Our View: Winter Games offer cause for celebration

Our View
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Although the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are in Vancouver, there’s plenty to celebrate locally. Olympic athletes and coaches with Auburn and Placer County ties are excelling in The Games. Local ski racer Julia Mancuso has rocketed to two wins so far in downhill and super combined. There is a celebration planned Sunday in Squaw Valley, where the 25-year-old grew up and trained. When added to her 2006 gold medal giant slalom performance in Turin, that makes Mancuso the most decorated female U.S. Olympic ski racer in history. And she still has the giant slalom coming up today. Mancuso is not alone. Tahoe City’s Shannon Bahrke won a bronze in the Olympic freestyle moguls event last week. Bahrke also trains at Placer County ski resorts, and is a member of the Squaw Valley freestyle team. Bahrke won her Olympic medal on Moment skis, which are made by a fast-growing Reno-based company led in part by Placer High School graduates. On the Olympic slopes, but behind the scenes, former Placer High skiing champion Seth McCadam is coaching Mancuso, downhill gold-medal winner Lindsey Vonn and other American women on the U.S. team, which is the best in the world. McCadam credits Auburn natives Bill Clark and Ryan Rodarte of the Auburn Ski Club with helping to guide him in his athletic pursuits. Clark is the general manager of Auburn Ski Club and Rodarte coaches the club’s highest-level athletes along with the Sierra College team and some Placer High ski racers. Winter Olympians Daron Rahlves, Stacey Cook, Scotty Bahrke and other North Tahoe-area athletes have also valiantly competed in the Vancouver Games. And this wintertime athletic prowess has been going on for decades. Ski jumper Roy Mikkelsen was the pride of Auburn in the 1930s, competing in both the 1932 and 1936 Winter Olympics. Mikkelsen worked for legendary Auburn ski pioneer Wendell Robie at his Auburn Lumber Co. Mikkelsen later captained the U.S. ski-jumping team. A statue of Mikkelsen ski jumping, in all his glory, can be found at nearby Boreal Mountain Resort. Auburn’s fastest man on skis ever is Jeff Hamilton, who earned a bronze medal in speed skiing at the 1992 Albertville Games. The Auburn born-and-raised favorite son was the first man to break the 150 mph barrier on skis. Auburn is the Gateway to the Sierra. The North Lake Tahoe area features some of the best ski resorts on the planet. The Vancouver Winter Games remind us of what a rich Olympic history we have in our own region. Local Assemblyman Ted Gaines flew to Vancouver last week to enjoy the Winter Games with his daughters. He was lucky enough to get tickets to the freestyle moguls competition. Gaines is a member of the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition, which seeks to bring the Olympics back to Placer County, which hosted the 1960 festivities at Squaw Valley. The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of athletic achievement. But even more, they remind us that athletes from around the globe have more in common than we sometimes recognize. Coming together in this worldwide winter spectacle is an awesome achievement. Let’s recognize and celebrate our local Olympic athletes and coaches, both past and present, who have performed so well on the world stage. And even though 2022 might seem like a long way away, the effort to the return The Games to Lake Tahoe is worthwhile and deserves our support. USA. USA. USA!