Eagle’s Jake Pates, Meghan Tierney get Olympic-sized sendoff from their hometown | VailDaily.com

Eagle’s Jake Pates, Meghan Tierney get Olympic-sized sendoff from their hometown

EAGLE — Jakes Pates and Meghan Tierney Day was so All American that if Norman Rockwell were still alive, he'd paint it.

Pates and Tierney are headed to this month's Winter Olympics as members of the U.S. snowboard team, two of 31 Coloradans competing in the Winter Olympics. Hundreds gathered in Eagle Town Park on Thursday, Feb. 1, for a send-off party and pep rally.

There were Jake and Meghan T-shirts, Jake hats emblazoned with "Jake 1260 Tail" for a snowboard trick he invented and even mittens that said "Go" on one and "Jake" on the other.

American flags were everywhere. The national anthem opened the American event, as it must. The Brush Creek Elementary School choir sang, and as "the home of the brave" echoed across the park, an airliner roared overhead in what we're calling a flyover and people chanted "USA, USA!"

On the way in, Jake, his family and coaches, Meghan's family and others ran a gauntlet of high-fives, another American invention.

"We are so incredibly proud to live in this town," said Amy Wheeler, Jake's mom.

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Inspiration all around

Pates attended Brush Creek Elementary School in Eagle and then Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy with Tierney and a bunch of other current and prospective Olympians.

"I couldn't have done this without all the support I've received," Jake said.

Jake was 8 years old when he became coach Tim Ward's first athlete. He was still 8 years old when coach Mya Wheeler gave him the Most Promising Award. Turns out his coaches were right about him.

"This is so inspiring for me. I feel like I'm on this Earth to inspire, so hopefully I'll go to South Korea and can inspire each and every one of you," Jake said.

J.P. Chizmadia is 5 years old and is already inspired.

"Jake Pates is the best in the WORLD … EVER!" J.P. said during Thursday's send-off.

Broken back can't stop Olympic drive

Chris and Sandy Tierney moved their family to the valley a few years back to train and attend Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.

"I am incredibly humbled by the love and support this entire town has given my family. It has felt like home from the first day we've been here," Chris said.

Meghan is in Park City, Utah, training and appeared by video for the party in Eagle.

"It's crazy. I'm so happy. I don't think it has really sunk in yet," Meghan said.

For months, she was closer to flat on her back than snowboarding flat out. She broke her back 13 months ago flying off a jump while training for the Europe Cup. A helicopter rushed her to a hospital in Austria. She downplays it now.

"It really wasn't the worst thing, besides missing a season. You have to take what you can in this sport. You know you're going to get hurt, so you can't be afraid," she said.

Meghan has two brothers who pushed her, and pushed the notion of fear right out of her, said Sandy Tierney, Meghan's mom.

Her nickname is Pit Bull, for obvious competitive reasons.

"She has the will and drive of a lion," Chris said.

Eagle's first Olympian

Jake and Meghan are Eagle's current Olympic heroes, but not its first. That honor goes to Glen Ewing, who competed in the biathlon for the 1980 U.S. Winter Olympic team. The town pitched in for him, too.

"The Lions Club sponsored a zillion spaghetti dinners to help me," Ewing told the enthusiastic crowd. "I'd also like to thank the Hozas, who put my name on the marquee outside the Nearly Everything Store. That's the pinnacle of success in Eagle, Colorado."

Any words of wisdom, Glen?

"Jake is 19 years old and has already competed in three World Championships. I was 29 before I accomplished that, so I'm not going to tell him anything about competition. I will say to both Jake and Meghan, don't get sick, and stay focused. The Olympics is a world-class event with world-class distractions."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.