The eruption shook the tables, floors and walls.
Canadian Olympian Dara Howell of Huntsville had just clinched the gold medal and her family, friends and supporters gathered at the Muskoka Ski Club clubhouse early Tuesday morning were in a state of euphoria.
Howell had just posted a score of 94.2 on her first run of the ladies ski slopestyle final in Sochi, Russia to take top spot. Then they waited patiently until it victory certain, standing on their feet for the entire second run cheering, clapping, celebrating a gold medal for Howell.
Tears ran down the faces of several in attendance and her grandfathers swelled with pride at the way their granddaughter acquitted herself on the grandest stage in winter sports. While Howell’s parents, grandmother Jacquie and a few friends traveled to Sochi with her, many family members remained in Huntsville, including her grandfathers Jack Howell and Ken Raven, and uncle Bruce.
"What can you say?" said Jack Howell. "It’s wonderful, it’s unbelievable. She had her goals four years ago from her first competition: She was headed to the X-Games and headed to the Olympics and her dreams came through."
From the outset of the event a definite electricity could be felt at Howell’s home club as over a hundred individuals were on hand to cheer on the 19-year-old Olympian.
Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area, which is run by the Muskoka Ski Club, opened their doors, set up the big screen television and welcomed the masses. It was a pretty raucous crowd considering the festivities kicked-off at midnight and ran through 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Chants of "Go Dara Go," loud cheers when she was on the screen, and even a bit of nervous excitement was on tap as Howell stepped up to become the first Canadian in Olympic history to compete in the new women’s ski slopestyle event.
Almost everyone wore Canada red, including MP Tony Clement, who even drove Howell’s cousin Ben from Ottawa to Huntsville for the event after receiving a tweet from the young Algonquin College student.
Many in the crowd wore "Dara" t-shirts and one young fan had a large red cape draped over his shoulders with Howell’s name on it.
The clubhouse exploded on Howell’s first run, which resulted in a score of 88.8, with many standing and pumping their fists. And every time the leaderboard with Howell at the top flashed on the screen, cheers went up.
With just over an hour break between qualifying and the slopestyle final, the energy in the crowd ebbed a bit but it was back at an incredible level by 4 a.m.
"Here we go," shouted Andy Mattice to no one and everyone. The feeling among the crowd was mutual. Less than an hour later they were celebrating together with those in Sochi and those at home.
As much as this was Howell’s Olympic gold medal, the moment was shared by her family, her friends, the Muskoka Ski Club, Hidden Valley Highlands and the town of Huntsville.
"There’s been tremendous support all the way through," said Jack Howell. "The ski club, family, friends and the community have all been so supportive of Dara through the years."