The Winter Olympics have always had a connection with Lake Tahoe, the most prominent being the fact that the Olympics were actually held in Lake Tahoe at Squaw Valley in 1960. The rings and the flags still adorn the entrance to Squaw Valley.
It makes sense, Lake Tahoe has a winter centric lifestyle. Skiing and snowboarding are extremely close at hand, basically in the middle of town. The California Base Lodge of Heavenly Ski Resort sits at the top of one of the city streets. The rest of the dozen or so ski resorts around the basin might be a bit further, but not by much. Homewood Ski Resort is on the main road on the west shore. So it’s not like many sports, where athletes have to get up in the dead of night and drive for hours to practice their sport. In Tahoe, if you live here, you are surrounded by the ski/snowboard culture. Even the public schools get in the act. Every February is ski week which is set aside for the school kids to descend on the ski resorts for lessons. And many of those kids grow up through the system, enter into competitions, and race their way through junior high and high school. One of my young neighbors got her driver’s license and won a spot on the Junior Olympic Ski Team all in the same month. What a great way to celebrate your 16th birthday.
So it’s no surprise that all this ski, riding, culture turns out Olympic athletes. While some grow up here, others come for the training and never leave, so we’ll include them as part of the family. In 2010 for the Vancouver games, 9 came from Lake Tahoe. This year, for the Sochi games, 12 are coming from Lake Tahoe, with others coming from Reno and Mammoth Lakes, just a few hours down the road.
The most well-known skier is Julia Mancuso from Squaw Valley. This is her third Olympics so she has the most experience. She’s also the first U.S. woman to win 3 medals in skiing. This year, you can watch her in the giant slalom, downhill, and combined.
Of course, the biggest name in snowboarding is Shaun White who trains at Northstar. Having watched ‘the flying tomato’ two winter Olympics ago in Torino, it’s fun to see how he’s grown, now taller with shorter hair.
Someone I expect to medal and become as well known as Julia and Shaun, is Jamie Anderson. She’s from South Lake Tahoe. I watched her last night in the snowboard slopestyle competition. She flies high and deep, and makes it all look effortless.
Also from the south shore, is Maddie Bowman who will compete in freestyle skiing. Hannah Teter and Elena Hight are both snowboarders from the south shore. While we have known these two hot shots over the years, the world gets to see them now. Marco Sullivan, a ski racer from Trucke; Mark Hoyt, a snowboarder from Sierra-at-Tahoe; Chas Guldemond, snowboarder, David Wise and Tim Jitloff both skiers, all from Reno; Travis Ganong, a racer from Squaw Valley, plus all the others. We’re all proud of you and we’ll be watching, sending you our best as you compete on the world’s largest sports stage.