Parkites will be watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony closely on Friday, especially when the U.S. delegation marches into the stadium. Among the parade of participants they are likely to recognize several familiar faces. More than a dozen athletes who call Park City home are participating in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and while we may know them better as classmates, neighborhood kids and car-pool buddies, this week they are the superstars of winter sports.
But because we know many of them personally, we know they weren't born superstars. We have watched them train before and after school and have watched their parents scrimp and save for new equipment and private coaches. Above all we know that luck played only a small part in getting them to the top of their fields - it was hard work, dedication and perseverance.
That translates into a lot of pressure for a once-every-four-years competition. We can only imagine the jitters they must feel in their respective starting gates with billions of people watching all over the world. Most of us would crumble under that kind of scrutiny.
So as our hometown athletes unpack their duffels in the Olympic athletes' village this week we would like to remind them that we are rooting for them. And, win or lose, they have already made us proud.
Yes, we know the Olympics are all about sorting out the fastest, the highest, the most daring and nimble. But we are also aware that the greatest athlete's reputation isn't based on one day's performance. It is built over a lifetime and has as much to do with integrity and sportsmanship as it has to do with the hardware slung around his or her neck
This week we'll watch and wince and cheer and two weeks from now we will welcome our skiers, snowboarders, bobsledders, lugers and skaters back home with open arms. Regardless of their final place on the podium, they have shown us how to be champions.