03.02.10

Congratulations To Vermont Olympians

Mr. President, I rise today to congratulate the Vermonters who represented our country at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The Olympics were exciting.  I know that Marcelle and I watched hours and hours of them.  But we watched especially, obviously, when we saw some of these young Vermonters.

These athletes carry on a long tradition of Vermonters participating in the Winter Olympics.  Hundreds of Vermonters have competed in the 21 winter Olympiads. It is no secret that Vermont produces great winter sport athletes thanks to our northern climate, beautiful rugged terrain and a healthy sports industry.  After all, the first ski lift in the United States was a rope tow built in the town of Woodstock.  I remember what a thrill it was when then-President Gerald Ford told me that the first ski lift he was on was that ski lift in Woodstock.  It was a nice memory of a wonderful person, President Gerald Ford.

Thanks to Jake Burton Carpenter and his wife Donna, Vermont is the cradle of snowboarding, now a central Olympic event.  The Carpenters have worked so hard to make this a real winter sport and they have.  And our schools and ski areas have hosted dozens of international snowboarding, alpine, and nordic ski competitions.

Many Vermonters have medaled at the Winter Olympics over the years. These champions include alpine skier Andrea Meade Lawrence from Rutland who was the first American to win two gold medals in 1952, Brattleboro’s Bill Koch who was the first American nordic skier to medal in 1976, and alpine skier Barbara Ann Cochran, slalom gold medalist in 1972. 

The Cochran family is somewhat of an Olympic dynasty in its own right.  Barbara Ann’s sister Marilyn and brother Bob also competed in 1972 and her sister Lindy in 1976.  Bob's son Jim raced in Saturday's slalom at his second Olympics.  A member of his family is a member of my own staff and I cherish having him here.

There were eleven athletes in Vancouver this year who were born in Vermont or call Vermont home. Ten others attended high school or college in Vermont, and we like to take credit for them as well. And we are happy and proud to do that.

Raised in Vermont are snowboarders Kelly Clark from West Dover, Lindsey Jacobellis from Stratton, Hannah Teter from Belmont and Ross Powers from Londonderry; alpine skiers Jimmy Cochran from Richmond, Nolan Kasper from Warren, and Chelsea Marshall from Pittsfield; nordic skiers Andy Newell from Shaftsbury, Liz Stephen from East Montpelier, Caitlin Compton from Warren; and freestyle skier Hannah Kearney from Norwich.

Vermont’s colleges and universities, with a strong tradition of winter sports, have sent athletes, both in-state and out-of-state, to numerous games.  Jim Cochran is a UVM alum, along with biathlete Lowell Bailey, nordic skier Kris Freeman and hockey goalie Tim Thomas.  Nordic skiers Simi Hamilton and Garrott Kuzzy are Middlebury College graduates.

Vermont's ski academies, private high schools that are dedicated to winter sports training, attract hundreds of kids from out of state every year, and have produced hundreds of Olympians. Liz Stephen and Nolan Kasper skied at Vancouver and are graduates of Burke Mountain Academy, which was the first ski academy in the country, founded in 1970.  Other ski academy graduates competing in Vancouver are snowboarder Louie Vito who attended Stratton Mountain School along with Andy Newell and Ross Powers; freestyle skier Michael Morse of the Killington Mountain School; and biathlete Laura Spector and skiercross racers Paul Casey Puckett and Daron Rahlves who attended the Green Mountain Valley School along with Chelsea Marshall.  Jim Cochran represented the Mount Mansfield Winter Academy, and Kelly Clark the Mount Snow Academy.

Of course, all Vermonters want to give a special hearty congratulations to those whose efforts resulted in medals - Hannah Kearney won gold in the mogul competition.  I spoke with her the morning after, I told her I’d seen her great smile on television, she said, “I think it’s going to take forever to get that smile off my face”.  The New York Times had a wonderful article showing Marty Candon driving her through a parade in Norwich this past weekend.

Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark won silver and bronze in the snowboard halfpipe.  Our entire state is proud of your accomplishments on this international stage.

But I am proud of every Vermonter who was chosen for the Team. No matter what their results were, it has been a pleasure to watch them, and to feel the pride they had just to be there.  I know that each minute of competition we saw on television was preceded by hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and thousands of hours of training.  They have been great ambassadors for the United States.  They’ve also been fantastic role models to Vermont's children, and I’d say, congratulations to all of them.

Finally, I want to take a moment to recognize two Vermonters who missed competing in Vancouver because of serious head injuries.  Snowboarder Kevin Pearce of Norwich fell while training in Park City, Utah, on December 31st, and Cody Marshall, Chelsea’s brother, of Pittsfield, an alpine slalom racer, was injured last summer.  Both have come a long way since their injuries, but have difficult recoveries ahead of them.  I spoke with Kevin Pearce’s mother, Pia, and I know the whole family has come together for him, just as Cody Marshall’s family has come together for him.  So I wish them and their families well and want them to know that they are special inspirations to all of us.  They are in all our prayers and thoughts.

Vermont is a very small state, Mr. President, the second smallest in the country.  It’s almost like one big community in our sense of pride of these young people.

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693