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Locals and visitors crowd Park City Main Street for Olympians and Paralympians parade

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Ben Lasseter
Freestyle skier Chris Lillis talks to a crowd of hundreds on Park City Main Street about training in Park City to compete at a high level, with teammate Justin Schoenfeld standing at his side. The two were part of the Team USA mixed aerials team that won gold in the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Hundreds descended upon Park City Main Street Friday for a parade to celebrate athletes who represented Utah in the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics.

Along with Olympians and Paralympians, the parade, sponsored by the Youth Sports Alliance, featured young athletes representing local clubs and Park City High School.

After the procession, 66 skiers, lugers, biathletes and others who competed in Beijing earlier this year took the stage at the Town Lift Plaza.

Several of those athletes, including four-time Paralympian alpine skier Danelle Umstead, gave personal accounts of their experiences and acknowledged support they received in Park City on their way to the games.

“The sport culture is super amazing, Umstead said. “How I’ve been treated as an athlete and supported over the years since I moved here in 2006 is incredible - supporting all kids, women, girls and all of it is incredible. We are unique, and we’re awesome.”

Umstead, with her husband and guide Rob standing at her side, also spoke of being the flag bearer for Team USA as “super fun and super honorable.”

Freestyle skier Chris Lillis, who won gold in mixed team aerials, also paid respects to the city where he’s found a home for training.

“To be an Olympic athlete and to train at an elite level, it’s almost mandatory that you come to a place like Park City - come train here, be amongst the best past Olympians, go to the Olympic day parade,” he said. “That’s the way you get there, and honestly, Park City, for me, is a model of what other small towns and other ski communities around the country should be doing in order to get up on that par and get their Olympic level up.”

Athletes on stage encouraged up-and-comers in the crowd to follow in their footsteps.

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Ben Lasseter
Team USA alpine skier Bella Wright gives an autograph to young fan Hazel Schiller, who said she'd like to become an Olympian one day.

Local youngster Hazel Schiller; who listed skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, biking and jiu-jitsu as her sports; said the Olympians’ and Paralympians’ message resonated.

“All the things that they do, and all the medals that they get, and all the things that they do for our community - it makes me feel like maybe I could become an Olympic athlete, maybe one day,” Schiller said.

From the beginning of the parade through the meet-and-greet with local band Lash LaRue playing music, the crowd that filled up Main Street remained loud and engaged with the celebration.

Kayla Schifferle, visiting in town with her family from Washington D.C., said she had always enjoyed skiing, but the exposure on Friday to Park City’s level of winter sports culture was new to her.

“This is my first time I’ve seen Olympians face-to-face, and I found it really cool to see the 2022 winners because that was this year, and it’s exciting to see kids my age, a little older than me even, doing all these amazing things,” she said.

The Youth Sports Alliance also hosted parades after the 2018 and 2014 winter Olympics.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.
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