VAIL — As scores of cheering kids wished farewell to a few of their idols Saturday, they also met a couple new characters to get excited about.
Vail’s send-off to our local Olympians doubled as an introductory ceremony for the official mascots of the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships and snowy skies provided the perfect backdrop to keep the crowd excited about being in Vail.
Former and current Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes Chris Del Bosco, Annalisa Drew and Aaron Blunck were honored on stage at Solaris Plaza, along with eight other athletes from the Club who were not there in person but will compete at the Winter Olympics.
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Executive Director Aldo Radamus said it was an honor to see so many athletes from his program celebrated.
“Eleven athletes is a new record, for sure,” he said.
Former Olympians and local residents Sarah Schleper and Cindy Nelson greeted the athletes on stage.
“We wish all the athletes representing the United States, and especially those to come out of Vail Ski Club, the very best of luck. Go, U.S.A.!” Nelson said, which brought on a good-natured chuckle from Chris Del Bosco, an Eagle-Vail native who competes for Canada.
“That’s what it’s all about, so it’s all good,” Del Bosco replied with a smile, using a very Canadian accent for his pronunciation of the word “about.”
PETE AND EARL
Meanwhile, traveling down Meadow Drive in a Vail firetruck were the new mascots of the 2015 Championships.
Pete, a giant stuffed mountain lion, and Earl, a big, cuddly raccoon, were escorted into Solaris Plaza by the Vail Fire Department, and the plaza was officially rededicated as “Championships Plaza,” which will be the hosting site of the official medals presentations during the 2015 World Championships, along with nightly free concerts.
“The foundation, all the folks who have been getting ready and putting together the 2015 Championships, put a lot of thought into what our mascots should be this year,” said announcer Brian Hall. “They always have to have some purpose and meaning that really pull things together and that they can kind of symbolize. This year were honoring a couple of folks who were really instrumental in creating Vail, who had the dream of creating Vail and Beaver Creek – Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton. So these mascots are in honor of them.”