Our Golden Girl Comes Home

With a high school drum line providing the backbeat and water cannons announcing that a VIP was on board, the Delta jet bringing Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington home, touched down Monday afternoon.

The golden girl with her Olympic gold medal

The golden girl with her Olympic gold medal

The excitement inside the terminal at Friedman Memorial Airport was palpable, the pride, collective, as the large crowd craned its collective head, hoping to catch a glimpse of the golden girl. Supporters holding signs of congratulation thronged the waiting room and media from all over the state and region were well represented.

Support from every part of the community was on display when Kaitlyn Farrington returned home

Support from every part of the community was on display when Kaitlyn Farrington returned home

Hundreds of local students came to the airport and lined the impromptu parade route, cheering for Kaitlyn

Hundreds of local students came to the airport and lined the impromptu parade route, cheering for Kaitlyn

Kaitlyn, who grew up on a ranch in Bellevue and took her first turns on a snowboard in Sun Valley as a member of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), returned to the Wood River Valley wearing the huge gold medal she earned in Sochi, Russia, as queen of the Halfpipe. Pitted against the top women in the sport, three of whom had won Olympic gold themselves, Kaitlyn dominated the event, earning a score of 91.75, and delivering two runs that showcased her style, skills and self-assurance.

She was met inside the terminal not only by supporters, but by the Mayor of Bellevue, Chris Koch. “On behalf of the Wood River Valley, we welcome you home,” Koch announced, and continued, “now the celebration can really begin because you are home with friends and family.” With that, he handed Kaitlyn the Key to the City of Bellevue.

Kaitlyn prepares to accept the Key to the City from Bellevue Mayor Chris Koch

Kaitlyn prepares to accept the Key to the City from Bellevue Mayor Chris Koch

With the Key to the City in one hand, and her medal glinting around her neck, Kaitlyn was modest and understated in her comments. “Thank you for supporting me through the years,” she smiled with her signature dimpled grin, “Thank you for getting my family to the Olympics, as well.” This referenced local fundraising efforts that helped pay for her parents, Suz Locke and Gary Farrington, to be in Sochi cheering their daughter to gold.

Next stop for Kaitlyn? She, her parents, and SVSEF snowboard coach Andy Gilbert will be driven in a convertible through Bellevue. The champion will then ride a ladder truck with local firefighters through Hailey and Ketchum to the SVSEF headquarters located at the base of Warm Springs at Bald Mountain. Hundreds of well-wishers are expected to line the streets and cheer for our golden girl.

Kaitlyn shows off that amazing medal next to Jason Carter, sports director at KMVT

Kaitlyn shows off that amazing medal next to Jason Carter, sports director at KMVT

A party is also in the works for Saturday, March 1, at the base of Warm Springs. Festivities begin at 2:30 p.m. at Warm Springs Lodge with live music and food and beverage specials from the Sun Valley Resort. At 4 p.m., an official ceremony honoring Kaitlyn will be held on the Warm Springs Deck, followed by a street party on Picabo Street between Jane Lane and Lloyd Court. Old Death Whisper will play, Apple’s Bar & Grill will provide food and libations, and everyone is invited.

For more on all the events, stay tuned to this blog.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn Farrington on your enormous accomplishment and for making this entire valley proud. Welcome home!

–RES

It’s Gold for Sun Valley’s Kaitlyn Farrington

It’s all anyone is talking about. From the coffee shop, to the grocery store, to the chairlift, there is one name on everyone’s lips: Kaitlyn Farrington. Earlier this week, Sun Valley’s golden girl won a gold medal in snowboard Halfpipe and this community could not be more proud!

It's gold for Sun Valley's Kaitlyn Farrington on Olympic snowboard Halfpipe! (photo Mark Sullivan)

It's gold for Sun Valley's Kaitlyn Farrington in Olympic snowboard Halfpipe! (photo Mark Sullivan)

Kaitlyn, a Bellevue native who took her first turns on a snowboard with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), dominated the Halfpipe event, earning a score of 91.75. Though new to the Olympic team this year, she delivered two no-holds-barred runs, besting more seasoned competitors. Her winning run included a 900 spin, a corked back flip and style to spare. She took the top step of the podium in Sochi, Russia, after the ride of her life, topping three previous Olympic champions, Torah Bright of Australia who scored 91.50 points and Kaitlyn’s teammate Kelly Clark who garnered 90.75 points.

Kaitlyn, a member of the SVSEF Gold Team, told the press following her win, “I can’t believe it. I come out to each contest and I try and do a different run and that’s my approach to it. Sitting at the bottom, I was stoked I landed my run and once I knew I was going to be on the podium I was happy. I was hoping to make it to the finals, that was my main goal and then during the finals I thought if I land a good run I might be on the podium. So to come out on top – I just can’t believe it.”

The big show in Sochi didn't intimidate Kaitlyn in her run for the gold (photo Mark Sullivan)

The big show in Sochi didn't intimidate Kaitlyn in her run for the gold (photo Mark Sullivan)

Andy Gilbert, head snowboard coach at the SVSEF, was equally stunned and thrilled. In an interview, he said, “I am in shock. I am in complete and utter shock. I can’t describe how it feels. Kaitlyn first started with us as a fifth grader and obviously it takes a village.”

“I do feel like she looked confident throughout,” Gilbert continued. “I was a little worried looking at the semis because it makes for a long day to push it in not get tired, but she came out swinging.”

Kaitlyn's incredibly proud (and nervous) parents watched her gold medal run in Sochi (photo Mark Sullivan)

Kaitlyn's incredibly proud (and nervous) parents watched her gold medal run in Sochi (photo Mark Sullivan)

Kaitlyn’s incredibly proud parents Gary and Suz, watched their daughter’s runs slope side, holding a small sign that read, “Kaitlyn Farrington, Cowgirl Up” — a saying coined by her former swim coach that had become a family joke. Cowgirl up, she did.

Sun Valley could not be more proud of this self-described Idaho cowgirl. “The Sun Valley community couldn’t be more thrilled for Kaitlyn as she stands on top of the podium with Olympic gold,” said Tim Silva, Sun Valley Resort, Vice President and General Manager. “She has worked incredibly hard to get where she is, and we can’t wait to welcome her home and celebrate this historic win with her!”

Kaitlyn, with her coach Elijah Teeter, inspires us all (photo Mark Sullivan)

Kaitlyn, with her coach Elijah Teeter, inspires us all (photo Mark Sullivan)

Preparations are already well underway to give Kaitlyn a hero’s welcome upon her return to Sun Valley. Huge banners that will hang across the main streets are already in production and plans are in the works to celebrate Kaitlyn and her victory in a way only Sun Valley can. Please stay tuned to this blog for more information on plans to celebrate her amazing win.

Kaitlyn continues a long Olympic heritage in Sun Valley but is the first Olympic medalist since Picabo Street brought home gold in alpine skiing from Nagano in 1998.

For more information on Kaitlyn Farrington, visit www.teamusa.org.

The snow continues to fall in Sun Valley and the snowboarding and skiing are the best they’ve been all year. Come channel your inner Kaitlyn at Dollar’s Olympic size Superpipe or just play in the terrain park.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn on your amazing win! Everyone who lives in Sun Valley, or loves it, can’t wait for you to come home so we can share your excitement and thank you for your inspiration.

–RES