Youth Sports Alliance to host Olympic and Paralympic homecoming parade
Festivities on Main Street start at 5 p.m.
The Youth Sports Alliance will be celebrating past and present Park City Olympians and Paralympians with a parade on Main Street on Friday starting at 5 p.m.
Jan Mitchell, who is in charge of communications and grants for the nonprofit YSA, estimated that there will be 50 Olympians and Paralympians at the event. That list includes not just athletes from Park City, but also those who are from Utah or live and train in the state.
Local athletes such as freeskier Colby Stevenson, moguls skier Nick Page, speedskater Casey Dawson, Nordic combined athletes Jared Shumate and Stephen Schumann, luger Ashley Farquharson and freeskier Marin Hamill are among the 2022 Olympians who will be in attendance along with Paralympian alpine skier Danelle Umstead and her husband and guide, Rob. Two Olympic legends with Park City ties — alpine skier Ted Ligety and speedskater Eric Heiden — will also be there.
The parade will run down Main Street from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. before some speeches and recognition of the athletes at 5:30 p.m. and an autograph-and-photo session with the athletes at 6 p.m.
For the YSA, it’s a reminder of the role that it plays in helping develop Olympic-caliber athletes and introduce kids to new sports. Dawson, Farquharson and Shumate all received their start in their respective sports in the organization’s Get Out & Play program. Even if not every child who participates in the program will go on to compete at the Olympics, the organization helps to keep the legacy of the 2002 Olympics alive and well.
“I think the most important thing about this big day is that we truly have arrived with the three athletes who started in our programs a decade-plus ago,” Mitchell said. “Now, they are on the Olympic podiums or competing at the Olympics, and our organization was a legacy to the 2002 Olympic Games. Twenty years later, our organization has helped produce some of the top athletes in the world, with the help obviously of our clubs and national governing bodies.”
Mitchell is hoping that the opportunity to see these Olympians in person will help inspire the next generation of Park City athletes to achieve Olympic dreams of their own.
“One reason we do this event is to obviously welcome them home, but it is so inspiring to the next generation of kid who was like, ‘Oh, I saw Ted Ligety at that parade in 2010, I want to be him,’” she said. “I talked to Ashley Farquharson, and she basically said (that) the Olympics is all around you, so you never rule it out. Whereas, in a lot of communities in this country, it would never cross your mind that someday you could grow up to be an Olympian.”
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