On February 6, competition kicks off for the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and joining the U.S. Olympic Team will be four local residents of Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. To celebrate their massive achievement — and to wish them well in going for gold — Aspen/Snowmass will be holding a ceremony in their honor (details below). Get to know these extraordinary athletes with our quick rundown.
Freestyle skier Torin Yater-Wallace is making quite the name for himself. He burst onto the scene three years ago at the age of 15, becoming the third-youngest male competitor in Winter X Games history. Since then, he has always put on a spectacular show at Buttermilk (basically, his backyard) by winning two silvers and a bronze in the Men’s Superpipe.
Now, Torin looks to translate his talented performances on the circuit into Olympic success. Torin is proudly sponsored by Aspen/Snowmass. Check out this warm-up run at the Winter X Games from last week.
For the second Winter Games in a row, Jeremy Abbott will be representing U.S. in men’s figure skating. In Vancouver, he finished 8th among one of the most talented fields in Olympics history. Born and raised in Aspen, Jeremy learned to skate and compete here in the valley, before moving to Colorado Springs (home of the U.S. Olympic Training Center) in 1999. Abbott has noted that this season will be his last, and he is showing every indication that he intends to go out on top. At the 2014 U.S. Championships, he finished first overall, solidifying his second consecutive spot on the Olympic team.
Many of Aspen’s previous Olympians are alums of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, and Simi Hamilton is among them. Born and raised in Aspen, Simi has always had a love of the outdoors, skiing through deep backcountry powder and racing on cross-country skis. In 2010, he qualified for his first Olympics, the Vancouver Winter Games, competing in the classic sprint, 15K skate race and 4 x 10km relay. But his true career highlight came just a few weeks ago, when he won his first World Cup stage event at Lenzerheide, Switzerland — the first ever such win by an American. He heads into Sochi in best form of his career.
While Simi scorches the sprint circuit, his teammate and fellow Aspen-native, Noah Hoffman, is setting the standard for the U.S. Men’s team in long-distance cross-country skiing. His performances in 2013 showed that he keeps improving with each year on the circuit — a top 10 finish at the Canmore World Cup, and two top 15 finishes at his second World Championships — one in the 4x10K relay, and another in the 15K freestyle.
JOIN US FOR THE SOCHI SEND-OFF
Wednesday, January 29
4pm, Gondola Plaza in Aspen
Come help us commemorate these athletes achievements and cheer them on to gold at the Olympic Games with our Aspen Sochi Sendoff at Gondola Plaza beneath Aspen Mountain. The ceremony will kick off at 4pm. The Olympians will be introduced and presented with a special gift. The ceremony will be followed by a party with food and drink specials at Chair 9 in The Little Nell.
And one more athlete to know about … Melanie Schwartz
After the Winter Games draw to a close on February 23, Sochi will turn around and prepare for the XI Paralympic Winter Games on March 7. Another resident of the valley — Melanie Schwartz — will be competing in women’s alpine skiing. Melanie actually competed in the X Paralympic Games in Vancouver as part of Team Canada, but this go around, with her dual citizenship, she is joining Team USA and pursuing gold in the possibly four events: the downhill, slalom, giant slalom and super G.