Steamboat’s Olympic History


img_7346Howelsen Hill

Howelen Hill is located across the Yampa River from downtown Steamboat Springs.  It is owned and operated by the City of Steamboat and is one of the country’s oldest ski areas.   It is the only ski area listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Places.  Over the years, nearly seventy Winter Olympians have trained on its slopes and jumps.

Skiing began as a necessity in Steamboat Springs as a way for people to get around in snowy winters.  In 1914 skiing became recreation when Carl Howelsen (born as Karl Hovelsen in Norway) organized the first Winter Carnival in Steamboat.   The event was held on Woodchuck Hill, now the site of Colorado Mountain College.  The carnival featured the town’s first competitive skiing events, a ski jumping competition and cross-country ski races.   The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club was founded to plan and promote the carnival.  It was the first winter sports club in the West.


No other town in North America has produced more Winter Olympians than Steamboat Springs, with a record of 79 and counting!

Steamboat and the Winter Games

  • Steamboat’s Olympic Tradition started in 1932 with John Steele.
  • Olympians with ties to Steamboat have represented eleven different country/territories: Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Slovakia and the United States.
  • American firsts were Billy Kidd in Alpine for the America men; Dunn in snowboarding for the American women; Spillane in Nordic Combined; and Demong had the first gold in Nordic Combined.
  • Todd Lodwick became Steamboat’s first five-time Olympian.  Ann Battelle, Johnny Spillane and Bill Demong are four-time Olympians.
  • Steamboat Olympian Johnny Spillane became the first American to win an Olympic medal in the sport of Nordic Combined at the 2010 Games.  In fact, Spillane brought home a silver medal in all three Nordic Combined events.
  • Nine atheletes have reached the pinnacle of the Winter Games, winning a medal: Bill Demong,2010 Gold and Silver; Deb Armstrong, 1988 Gold; Johnny Spillane, 2010 Silver (3x); Todd Lodwick, 2010 Silver; Brett Camerota, 2010 Silver; Travis Mayer, 2002 Silver, Billy Kidd, 1964 Silver, Shannon Dunn-Downing-1998 Bronze; and Nelson Carmichael, 1992 Bronze.