STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — It started with ski jumper John Steele. He became the first Olympian from Steamboat Springs when he represented the United States at the 1932 Lake Placid Games.
Fast forward to 2022, and another ski jumper, Decker Dean – nicknamed the "The Flying Machine" – became the 100th Olympian from the Colorado mountain town. No U.S. town has more Olympic athletes.
Dean is one of 13 athletes with ties to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club who represented the United States and other countries at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
"It’s a dream of a lot of kids," said Sarah Floyd, the Winter Sports Club's executive director. "We’re in Olympian Hall. A lot of kids come in and look at it, and they kind of light a fire, a spark."
Olympian Hall features 100 flags with the names of the club's Olympians. Sometimes athletes stop by to see their name, or future Olympians dream of making it to the Games and hanging their own flag on the wall.
To qualify, an Olympian has to have trained or worked in the Winter Sports Club, lived in Steamboat during their Olympic career, called Steamboat Springs home for more than five years or currently live in Routt County.
Among the Class of 2022 is Jaelin Kauf, a freestyle skier who won a silver medal in moguls.
In addition to Dean and Kauf, the other Team USA Olympians are Robby Burns (snowboarding), Mick Dierdorff (snowboarding), Taylor Fletcher (Nordic combined), Olivia Giaccio (freestyle skiing), Taylor Gold (snowboarding), Jasper Good (Nordic combined) and Cody Winters (snowboarding).
Then there are the athletes representing other countries: Belle Brockhoff (Australia), Jaryyd Hughes (Australia), Vic Wild (Russia) and Ester Ledecka (Czech).
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