There is nothing like a heavy snowfall to set the mood for the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games. As millions gathered electronically Friday night to watch the world’s best athletes convene at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, a large crowd congregated in downtown Ketchum at Whiskey Jacques as light, fluffy snow accumulated quickly outside.
The evening, hosted by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, drew many avid skiers and snowboarders to cheer on Team USA as well as the local athletes representing the Wood River Valley. Three talented women who call the Sun Valley-area home have the town’s strong and vocal support.
Snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington, 24, grew up in the Wood River Valley is a product of the SVSEF snowboard program. Andy Gilbert, head development coach of the SVSEF snowboard team told Transworld Snowboarding, “Kaitlyn was part of the first wave of kids that benefited from Sun Valley investing in a halfpipe program. When she started high school and we saw her competing and holding her own, she graduated to bigger events and really got on the radar. All of the coaches that have been involved with Kaitlyn’s training from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation over the years are really proud of her accomplishment. It’s great to see the excitement and support our entire community has for her and her family.”
Kaitlyn became the first women’s rider to perform a backside 900 and is known for her high-octane enthusiasm, determination, super positive attitude and calm. She told Transworld Snowboading, “I’m proud to join the ranks of the legendary athletes who have participated in both the winter and summer Olympic Games before me, and who also call Sun Valley home,” said Farrington. “This is something I’ve been working toward for a long time, and heading to Sochi and competing on the world’s stage is going to be 100 percent fun!”
February 12 is go time for Kaitlyn, as the three rounds of qualification, semi-final and finals will be held that day.
Bringing her Sun Valley roots to center ice, standout women’s hockey forward Hilary Knight is definitely one to watch. This Sun Valley resident will join her teammates in a run for the gold. Knight, 24, made her Olympic debut at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. That year, she was part of the team that won the silver medal.
Hilary is already shining in the Sochi Games. In Team USA’s first game against Finland, she scored 53 seconds into the first period and also made an assist in a game that ended 3 -1 in favor of Team USA. This set the tone for what we can expect from Hilary and her team in the coming weeks.
On the slopes, Jasmine Campbell who was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands but moved to Sun Valley when she was ten, will race for the U.S. Virgin Islands’ ski team. Jasmine, 22, will compete in the giant slalom and slalom. Jasmine is the only winter athlete representing the USVI and she proudly carried the flag in the Opening Ceremonies. She follows in her father John’s footsteps. He skied in the 1992 Winter Olympics on the Virgin Islands’ team.
The enthusiastic crowd at Whiskeys, and gathered around widescreens throughout the Wood River Valley, were probably also cheering Olympic competitor Ashley Wagner. Ashley performed this August in Sun Valley On Ice on her road to Sochi.
On Saturday, our local children, many with Olympic dreams of their own hit 12” of fresh powder Saturday morning (with up to 10” more expected to fall over the weekend). I imagine many members of the SVSEF alpine, snowboard and freestyle teams, as well as the athletes of Sun Valley’s Free Ride program saw their podium-potential as they floated down the perfect slopes. Who knows who among them may be the next Kaitlyn Farrington or Jasmine Campbell.
Olympic fever is a wonderful affliction to get. Go Team USA! Go Team Sun Valley! We are very proud of all of our Olympic athletes and Sun Valley’s longstanding tradition of producing some of the world’s top athletes.
Check HERE for the full Olympics television schedule.