Antonio Olivero: In goodbye to Summit, finding the thread of your sports stories from the past 4 years
Sports illuminated the merit of Summit’s individual champions, achievers and redeemers in a divisive time
I’ve written thousands of articles, filmed hundreds of videos and hosted dozens of podcasts for the Summit Daily News since I drove my Honda Civic across the country to find a Rocky Mountain home at an old hunting cabin in Heeney.
But these past four years have not been about me. They’ve been about you — the people who make Summit County what it is.
This column is my goodbye from a job and life experience I consider a blessing. So let’s remember just a handful of stories I’m grateful to have told and learned from:
- Paul Kresge’s eternal influence to the Summit sailing community. Peter Clarke’s contributions as patriarch of the Gentlemen of the Blue Goose Rugby Club. Ella Hagen’s unbelievable running accomplishments at such a young age.
- Karl Barth’s spot already etched on the Summit High School sports Mount Rushmore with 13-straight girls rugby state championships. Chad Otterstrom’s ability to take terrain-park style to massive backcountry lines. Mike Webb and Sally Queen’s drive to bring vintage baseball to Summit County.
- Chris Waker’s mission to live his best life after suffering a snowboarding accident that left him paralyzed. Lasse Konecny’s inspiring 2021 Breck Epic ride at just 17 years old. John Spriggs’ strength to make a ski film after losing a friend in an avalanche.
- Daniel Gale’s visionary drive to bring skateboarding to the Paralympics. His close friend Mike Minor’s X Games and Paralympic medals despite missing half his arm. Amy Purdy’s Paralympic example, even with two below-the-knee amputations.
- Ram Mikulas and Joe Howdyshell’s pioneering work to help ski mountaineering become an Olympic dream for local kids. Olof Hedberg’s leadership of the Summit Nordic Ski Club after his friend and fellow coach Hannah Taylor died tragically in the Gore Range. Charlie Martin’s ambition to launch adaptive paragliding.
- Jeff Westcott’s lifelong commitment to provide average Joes and Jills with truly special local events. Grace Staberg’s drive to do it all. Summit football coaches James Wagner and Rob Gannon giving their Tigers the coolest summer workout experience ever: practicing with Andrew Luck and Clayton Kershaw.
- Chris Corning’s multiple Crystal Globes and snowboard big air success as “Mister 1800.” Red Gerard’s stomp heard round the world for an Olympic gold medal. Bruce Stott skijoring to titles in Leadville “like liquid silk.”
- Josh Barilar, Zach Ryan and their buddies’ mission to revive Breckenridge’s Fourth of July Bowl tradition. Pat Goodnough’s determination to ski the wildest features. His close ski buddy Trent Jones’ connection to his late father via the Blue River.
- And, maybe my personal favorite: Summit Clark’s Special Olympic spirit.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the stories I’m proud to have shared. There’s many more that could also be listed above.
When thinking back through your stories, the thread I appreciate most is this: With each story, we humanized the people at the story’s core.
Why do I feel that’s so important? Because I think we are living in a time of divisive, destructive and depressing dehumanization. It’s a time of what I call “othering.” It’s the antithesis of America.
Sports does such a good job of providing the antidote to othering because it judges all of you — all of us — based on merit. That’s it. No superficial qualities or immutable characteristics used to preexamine or post-judge people and their accomplishments.
It’s just the individual. In each story, we celebrated him or her for being divine in their own right — whether a champion, achiever or redeemer.
They are all creators in the real world, not complainers in the online world.
When we told the stories of the special sports people in this county, it didn’t matter if they were lifelong locals or just got here. It didn’t matter if they voted for Biden or Trump. It didn’t matter if they were vaccinated or unvaccinated. It didn’t matter how much privilege they do or don’t possess. It didn’t matter how light or dark their skin tone. It didn’t matter if they chose to wear a mask or not. It didn’t matter if they were a boomer living in a second home or a millenial living in a van.
And because none of that mattered, they mattered. All of them — all of you — the people.
Antonio Olivero was the sports and outdoors editor for the Summit Daily News for four years. You can read these and other stories by Olivero at SummitDaily.com/profile/antonio-olivero.
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