Shannon Bahrke proudly displays her 2002 Olympic silver medal in freestyle moguls. (Getty Images-Mike Powell)
Feb. 9, 2002 – Ten years ago today, Squaw Valley’s young Shannon Bahrke kicked off the 2002 Olympic Winter Games with the silver medal in moguls on opening day at Deer Valley Resort. It was the first of 10 medals for U.S. skiers and snowboarders – the most successful Games in history to that point. Ten years later, Bahrke talks about her memories of that day.
Reflections on an Opening Day Silver Medal “As I look back on this tenth anniversary of my Olympic silver medal there are so many memories that come to mind. But my favorite is standing at the top of the course on my final run. I had just listened to my favorite Shakira song (danced a little bit), done all of my visualization of a perfect run, completed all of my breathing exercises to calm my nerves, and finally it was my turn to step into the gate. I looked out at a bluebird sky and freshly snow capped mountains, then the enormous crowd going crazy for the American hometown girl and finally focusing on my task at hand - the longest steepest moguls course in the world.
“Somewhere in my heart and soul I knew it was my time to shine. A peace came over me that I have never felt before or since. The starter at the top of the course asked, "Olympian ready?" I broke into a huge smile knowing that, yes, I was absolutely 100% ready. It was my moment and I was going to make the most of it. The rest is history!
“But I wasn't alone up there. I was skiing not only for myself, but my family, friends, coaches, supporters, volunteers, Tahoe City, Salt Lake City, Utah, California, the USA and, at that moment, the world. I couldn't have done it without the support of people I knew but also those I had never met.
“We are all a part of this thing called "Olympic Spirit." Thinking about it ten years later is simply overwhelming and magical.”
Today, Shannon Bahrke Happe is the proud owner of two Olympic medals – her 2002 silver and a 2010 bronze. She retired from competition after the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games and, together with husband Matt, run her burgeoning Silver Bean Coffee company in Salt Lake City. She remains active in her sport and recently served as an ambassador to the first Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck.