South Lake Tahoe unveils statue honoring Olympians
Champions Plaza in South Lake Tahoe has a new focal point: an 11-foot bronze sculpture inspired by local Olympic athletes.
“Spirit of Competition,” created by Montana-based artist Gareth Curtiss, was unveiled on Friday during a ceremony at Champions Plaza.
“This sculpture is about fire,” said Curtiss at the unveiling. “It’s about the spirit of competition. It’s about that which is inside you that makes you reach out and achieve.”
The sculpture depicts three figures emerging from flames as they reach for a ring.
A selection committee, with input from local art teachers, artists and others in the industry, chose Curtiss’ “Spirit of Competition” from 10 submitted proposals.
Originally the statue depicted three figures intended to be gender-neutral “elemental spirits.” However, following public criticism — including from Olympic snowboarder and Lake Tahoe native Jamie Anderson — Curtiss incorporated a female figure.
Olympic snowboarder Hannah Teter and former Olympic skier Travis Cabral — now a South Lake Tahoe police officer — helped unveil the statue to the crowd gathered at Champions Plaza.
“This isn’t about me. This isn’t about all the athletes that are dedicated here as much as it is about everyone here that supports community, that supports athletes growing up in the community — past athletes, present athletes and future athletes,” said Cabral. “I think this being in the central location that it is is a great reminder to all of us that we have a future in our community that we need to support to allow young athletes to have that fire in them.”
“I am totally blown away by this,” added Teter.
Champions Plaza, located on the corner of U.S. 50 and Lakeview Avenue across from Lakeview Commons, was approved by City Council after the 2014 Winter Olympics where several local athletes earned Olympic medals.
The statue cost the city $75,000 and is part of a push to incorporate more public art.
Next spring, a band of cement crossing the plaza will be replaced with plaques commemorating local Olympic, national and world athletes.