Olympic gold medalists Joss Christensen, Sage Kotsenburg and Ted Ligety are welcomed by a large hometown crowd during a snowy Olympic and Paralympic Homecoming Parade on Saturday in Park City. (Riley Steinmetz/U.S. Ski Team)
PARK CITY, Utah (April 8) – The future dreams of Park City youth shined brightly through a spring snowstorm as Olympic medalists led a homecoming parade down Park City’s historic Main Street Saturday. Organized by the community’s Youth Sports Alliance, kids were inspired by the site of the many gold medals as they walked hand-in-hand with Olympic champions down Main Street. The venerable Stein Eriksen, himself a 1952 Olympic champion and longtime iconic Park City resident, led the parade.
With many fresh back from visiting the White House, Park City’s homegrown medalists were the highlight of the parade including Joss Christensen (2014 slopestyle skiing gold medalist), Steve Holcomb (2014 bobsled 2x bronze medalist), Ted Ligety (2014 giant slalom gold medalist), and Sage Kotsenburg (2014 slopestyle snowboarding gold medalist). Kotsenburg was also honored during the White House visit as top male athlete in the Best of U.S. Awards, televised by NBCSN.
Despite a microburst snowstorm, the Park City community turned out in droves to support the athletes – some of whom grew up in town and others who now make it their training base, including 2010 Olympic champion Billy Demong, 2002 skeleton gold medalist Jimmy Shea and more.
The Park City/Summit County-area sent 63 athletes (48 Olympians and 15 Paralympians), representing four countries including the United States, Australia, Ireland and Paraguay to compete in the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. They closed out the Sochi Olympic Winter Games with three gold medals, two silver and three bronze medals. Competing as its own country, Team Park City would have finished 14th in the world medal standings between South Korea and Sweden.
The parade was followed by a presentation of athletes, plus a greeting from Park City Mayor Jack Thomas, USSA President and CEO Tiger Shaw, along with a proclamation citing it as Olympic Legacy Day from Summit County Council members Chris Robinson and Kim Carson.
“People always ask me where I'm from - Park City,” said bobsledder Steve Holcomb. “This is my hometown, this is where I was born. These are homegrown Olympic medals. I'm so proud to be able to share these with the city.”
“I had a big meeting with the kids who look up to all of us,” said Sage Kotsenburg, who found his inspiration as an eight-year old watching the 2002 halfpipe sweep. “I remember being that kid - having 20 signatures on my jacket. It's really cool to inspire kids as a snowboarder.”
“Each of our Olympians had their inspiration growing up in a community where they had contact with amazing athletes plus an opportunity to participate in the sport of their choice,” said Youth Sports Alliance Executive Director Aimee Preston. “The ability to get an autograph or touch an Olympic medal is a motivator that will undoubtedly start an Olympic career for a young boy or girl, just like it did for Ted, Joss, Sage and Steve.”
The event, lead by the Youth Sport Alliance, was a collaboration of the Youth Sports Alliance, the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, the National Ability Center, Park City Municipal Corporation, the Park City Chamber & Visitors Bureau, Summit County, and the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association.
For more information on introductory sport programs, please contact the Youth Sports Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org, 435.214.0792, or visit ysaparkcity.org.
About the Youth Sports Alliance The YSA supports the Get Out & Play elementary school program, fundraising for 13 member teams, and scholarships for junior athletes. The supported programs range from "learn to" programs, that keep kids active through winter sports, to teenagers aspiring to Olympic or National Team status and collegiate competition. Through YSA programs and scholarships all local children are offered the chance to participate in winter sports regardless of financial status.