Tahoe wins more “gold” than many countries at Sochi Winter Olympics: a boost for our outdoor lifestyle

We write about our Olympic Heritage and world-class winter lifestyle in our current winter issue, including the Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley in 1960. The details are here.

This year, at the Sochi Winter Games, Tahoe-based athletes won as many medals (4) as Great Britain (4) and Lativia (4) and more than Australia (3), Ukraine (2), Slovakia (1) and Croatia (1).

The region won as many gold medals as China (3) and Korea (3) and more than the Czech Republic (2), Japan (1) and Finland (1) — a real tribute to our outdoor lifestyle. The medal count is here.

David Wise, 23, who grew up skiing around Lake Tahoe, won a gold medal in men’s freestyle skiing halfpipe. “Growing up around Lake Tahoe has its advantages, especially if you’re David Wise,” as USFreeskiing.com. writes. “Cliff jumping, bouncing on the trampoline and mountain biking in the summer, plus world-class skiing in the winter, have helped Wise develop into one of the top young halfpipe skiers in the nation.” Though Wise resides in Reno, he trains in Tahoe (where the slopes are).

•Maddie Bowman, 20, of South Lake Tahoe, won a gold medal in women’s freestyle skiing half pipe. Her parents were skiers. Her father was professional racer, and her mother competed in the U.S. Far West division and later became a coach.

•Jamie Anderson, 20, of South Lake Tahoe, won a gold medal in the women’s slopestyle snowboarding competition. She is rooted in South Lake Tahoe, surrounded by her easygoing friends and supportive family, as Oakley.com reports.

•Julia Mancuso, 29, from Squaw Valley, won a bronze medal in the women’s super combined – slalom She began her race career at age three in Squaw Valley’s junior ski program, the Mighty Mites, as Tahoetopia reports. We quote Julia in our current issue: “We ski in the sunshine.” Mancuso, who also trains in Hawaii, surfed in the Black Sea before she left Sochi. “There are real waves in Sochi,” Mancuso said with a laugh.

The reasons Tahoe did so well are multifaceted: The area is closely tied to an outdoor culture and lifestyle, in both summer and winter. Tahoe hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960, at Squaw Valley and along the West Shore.

The region is steeped in winter sports history. Truckee was established as a winter sports destination from 1890-1920. Visitors arrived from the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento on the Southern Pacific Railroad’s “Snowball Express” for winter carnivals.

Auburn was instrumental in the growth of our winter sports industry. The Auburn Ski Club was formed in 1928 by resident Wendell Robie. “The club succeeded in convincing the state to keep Hwy. 40 open year-round,” says the Donner Summit Historical Society, paving the way for the ski industry.

Hollywood played a role too. In the late ‘30s, Walt Disney helped his friend, Hannes Schroll, open the Sugar Bowl ski area.

All told, the region has some of the best ski spots, with scenic beauty, and is deeply rooted in winter history. The medals won at the Sochi Olympics will help cement that reputation.

(Photo and caption: Maddie Bowman of the United States celebrates winning the gold medal in the Freestyle Skiing Ladies’ Ski Halfpipe Finals with David Wise, gold medal winner in the Men’s Ski Halfpipe on day thirteen of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 20, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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