Little town of Park City packs big Olympic punch
February 21, 2014
The number of Olympic medal-winning athletes with ties to Park City just keeps on climbing. Joss Christensen and Sage Kotsenburg collected their awards right off the bat followed by Devin Logan, Andrew Weibrecht, Steven Holcomb and Julia Mancuso. Then it was Maddie Bowman and Ted Ligety’s turn to add to the haul.
It is no wonder local shops are running out of red, white and blue party supplies and Parkites are growing hoarse from cheering. It has been a week of nonstop celebrations.
But the athletes are not the only ones who deserve kudos for Park City’s prominence on podiums. They had a lot of support from the community.
Thanks to organizations like the Park City Ski Team, the Youth Sports Alliance, the Park City Nordic Ski Club, the Utah Olympic Park, Women’s Ski Jumping USA and the Winter Sports School, along with countless coaches, physicians, equipment technicians and sponsors, Park City is gaining a reputation as an incubator for turning out formidable winter athletes.
And those organizations wouldn’t be as successful as they are today without the support from generous contributors throughout the community.
The Park City Ski Team, for instance, which claims double-gold-medal-winner Ted Ligety as an alum, started as a small youth development program but, with help from local ski shops, the resorts and individual donors, it has grown into a consistent feeder for the U.S. Ski Team.
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The Winter Sports School, which becomes a public charter school this year, has also played a major role in nurturing Park City’s all star athletes. Five of this year’s medalists Ted Ligety, Julia Mancuso, Joss Christensen, Steven Holcomb and Andrew Weibrecht are WSS alumni.
The school operates on a summer schedule that gives students time to compete during the traditional school year. That means promising winter athletes don’t have to choose between pursuing a sport or an education. The Winter School’s transition to a public charter school may also help to lower some of the financial barriers to those aspiring to become competitive winter athletes, enabling a new pool of talent to participate.
It is no wonder there are so many familiar faces on the slopes, ramps, rinks, jumps and tracks in Sochi. A deep bench of Park City supporters helped to put them there, and everyone who has coached, carpooled, contributed, donated equipment, housed an athlete or funded a sports scholarship deserves some of the credit.
When the final medal count is tallied on Sunday, it is a good bet people around the world will be talking about the little town in Utah that had such a big impact on the Winter Games in Sochi.
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