Feb 8, 2014 12:52 AM by Tony Spehar

Olympic hopefuls join Olympic Opening Ceremony celebration in Colorado Springs

Among the thousands of people who came to downtown Colorado Springs on Friday to celebrate the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi were Olympic hopefuls of all kinds.

Figure skater Kelsey Barnes trains in Monument and though she won't be competing in Sochi, she came to cheer on friends who traveled to Russia.

"So proud of them and everyone who's there representing the us, they've all put in so much hard work, they all deserve to be there," Barnes said enthusiastically. "For all of us back home, gosh, do we want to be there? Yes, definitely, that is the dream."

She said she hopes one day to be in the Winter Games herself.

"Everyday you get up bright and early and you get on the ice and you pound it out and do your hours and you just get better and better and it shows up in competition," she described.

Jamie Burke and Kitt Wagner, both women's rugby players, came out to celebrate despite their sport being a game for the summer. Their hopes were high as the 2016 Summer Games will include rugby for the first time since 1924. Though their immediate thoughts were with their fellow athletes in Sochi.

"Being an international athlete I know how much effort goes into training and time and time away from your family and friends," Jamie Burke said.

They also said the amount of support being shown by the thousands who crowded into downtown Colorado Springs was heartening.

"To get to see this kind of support coming out really kind of makes that feel so much more worth it knowing that there's so much support back home," Burke explained.

Among the most hopeful of the Olympic hopefuls were the Paralympians who will travel to Russia next month. Keith Gabel, who will take part in the first Paralympic snowboarding competition, said he couldn't wait to see his hopes realized and travel to Sochi to join Team USA.

"Words can't explain it, the only word I can use to explain it is I'm 'stoked,' absolutely 'stoked,'" Gabel described. "I mean I get chills just thinking about it."


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