Sun Valley Snowboarder Grabs Olympic Gold In Sochi
By Tom Banse
A snowboarder raised in Sun Valley (Idaho) soared over better known and more experienced rivals to grab the gold medal in women's halfpipe at the Winter Olympics. You could say a pipe dream came true Wednesday for 24-year-old Kaitlyn Farrington.
The Olympic snowboard showdown played 'live' on a big TV screen in the training room of the Sun Valley ski and snowboard team. Ski education foundation director Rob Clayton says work stopped. There was excited tension. Then what Clayton calls "almost shock and disbelief" when Kaitlyn Farrington rode into first place. When no one could top her clean, daredevil run, Farrington's infectious smile grew wider and she started bouncing with joy on screen. Back home, Clayton says the training room erupted in giddy celebration.
Rob Clayton: "It's gotta be one of the best stories in the Olympics, right? Where she's from, what her parents sacrificed along the way to give her the opportunities. Her down-home, genuine personality. The whole thing is just a terrific story."
Farrington grew up on a ranch on the outskirts of Bellevue, Idaho. She learned to snowboard beginning at age five and has had five wrist surgeries since then.
A few years ago when she was still a rookie, Farrington described to me how the ranch's cattle herd shrunk to pay her way to national and international competitions.
Kaitlyn Farrington: “When I first started to go on trips and stuff it was expensive. My dad ended selling a cow each time I had to go on a trip. We don’t have any cows at the moment I don't think because my dad had to sell them all so I could snowboard."
The Sun Valley Company and others have already begun planning a gold medal homecoming parade for whenever Farrington returns to Idaho.