Tahoe Olympians makes hometown fans proud
March 3, 2010
If Lake Tahoe were its own nation, its winter sports fans could boast about winning more Olympic medals than Australia, Belarus and Great Britain in 2010.
The 10 Olympians from the Lake Tahoe area brought home four medals from the Vancouver Olympic Games and#8212; three silver and one bronze and#8212; while their countrymen cleaned up with 37 total medals to runner-up Germany’s 30.
On the first full day of competition, defending U.S. dual moguls champ Shannon Bahrke made her hometown of Tahoe City proud with a solid performance worthy of a bronze medal in the women’s moguls final. It was a fitting way to go out, as Bahrke, already a silver medalist from 2002, said she plans to retire after this season.
and#8220;This is the last hurrah,and#8221; said Bahrke, who has plans to get married on 10/10/10. and#8220;What a way to finish it.and#8221;
Already in Vancouver to root on his sister, Bahrke’s younger brother Scotty, an aerialist who narrowly missed the cut to compete in the Games, got in on the Olympic action when a teammate was sidelined with complications from an appendectomy. Although Scotty struggled with his landings in qualifying and did not advance to the finals, the Olympic experience was priceless, nonetheless.
Four days after Shannon Bahrke’s bronze, Squaw Valley skier Julia Mancuso delivered with a silver medal in the women’s downhill, then added another silver in the super-combined the following day. Mancuso’s back-to-back silvers and#8212; she earned gold in the giant slalom four years ago but has struggled the past two seasons and#8212; prove she’s one of the notable big-race skiers in Olympic history.
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Entering the Games, however, it was her teammate, Lindsey Vonn, who drew most of the media attention in the midst of her stellar World Cup campaign. But while Mancuso’s dual silvers may have come as a surprise to some, Mancuso was confident as ever in her ability under such pressure.
and#8220;I’ve always just known that I would get a medal here,and#8221; Mancuso said. and#8220;I love the Olympics. My big goals have always been in the Olympics. I’ve just stayed really positive, and just really believed, no matter what is going on around me, just knowing that I have the ability to be on the podium.and#8221;
Mancuso would go on to finish eighth in the giant slalom. She skipped the slalom, which she considers her weakest event.
U.S. Alpine teammate Stacey Cook of Truckee, meanwhile, recorded a quality finish in the women’s downhill as well, as she placed 11th on a difficult course that saw several of the top racers crash. And that was after Cook went down hard in a training wreck on the Olympic course.
With three medals already in the bag for North Tahoe athletes, South Lake Tahoe snowboarder Hannah Teter won a fourth the same evening as Mancuso’s super-combined, on Feb. 18. Teter, who won halfpipe gold in 2006, added a silver to her collection with a runner-up finish to Australian Torah Bright and#8212; one of Australia’s three medals.
Northstar-sponsored rider Elena Hight of South Lake Tahoe finished 10th in the women’s halfpipe finals.
Always one to perform in the clutch, Squaw Valley snowboarder Nate Holland nearly brought home a medal in the men’s snowboard cross and#8212; an event he has dominated in Winter X Games competitions. Holland marched through the qualifying rounds and was in silver-medal position in the final when things went wrong. He hit a rut, spun out and found himself in the back of the pack, where he finished fourth.
But that’s just snowboard cross, said Holland, who added that he had no regrets about his go-for-broke racing style.
and#8220;I definitely ride on that razor’s edge. That’s my style, except today it just didn’t pay off,and#8221; he said after the race. and#8220;I was fighting for a gold medal there and setting up the pass and just hit a hole that I didn’t see.and#8221;
In a related event, the Olympic debut of ski cross, Truckee had two athletes representing two different nations in Daron Rahlves, who represented the USA, and Errol Kerr, who skied for Jamaica. Kerr would finish ninth while Rahlves crashed in an early qualifying round, ending his Olympic career after competing in four Winter Games and#8212; three on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team.
Last but not least, Squaw Valley skier Marco Sullivan had disappointing results, as he crashed in the men’s downhill and finished 23rd in the super G.
All told, it was an impressive showing from the Tahoe athletes. Time will tell if they can top that mark in 2014.
and#8212;-Sylas Wright is the sports editor for the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers.