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While the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia may already be fading into memory for some, the legacy of the Games will forever be on display at Huntsville’s Canada Summit Centre.
On Thursday, September 3, slopestyle champion Dara Howell was on hand along with Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison to officially unveil the newest addition to the ‘Dara Howell Exhibit’; the full outfit and equipment she wore during her unforgettable gold medal run 19 months ago.
Huntsville means everything to me, I don’t think a lot of people can say that they have had the support that I received from their community
Gold medal winner – Dara Howell
Complete with skis, goggles, outerwear and her Olympic bib, the collection was donated by Dara and her family in order for the community to enjoy, and to inspire the next wave of Olympic hopefuls.
“It’s fantastic, the fact that the community wanted to have this outfit, it’s so much nicer than having it sit away in a closet,” added Dara’s mother, Dee. “This way everyone gets to see it, we get to see it. It’s very special.”
In an emotional unwrapping of gold coloured paper and confetti, Dara and Mayor Aitchison revealed the glass display case to the sound of cheering and applause.
“Dara has spoken many, many times about how lucky she is to have come from a small town and the tremendous amount of support she has always received from the community,” said Mayor Aitchison. “I think that there is no question that Huntsville is really proud of her and her accomplishments. The donation of her suit and her skis and everything that she was wearing the day she won gold is just a tremendous acknowledgement of that support, and we are proud to display it along with Huntsville’s other sporting legends. Dara is one of them now.”
Dara became the first female to win the inaugural Olympic Slopestyle competition in Sochi, capturing the minds and hearts of supporters across the country with her phenomenal routine and humble, intensely Canadian presence. Her performance came on the heels of multiple bronze medals at the Winter X Games dating back to 2012, and a silver medal at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in 2013, cementing Dara as one of the elite competitors in her sport.
“I don’t think I can wipe the smile off my face right now,” continued Dara. “Whenever you’re talking about the Olympics it brings back all the memories, all the hard work it took, and it’s so cool to see it pay off.”
Teri Souter, Huntsville’s Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage, and Sara White, the town’s Collections Coordinator, expertly positioned the equipment in a way that visitors can imagine the items being used.
“It made our jobs very easy because it’s a brand new collection, and it’s in pristine condition,” said Souter of the display. “We added a little bit of stuffing in some strategic areas, a little bit of pinching in others to give it definition. Dara is very slight and it looked so good on her, I’m happy that she is pleased with the way it looks in the case.”