Park City brings Games back home: Local Olympians and Paralympians parade down Main

The following is an excerpt from an article published at ParkRecord.com:

On a bleak Tuesday afternoon with frosty winds whipping through Main Street, Park City residents showed where their priorities lie by lining the streets at a parade for Utah’s 2010 Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

“It’s always great to see the community out to honor the Olympians, because I just remember the 2002 Olympics, and being with this group again brings back memories,” said Park City resident Lola Beatlebrox.

“The last time it was like this was July 4th,” she said.

Beginning as advertised at 5:30 p.m. sharp, local junior athletes trod behind a convoy of international stars while viewers took part in the traditional parade fare – waving, screaming and snapping photos.

There were no floats, as athletes rode in a cavalcade of SUVs and pickup trucks. 2010 World Cup super G title winner Ted Ligety led off and quickly heeded one photographer’s cry to “Start waving!”

Paralympic sled hockey gold medalist Greg Shaw joined fellow Park City resident and Closing Ceremony flag-bearer Monte Meier in an SUV adorned with posters and paint, while recently retired bronze medalist Shannon Bahrke shared a truck bed with Heather McPhie, bronze medalist Bryon Wilson and Nate Roberts.

“It was a nice surprise,” said New York’s Bob Ingersoll, a winter sports fan on vacation in Park City. “Ted Ligety and Shannon Bahrke – that made my day. I watched those guys during the Olympics.”

Nordic combined medalists Brett Camerota and Billy Demong nearly tumbled on top of each other as their truck
accelerated quickly at the top of Main Street, giving their audience a laugh.

Camerota was on a post-Olympic vacation in Thailand when he found out about the parade and rushed home.

“I really wanted to get away a little bit, but once I found out about the parade in Park City, I definitely made sure I made it back,” Camerota said. “These programs are pretty much the reason I have a medal, so I wanted to show all the kids
that these programs are a lot of fun and they actually do work.”

Aerialists Lacey Schnoor and Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, and speedskaters Travis Jayner, Rebeckah Bradford, Tucker Fredericks and Catherine Raney Norman were also among the 24 athletes on hand.

The School of Rock Show Band played while athletes signed autographs for hoards of fans young and old alike at the Town Lift Plaza.

“We have a lot of pride,” said City Manager Tom Bakaly at a Park City Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday afternoon before the parade. “We love being able to pull together, especially with the ski team taking the lead (in medals).”

Bakaly said Park City’s variety of elite training facilities – like the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s Center of Excellence – not only benefit Utah’s medal count, but local businesses.

“Every time Park City gets mentioned, that’s good on a lot of levels,” Bakaly said. “But on an economic level, it’s very important to us.”

Billy Demong, who first moved to Park City to train with his teammates and is originally from Vermontville, N.Y., said the work done by the city has made it feel like home.

“The town has really grown on me over the years,” Demong said. “At the beginning, it was a means to an end, but it’s been really cool to watch the community develop.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Something in the water in Utah breeds great Olympic athletes

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