The Vancouver Games are in full swing this week as curling fills daytime TV, Shaun White and Shani Davis defend their gold medals, figure skating draws millions of TV viewers each prime time, Gold medalist Hannah Kearney sets the stage in the moguls, and stars like Apolo Anton Ohno, Lindsey Jacobellis, Jeret Peterson, Kikkan Randall, Kelly Clark, Bode Miller, Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn continue to display the Olympic spirit.
And in this valley, we have our very own Olympic heroes. Graham Wantanabe, Morgan Arritola, and Simi Hamilton continue to represent the Olympic spirit that is so alive in this country and this community.
Two-time Olympian Graham Wantanabe, who hails from Hailey, is one the brightest, friendliest faces of the games. Always with a kind smile and with anecdotes to make you laugh (telling reporters in Vancouver, "Try to imagine Pegasus mating with a unicorn. And the offspring . . . I’d somehow tame it and ride it into the clouds, the sunshine and rainbows. That’s how I feel."), Graham is a role model to snowboarders, athletes, and fans all over the world. During the Men’s BoarderCross comp on Tuesday, Graham made it out of the qualifying rounds as the fastest American, with the second fastest time overall. Unfortunately, a small bobble in the finals eliminated his chance in the medal round, while defending gold medalist, American Seth Wescott went on to win his second gold medal. These games may not have ended as Graham had hoped, the valley and local community continues to be incredibly proud of our Olympic Champion and can’t wait to see him back on the slopes of Bald Mountain sometime soon. Congrats, Graham!
Nordic skiers and SVSEF Olympic Development Team athletes, Morgan Arritola and Simi Hamilton made their Olympic debuts this week. Arritola, who only began skiing seven years ago, finished as the second fastest American female in the 10K sprint race. Her finish at the middle of the pack, in 34th place, serves as a successful beginning to what we can only hope is a long and successful Olympic career for Morgan. Simi Hamilton, too, had an incredibly successful beginning to his Olympic story. Simi made it past the qualification round in Wednesday’s Individual Sprint and finished as the fastest American man in 29th place.
Both Morgan and Simi are expected to race in the coming pursuits so don’t miss your chance to cheer on more local heroes! Morgan will compete again Friday in the 15K Pursuit, starting at 12 pm (Mountain Time Zone) and Simi will race in Saturday’s 30K Pursuit, beginning at 12:30 pm (Mountain Time Zone).