Northstar firefighters burn up the snow |

Northstar firefighters burn up the snow

The Northstar Fire Department made up for its 20-year stint of not competing in the California Fire/Police Winter Olympics by bringing home 17 medals from this year’s event.

Held at Mammoth Mountain March 13-17, the California Fire/Police Winter Olympics pits state police and fire department skiers and snowboarders against one another in events such as giant slalom, slalom, super g, dual slalom, boarder/skier X, halfpipe and cross country ski racing.

Representing the Northstar Fire Department, which was the only Tahoe-area team there, was captain-paramedic Andy Ham, engineer-EMT Tim Farrell, firefighter-paramedic Bryan Howell and firefighter-EMT Jimmy Haden. In all, the four of them earned seven gold medals, two silver and eight bronze.

Haden, the only skier of the Northstar crew, was the standout. He earned two trophies, one by winning the six-kilometer cross country ski race and the other by being the highest overall medal winner, with a total of five.

Ham, a 30-year-old snowboarder, said the competition was a blast.

“We had a great time competing down there,” said Ham, who earned four bronze medals for his team. “The atmosphere was fun. It was real competitive.”

In all, Ham said, 110 individuals and seven teams competed ” four teams from the Los Angeles Police Department, one from the L.A. Fire Department, one from the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department and the Northstar team.

The Northstar gang tied for third place in the team competition, which simply added up points based on each of the four members’ medal totals.

Ham said although he was satisfied with the results, the Northstar team probably would have done better if it had practiced. The L.A.P.D. guys, for example, had race coaches on hand, taking air temperature samples and snow samples, Ham said.

“Next year we’re definitely going to get out there and do a little training,” Ham said.

Northstar-at-Tahoe in 2006 will be hosting the Firefighter World Games March 14-17, Ham said, where police are excluded and firefighters from all over the world are welcome.

“The challenge is on the table,” Ham said.

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