Steamboat ski jumper Decker Dean a late addition to Olympic team
Dean becomes 100th athlete with Steamboat ties to be named to an Olympic team
Wednesday, Steamboat Springs skier jumper Decker Dean was napping in bed at his winter base in Slovenia. A teammate knocked on his door and strongly suggested Dean look at his phone. Dean hesitated, pleading for sleep, but was convinced to look.
“I got on the phone with our sport director and our head coach, and they got a spot for me,” Dean said. “It feels really good. This whole week has been really, really hard.”
Dean, 21, was a late add to the Olympic ski jump team, he learned Wednesday.
Dean finished second at the Olympic Trials on Dec. 25, and has consistently been one of the strongest ski jumpers for the American men, exchanging top finishes with Kevin Bickner and Casey Larson, both of which were named to the three-man team on Jan. 20 alongside Patrick Gasienica.
But he believed he’d missed the cut until the unexpected news came Wednesday.
“Getting this news today was a complete change of events,” Dean added. “It was awesome.”
Dean had spent the entire winter churning out personal-best results and knocking on the top-30 door. He was confident he would make the team.
When he didn’t make the original cut last week, Dean was devastated.
“It was hard. It was almost like a grieving process honestly,” Dean said. “I knew that I had earned it. I knew I had the results to be on the team. It was tough. It was definitely not easy, but I’m so lucky to have my girlfriend over here and a support group that is super solid. Wrapping my head around it wasn’t easy, and I still hadn’t done that.”
The International Ski Federation reallocated quotas, which are earned by countries based on performances at the World Cup level. If a country turns down a spot, that quota is allocated to the next country up. The United States was next up, and Dean got the call.
Decker Dean — ski jumping
Taylor Fletcher — Nordic combined
Taylor Gold — halfpipe snowboarding
Jaelin Kauf — freestyle moguls
Mick Dierdorff — snowboardcross
Olivia Giaccio — freestyle moguls
Jasper Good — Nordic combined
Cody Winters — Alpine snowboarding
Robby Burns — Alpine snowboarding
Belle Brockhoff — Australia — Alpine snowboarding
Jarryd Hughes — Australia — Alpine snowboarding
Ester Ledecka — Czech Republic — Alpine skiing, Alpine snowboarding
Vic Wild — Russian Olympic Committee — Alpine snowboarding
Dean being named to his first Olympics makes him the fourth Steamboat athlete making an Olympic debut this year. He’s also the 100th Winter Olympian out of Steamboat Springs and the first ski jumper out of Steamboat since 2006.
“I’m relieved and thrilled,” said Todd Wilson, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club ski jumping and Nordic combined program director. “He deserves it. He’s arguably the best jumper in the country this winter.”
Ahead of the 2022 Olympics, 96 athletes who lived in Steamboat or competed with the SSWSC had been to the Olympics.
Earlier this year, Olivia Giaccio, Robby Burns and Cody Winters were all named to their first Olympic team, bringing the number to 99. Those who have already attended and counted aren’t counted again, like Taylor Fletcher, who is going to his fourth Olympics. He still counts as one Olympian.
Having the 100th Olympian be a ski jumper is a pleasantly full-circle moment for the city of Steamboat Springs, which has always been known for ski jumping.
“Growing up in Steamboat, it’s such an honor,” Dean said. “The rich history we have in Steamboat is huge. Being the 100th Olympian, that’s just cool. That’s going to be a cool thing I’ll be able to hold on to for the rest of my life.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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