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Grand Nordic Corner

Diana Lynn Rau / Grand Nordic Corner
Grand County, CO Colorado

On April 18, Grand County schools were spellbound by four Nordic Combined guys who

Diana Lynn Rau / Grand Nordic Corner

Grand County, CO Colorado

On April 18, Grand County schools were spellbound by four Nordic Combined guys who really are the best of the best, earning gold and silver at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Four time Olympian Billy Demong is officially the first U.S. athlete in Nordic skiing to earn an Olympic gold medal. Four time Olympian Johnny Spillane ended an 86-year drought and became the first American to earn a Nordic combined medal ever, going on to collect three silvers in the 2010 games.

Todd Lodwick is a five-time Olympian who held the torch for the U.S. in Nordic combined for many years before finding his teammates in Billy and Johnny. He came out of retirement, got re-energized, and redefined the idea of U.S. success in Nordic Combined.

Bryan Fletcher, best U.S. Nordic Combined skier in the Overall last season, told his story of being diagnosed with leukemia when he was four and suffering through seven years of chemo to become stronger because of his love for jumping and then Nordic skiing. Bryan has been involved in multiple projects raising over a million dollars to help the fight against cancer.

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Together they told their stories about overcoming obstacles, illness and injuries. They told of sweat, both training individually and as a team, and tears through the years searching for the right combination of people and timing. When they found each other, they learned to enjoy what they were doing even more.

Todd Lodwick told Fraser Elementary kids, “The one word I don’t see around the walls of your gym is FUN. You got to have FUN.” And that became a key to their success.

The athletes told kids to dream. Set their goals high. Shoot for the moon. A few athletes make it big but it takes long, hard work to make their dreams a reality.

Billy emphasized, “Enjoy what you do. When you become real friends with the people you work with, your teammates become your family and together you work toward your goals. You feed on each other.”

It was truly inspirational. And these guys were regular people like you and me who have special talent. Other people recognized that spark and believed in these guys to help them along their way. They were driven to perfection and wanted that top spot, to be the best in the world.

Grand welcome

At each school, kids and coaches were the welcoming committee and introduced the athletes to their peers. At Fraser Elementary, we had national junior champion in halfpipe, Lydia Silber, National Junior Freestyle champion in Halfpipe and Slopeside Svea Irving, and Colorado Junior Biathlon champion Will Cleveland pose for pictures with the Olympic Medalists. All won their respective age groups.

At the Middle School, the Athletes were met by top members of the Nordic Team and introduced by Simon Zink to the student body. At the high school, top local Nordic racers escorted the team to the assembly and Samantha Berggren, state champion for both Skate and Classic, introduced the medalists to students, faculty, and families that lined the room.

The athletes shared a pair of jump skis about 270 cm long that equaled the world record high jump. Kids got to lift these huge lightweight 5- to 6-inch wide boards and feel the flexible leather boots. At each school, some lucky kid got to try on Johnny’s jumpsuit, much to the delight of his peers. Best of all, kids and parents alike got to feel the weight and see the gleam of gold and silver in those incredible medals. Just to hold one of them gives you the feeling of power.

At the high school reception, the Catering Class showed off some of their best appetizers with delectable chocolate covered strawberry and mouthwatering herbed tomatoes that were to die for. People rubbed shoulders with the guys and cameras flashed. The athletes got writer’s cramp from signing autographs. At the end of an awe-inspiring talk and lots of questions directed at the Athletes, several lucky people took home Olympic team headbands, a hat, and even a team fleece jacket and a pair of Johnny Spillane’s Nordic skate skis. It was a day for the kids and their families and what an incredible day it was.

At each school, the fellows who had been there and done that, had been past Olympians and who had returned to coach this next generation, watched on in approval and contributed as the wise sages they are. Bruce Cranmer, in his 11th season as head Nordic coach for the CU Buffaloes, showed off the 2010 NCAA National Skiing Championship trophy for a season dedicated to local CU skier Spencer Nelson who died last August in a climbing accident in the Maroon Bells. Landis Arnold placed at various U.S. Championships and World Winter University games and worked with the Winter Park Ski Jumping program. Todd Wilson, who attended school at Fraser elementary, was on the U.S. Nordic team for nine years and a two time Olympian. In 2000, he became the program director and Nordic facilities manager of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, overseeing a staff of more than 35 coaches and training more than 275 athletes yearly.

Together they all make the past, present and future of the sport. And we are blessed to have them all in Grand County, a place where Nordic skiing and jumping has deep roots.

Was all the effort that had gone into planning these magic moments worth it? You betcha! I have worked as a travel agent with these athletes and more on teams over the last 25 years. They have incredible stories worth telling. I am glad I could organize bringing these wonderful people to Grand County.

And the inspiration for it all was my son Tim Rau, the well-known local youth who died rowing his raft on the Colorado River in 2009. He inspired so many from his wheelchair for his tenacity, kindness and go-for-it attitude. Tim probably watched from above with a huge, ear-to-ear grin on his face and echoed Todd Lodwick’s words – let’s have some fun!

