Going to the games

Friends, family and fans of Olympic athletes find that getting to Park City can be difficult even if you're not competing

When Shannon Dunn competes in the snowboarding halfpipe in next month's Winter Olympics in Park City, Utah, she'll have a crowd of about 10 family members cheering her on.

It's a far cry from 1998, when Dunn found out she qualified for the Olympics only a week before the games.

"This was much easier for her," said Joyce Dunn, Shannon's mother. "The last time it was so stressful because the snowboarding community wasn't sure the Olympics was something it wanted to be a part of. And it was so late when she found out that she was going. It was just kind of hectic."

Joyce Dunn stayed behind in 1998, while Shannon's father, Jerry, and brother, Sean, made the trip from Steamboat Springs to Japan and saw Shannon win a bronze medal, only the second medal a Steamboat athlete has won at the Olympics.

This time, Joyce Dunn will get to see her daughter compete at the Olympics. Jerry Dunn reserved a condominium next to the halfpipe in Park City more than a year ago.

"You think he was confident she was going to make it?" Joyce Dunn asked.

Joyce Dunn said she usually has difficulty watching her daughter compete. Often, she will stay at the lodge or leave the venue when Shannon is competing because it makes her nervous. But she plans to try to relax and enjoy the Olympics. She said Shannon, who has been tabbed by many as one of America's best hopes to win a gold medal, doesn't feel any extra pressure so neither does the rest of the family.

"When you are in that kind of small circle of people who you deal with and compete against every day like Shannon is, you don't know the rest of the world expects you to win a medal," Joyce said.

"As for the family, it's a big deal for us, but I've told them all we're going to be there to enjoy the Olympics and whatever happens, happens. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity regardless of how Shannon finishes."

The Dunns are just one of dozens of families making the trek from Ski Town USA to Utah for the Olympics.

Sanse Berry and her family still were fervently searching for Olympics tickets last week. "My husband, Scott, is trying to get some but he either isn't having any luck or isn't getting the ones he wants," Berry said.

Scott Berry was on the 1972 Olympic ski jumping team and the Berrys' son, Paul, 13, is on the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic combined team. The family is hoping to see all of the Nordic combined events, which are spread across a week at the Olympics.

Tickets for the Nordic combined, which involves ski jumping and cross country skiing, are difficult to acquire, particularly tickets to the jumping half.

Tom Schwall and Julie Green won't have any problem getting in to see the ski jumping. Not only is their son, 18-year-old Tommy Schwall, a member of the special jumping team at the Olympics, both will work the Olympics as ski jumping markers.

Susan Solomon of Steamboat Springs acquired her ski jumping tickets well in advance.

Solomon received her tickets through an online lottery last year. When she found out she was a winner, she began searching for places to stay and reserved a 12-bed condominium July 23.

Solomon secured the condominium near Park City's Utah Olympic Park for nine days with plans to fill the beds with other Steamboat residents attending the Olympics. Family and friends will rent beds in the condo on various nights during the two weeks of the games.

"I'm kind of nervous I'm not going to fill it up," Solomon said.

Like the Dunns and Solomon, Schwall said his family will stay in a rented townhome near the park also.

Schwall bought tickets about a year ago but just received them in the mail last week. Tickets ran Schwall anywhere from $35 for the men's luge to $190 for the 120K ski jumping finals.

"What I've heard is there has not been an increase in price" since last year, Schwall said.

Schwall will be in Salt Lake City for the entire period of the games.

"This is the first (Olympics)," Schwall said. "I think it will be a real positive experience. I'm looking forward to it."

Solomon said she plans to attend ski jumping, cross country events, the biathlon, bobsledding and Nordic combined. She and her family will stay in Salt Lake City from Feb. 13-22.

Sanse Berry said if the family gets tickets, they will be able to stay with friends.

Berry said she would love to see women's cross country, Nordic combined, ski jumping and the biathlon. "Ice skating is impossible to get tickets to but I would really like to see that," Berry said.

Joyce Dunn said her family will also try to take in some other events besides the halfpipe, though they don't have tickets or specific plans yet.

One thing the Dunns do have tickets to the opening ceremonies on Feb. 8. Joyce Dunn said she is looking forward to that almost as much as the halfpipe, especially because she won't have to be nervous about how her daughter is competing.

"We really want to go downtown and see the headquarters and stuff and we've got tickets for the opening ceremonies," Joyce Dunn said.

"That I'm really looking forward to. I've always wanted to go to that. It just looks like a neat experience."

To reach Kelly Silva call 871-4204

or e-mail ksilva@steamboatpilot.com

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