Colorado athletes were literally at the forefront of the opening ceremonies for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, with many in attendance and Steamboat’s Todd Lodwick leading the way into Fisht Stadium as the flag-bearer.
Lodwick, a Nordic combined silver medalist from the 2010 Olympics, is the first American to compete in six Winter Olympic Games. In all, Team USA’s 230 athletes is the largest to ever participate in any Winter Olympics.
Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck, a freeskier who trains with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, was blown away by the experience.
“I have never felt so good to represent America than tonight [Friday] at the Opening Ceremony!” Blunck said. “That was insane! Go USA!”
Snowboarding siblings Arielle and Taylor Gold, of Steamboat Springs, were equally fired up.
“That was definitely one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done,” Arielle said. “I think the fact that I’m at the Olympics has finally set in.”
“Walking into the stadium is a crazy and powerful experience,” Taylor added. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen – as clichéd as it sounds. There’s no other way of putting it.”
Vail’s Heidi Kloser, who tore knee ligaments and fractured her femur in a training run for moguls qualifying on Thursday, was able to join the U.S. Olympic Team for the opening ceremonies. Kloser was a serious medal contender after a World Cup podium in December and a fourth-place overall position on the World Cup tour.
“To see Heidi walk up the ramp in the middle of the arena following the American flag and keeping pace with everyone else was so incredible,” Heidi’s mother Emily wrote on Facebook.