Enjoy mud season and we’ll be back with the trails corner in May.

Diana Lynn Rau is Grand Nordic president

On April 18, Grand County schools were spellbound by four Nordic Combined guys who really are the best of the best, earning gold and silver at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Four time Olympian Billy Demong is officially the first U.S. athlete in Nordic skiing to earn an Olympic gold medal. Four time Olympian Johnny Spillane ended an 86-year drought and became the first American to earn a Nordic combined medal ever, going on to collect three silvers in the 2010 games.

Todd Lodwick is a five-time Olympian who held the torch for the U.S. in Nordic combined for many years before finding his teammates in Billy and Johnny. He came out of retirement, got re-energized, and redefined the idea of U.S. success in Nordic Combined.

Bryan Fletcher, best U.S. Nordic Combined skier in the Overall last season, told his story of being diagnosed with leukemia when he was four and suffering through seven years of chemo to become stronger because of his love for jumping and then Nordic skiing. Bryan has been involved in multiple projects raising over a million dollars to help the fight against cancer.

Together they told their stories about overcoming obstacles, illness and injuries. They told of sweat, both training individually and as a team, and tears through the years searching for the right combination of people and timing. When they found each other, they learned to enjoy what they were doing even more.

Todd Lodwick told Fraser Elementary kids, “The one word I don’t see around the walls of your gym is FUN. You got to have FUN.” And that became a key to their success.

The athletes told kids to dream. Set their goals high. Shoot for the moon. A few athletes make it big but it takes long, hard work to make their dreams a reality.

Billy emphasized, “Enjoy what you do. When you become real friends with the people you work with, your teammates become your family and together you work toward your goals. You feed on each other.”

It was truly inspirational. And these guys were regular people like you and me who have special talent. Other people recognized that spark and believed in these guys to help them along their way. They were driven to perfection and wanted that top spot, to be the best in the world.

Grand welcome

At each school, kids and coaches were the welcoming committee and introduced the athletes to their peers. At Fraser Elementary, we had national junior champion in halfpipe, Lydia Silber, National Junior Freestyle champion in Halfpipe and Slopeside Svea Irving, and Colorado Junior Biathlon champion Will Cleveland pose for pictures with the Olympic Medalists. All won their respective age groups.

At the Middle School, the Athletes were met by top members of the Nordic Team and introduced by Simon Zink to the student body. At the high school, top local Nordic racers escorted the team to the assembly and Samantha Berggren, state champion for both Skate and Classic, introduced the medalists to students, faculty, and families that lined the room.

The athletes shared a pair of jump skis about 270 cm long that equaled the world record high jump. Kids got to lift these huge lightweight 5- to 6-inch wide boards and feel the flexible leather boots. At each school, some lucky kid got to try on Johnny’s jumpsuit, much to the delight of his peers. Best of all, kids and parents alike got to feel the weight and see the gleam of gold and silver in those incredible medals. Just to hold one of them gives you the feeling of power.

At the high school reception, the Catering Class showed off some of their best appetizers with delectable chocolate covered strawberry and mouthwatering herbed tomatoes that were to die for. People rubbed shoulders with the guys and cameras flashed. The athletes got writer’s cramp from signing autographs. At the end of an awe-inspiring talk and lots of questions directed at the Athletes, several lucky people took home Olympic team headbands, a hat, and even a team fleece jacket and a pair of Johnny Spillane’s Nordic skate skis. It was a day for the kids and their families and what an incredible day it was.

At each school, the fellows who had been there and done that, had been past Olympians and who had returned to coach this next generation, watched on in approval and contributed as the wise sages they are. Bruce Cranmer, in his 11th season as head Nordic coach for the CU Buffaloes, showed off the 2010 NCAA National Skiing Championship trophy for a season dedicated to local CU skier Spencer Nelson who died last August in a climbing accident in the Maroon Bells. Landis Arnold placed at various U.S. Championships and World Winter University games and worked with the Winter Park Ski Jumping program. Todd Wilson, who attended school at Fraser elementary, was on the U.S. Nordic team for nine years and a two time Olympian. In 2000, he became the program director and Nordic facilities manager of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, overseeing a staff of more than 35 coaches and training more than 275 athletes yearly.

Together they all make the past, present and future of the sport. And we are blessed to have them all in Grand County, a place where Nordic skiing and jumping has deep roots.

Was all the effort that had gone into planning these magic moments worth it? You betcha! I have worked as a travel agent with these athletes and more on teams over the last 25 years. They have incredible stories worth telling. I am glad I could organize bringing these wonderful people to Grand County.

And the inspiration for it all was my son Tim Rau, the well-known local youth who died rowing his raft on the Colorado River in 2009. He inspired so many from his wheelchair for his tenacity, kindness and go-for-it attitude. Tim probably watched from above with a huge, ear-to-ear grin on his face and echoed Todd Lodwick’s words – let’s have some fun!

Enjoy mud season and we’ll be back with the trails corner in May.

Diana Lynn Rau is Grand Nordic president

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