Aspen’s sending four athletes to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the community gathered Wednesday, to send them off. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen was at the event at the Gondola Plaza. She filed this report.
"Welcome to our 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic send-off for our local Olympians!"
Chris Klug, a three-time Olympian, hosted the ceremony. A sizable crowd gathered under light snow while Klug introduced the four Olympic athletes.
"We extend sincere congratulations to Jeremy Abbott, Simi Hamilton, Noah Hoffman and Torin Yater-Wallace," he said.
Abbott is a figure skater, while Hamilton and Hoffman cross-country ski. Yater-Wallace will compete in a new event at the Olympics: Ski Halfpipe. He was the only athlete at Wednesday's event. Klug asked him what he was most excited about in Sochi.
"I don’t know, the whole experience, itself. It’s not something I expected in freeskiing, but all of a sudden it was added to the Olympics and I made, I’m going," Yater-Wallace said.
Family members of the other athletes accepted a gift from the Aspen Skiing Company and spoke briefly about their athlete. Mayor Steve Skadron made a proclamation of support from the City of Aspen.
"Whereas, these athletes have trained hard and exemplified the spirit of sportsmanship, determination, and pride for their city and country...Now, therefore, be it proclaimed that the mayor, the City Council and the citizens of Aspen hereby proclaim February 2014 as Aspen Olympians month."
Klug says in 2010, Aspen sent more Olympians to the Vancouver Games than any other town in the country. Seven athletes went that year. The Olympics start in Sochi on February 7th.