Fans go far for favorite ski racers
Vail CO, Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, COLORADO ” Wearing a green hat saying “Marco Rocks” and large white sunglasses, Chelsea Robinson sticks out.
In the past, Robinson and other fans of her brother, ski racer Marco Sullivan, have held signs saying, “Marco is God” and “We love Marco.”
“We try to embarrass Marco any way we can,” said Robinson, of Jackson, Wyo.
Like Robinson, friends, family and fans showed up to see their favorite racers at Birds of Prey super combined downhill Thursday. They furiously rang cowbells, clapped and waved large American and Austrian flags as their favorite ski racers skidded to a stop at the end of their runs.
About 500 Eagle County elementary school students wore black hats embroidered with “2013.” That’s when Beaver Creek hopes it will host its third World Alpine Ski Championships if its bid is approved.
The young students seemed to be the most fervent fans.
“It’s really nice to make it to the finish line and everybody’s screaming,” Austrian ski racer Alexander Koll said. “So it’s really interesting to ski here.”
Perhaps the greatest fans are the ski racers’ mothers.
Cyndi Sharp said her son Ted Ligety did not do as well as he could have in the downhill. But she’s always proud of him, whether he’s “4 years old in a soccer match or out skiing,” she said.
Becky Nyman, mother of skier racer Steven Nyman, often holds onto her seat out of nervousness and has to remind herself to breathe when her son flies down the hill.
“It’s not so much that I’m afraid he’s going to crash,” said Becky Nyman, of Provo, Utah. “I just want him to do really well.”
Steven Nyman came in second in the downhill portion of the race, but fell during the slalom.
Brian McQuay and several other fans wore white T-shirts saying “Believe in Steven.” McQuay clasped his hands and smiled as he watched Steven Nyman make good time down the course.
McQuay, a friend of Nyman’s, once was watching him race at Mammoth lakes when McQuay realized he forgot his ski boots. Nyman carried McQuay on his back while skiing down the slopes.
“That’s the only time I’ve skied with Steven,” he said.
Caroline Scanlon made the 24-hour flight from Austria to see her boyfriend, Koll, race.
“It’s a good opportunity, we’ve never been in Colorado,” she said.
For many friends and families of American racers, the Birds of Prey was their only chance to watch World Cup skiing in person. The race is the only men’s race on the World Cup circuit in the United States.
That’s why many fans drove hundreds of miles to see the race.
Some of Sullivan’s fans began their drive from Jackson about 2 a.m. Thursday because they did not want to spend the money to stay in the Vail Valley an extra night, Robinson said.
“It’s the only time we can see him live,” Robinson said. “All the rest of the time we’re watching him on TV.”
Sullivan’s fans planned to create 24 signs Thursday night for upcoming races, she said. And they plan to bring seven air horns.
“There’s going to be 40 of us,” Robinson said.
After the race Thursday, Robinson called her brother over to the group of Sullivan’s fans, some of whom were sipping cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer ” “Team Marco is definitely fueled by PBR,” Robinson’s husband, Trevor Robinson said.
“Sometimes it might be a little embarrassing, but I know they’re just there to support me,” Sullivan said. “I love to ski fast in front of my family.”
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.
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