music and the commentating add to the atmosphere of the event.
“We’ve been at some races where the announcers aren’t as good,” Zanni said. “It’s way more enjoyable here. It’s a better environment.”
Caspian Troan was the top finisher for SSWSC skiers in race one on Friday morning, finishing fourth. As Flanigan would say, Troan was moving faster than a greased weasel in a drain pipe.
Zanni was the most consistent on the day, earning a pair of top-10 finishes. Zanni took sixth and seventh in Friday’s races, chasing after two-time victor Jevon Palmquist, who, according to Flanigan, was the bus driver taking the field to school.
Both Beauregard and Zanni have hopes of qualifying for U16 Championships, which will be at Howelsen and, of course, announced by the one and only Peter Lemenjello.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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