Tahoe watches, cheers | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe watches, cheers

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Heavenly Ski Foundation coaches, from left, Ed McClain, Jonathan Hirschfield and Travis Chatwin wish Round Hill's Elena Hight good luck before heading to the Olympics.

Hannah Teter drives a Cadillac Escalade and lives in her new house in Meyers that she shares with her two big brothers, Abe and Elijah. Elena Hight often can be seen in her Round Hill neighborhood walking her dog, Bosco, a boxer-lab mix.

The teenage snowboarders had a higher profile Monday night as they competed in the Winter Olympics in prime time on national television.

Teter, just 19 years old, won the gold medal in the halfpipe. Hight, the youngest U.S. team member at 16, finished in sixth place. NBC commentator Bob Costes described her as “the precious flyer.”

Nearly 80 people on Monday were at Sam’s Beachhouse, which was adorned with Hight banners and biographies on each table.

“It’s the greatest that a local made it to the Olympics,” said Joe Arcuch, who works with Hight’s mother at Moto Advisor of Zephyr Cove. “It’s absolutely fabulous.”

But the viewers were disappointed that Hight’s residence was listed as Mammoth Lakes by the television network.

“We’re upset because she’s from Zephyr Cove and they said Mammoth,” said event organizer Penny Echan. “I’ve been friends with the Hights for nine years now. They live two minutes from here – That’s why I picked Sam’s to have the party.”

Others watched the Games from their home. For Wolf Pack fan Paul Andrew the choice between watching Nevada-Lousiana Tech on ESPN or the Olympics was an easy one.

“My daughter had a volleyball game (at Kingsbury Middle School) but all the girls wanted to get home and watch Elena on TV,” said Andrew, who lives a couple of streets away from the Hights.

“She’s a very sweet girl, very humble,” Andrew said. “This is incredible. Some countries only have one Olympic athlete, and Round Hill had one Olympic athlete. She’s the first Olympian I’ve ever known.”

Janet Murphy of Round Hill, whose daughter was taught how to snowboard by Hight four years ago, heard about Hight’s performance before the tape-delayed TV broadcast.

“I’m not surprised,” she said. “I told her she was going to be an Olympian when she was 13. She said, ‘Yeah, right.’ “

“But I knew something good was going to happen to her. She has great parents (Myra and Michael), just like Travis Cabral has a great dad in Dale. Those parents kept their kids well-grounded, were strict and dedicated their lives to their children.”

Sierra-at-Tahoe General Manager John Rice was in Southern California for a fundraising golf tournament on Monday. Early in the day he was frustrated with the Olympic coverage because there had been no mention of Teter.

“I read the Los Angeles Times today and all it was talking about was Gretchen Bleiler and Kelly Clark,” Rice said. “The article didn’t even mention Hannah. I was having breakfast this morning with some family members and I told them ‘The one who is going to win gold is Hannah Teter.’

“Chris Gunnarson, who works up at the resort, called me like 10 minutes later and said ‘Have you heard the news? Or do you not want to know?’

“‘No,’ I said. ‘Tell me.’

“‘All right, Hannah won gold.'”

Rice explained Teter’s relationship with Sierra-at-Tahoe.

“We worked with both brothers last year and this year we went to lunch with Hannah (in the fall). She said she wanted a place to train at our resort and heard we were getting a new Zaug pipecutter.

“She wanted to call it her home mountain. I told her that for the first year why don’t you get to know us? Just hang out at the resort and see how you like it. We don’t want to buy you away from another mountain. So she’s been riding here and been up a few times this year. It’s just been a real easy relationship. Anything she needs, we told her to let us know. When asked where she trains, she says ‘Sierra-at-Tahoe.’ It’s not official and she’s not sponsored by us.”

– Aimi Xistra and Jeremy Evans contributed to this story.

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