An Olympic medalist goes by without notice

Bryon Wilson really should have a hard time visiting the Mining City.

It should be difficult for him to go out to a restaurant or to stop by the mall with all the fans seeking autographs and photos with the 2010 Olympic medal winner.

He should be recognized wherever he goes whenever he comes to town.

Thirty-six percent of the 5-and-under boys in town — and a handful of girls — should be named Bryon.

Instead, Wilson, who visited his hometown briefly last week, can slip in and out of town with hardly anybody noticing. He might have sat by you at Pork Chop Johns or Metals Sports Bar & Grill, and you didn’t even notice.

Bryon WIlson dons a smoking jacket during a visit to the KBOW Lounge last week.

Bryon Wilson dons a smoking jacket during a visit to the KBOW Lounge last week.

That doesn’t make any sense because Wilson very well could be the most accomplished athlete this town ever put out. He is at least in the conversation after winning the bronze medal in the men’s freestyle moguls in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

He is certainly a first-ballot Butte Sports Hall of Famer after finishing this past World Cup season ranked No. 10 on the planet.

However, if you mention the name Bryon Wilson in town, a great percentage of people think of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys or Brian Wilson the relief pitcher with the unnatural-looking beard.

“Did you see Bryon Wilson when he was in town?”

“The Beach Boys were in town.”

“No, Bryon Wilson, not Brian Wilson.”

“What was the weirdo pitcher from the Dodgers doing here?”

“No. The Olympian. Not the guy why stayed in bed for days on end. I’m talking about the Butte kid who grew up a couple of blocks from Clark Park and became an Olympic medalist. Bryon Wilson. B-R-Y-O-N.”

“Oh, that Bryon Wilson. I thought his name was Brad.”

Yes, Bryon Wilson is even overshadowed by his brother, who also competes on the world level in freestyle moguls. Brad Wilson was a member of the 2014 Olympic team.

Just look at the Twitter followers for the two. Brad Wilson, who hasn’t won an Olympic medal yet — yet — has 2,100. Bryon Wilson has just over 200.

For crying out loud, “Jake Dennehy’s Ego” and “Colt Anderson’s Locks” have more than that.

Of course, Brad’s personality plays a role in his overshadowing of his brother. Brad is, after all, the boy who played tennis for Butte Central with a racquet that said Serena Williams on one side and her sister Venus on the other.

The younger Wilson owns pretty much every room he enters because of that smile and the hint of mischievousness that’s behind it.

Brad isn’t cursed with self-awareness (in a good way), and he will be a media darling when he wins a medal in the 2018 Games. Once the NBC folks get a glimpse of his smile on the podium, he’ll be sitting next to Bob Costas.

He’ll be on the Today Show and the Tonight Show, flashing his smile with the medal round his neck.

When Bryon won bronze, NBC barely noticed, if at all. They had to hurry up and get to the next tear-jerking feature story so they didn’t have time to say the words “Bryon Wilson” after the race. They didn’t even say Brian Wilson.

Like his brother, Brad is a picture-perfect role model. Guys want to be him and girls want to be with him.

Brad’s personality, though is much different. He definitely fits the mold of a guy who races down a mogul-covered mountain and does crazy death-defying flips through the air.

Off the slopes, Bryon is more quiet and serious. He fits the mold of a second-year dental student.

When he came to town after winning the bronze medal, he didn’t wear the medal around his neck. He kept it in the front pocket of his jeans. He’d flip it out and show you, but only if you asked.

He didn’t offer up his Olympic medal nearly as readily as the average fisherman offers his iPhone pictures of his latest catch.

Even the Wilson brothers’ teammates, the people who know the brothers best, sometimes forget about Bryon, despite all of his success.

Brad missed this past season after surgery to repair a torn ACL. Still, one teammate looks at Bryon and says, “Brad, you’re back already?”

Bryon acts as if he was just told somebody stole his idea by coming up with 6-Minute Abs,

“No. No No. I’m not Brad. I’m Bryon. Bryon.”

That happens a lot. That’s why Paul Panisko and I decided it is time for Bryon Wilson to get some recognition when he stopped by KBOW for an interview during his brief visit.

We started the hashtag #BryonExists, though it has gotten little traction so far.

Butte should embrace Bryon Wilson way more than it does because he sure as heck embraces the fact that he was raised in Butte, even though he is hardly here because of his busy schedule.

At a World Cup event several years ago, he was announced as being from Park City, Utah because actually resides in Utah now. He has to because he trains there.

Bryon marched up a hill in his ski boots to correct the man behind the microphone. “I’m Bryon Wilson, and I’m from Butte, Montana,” Bryon proclaimed proudly.

OK, so I don’t know if that’s exactly what he said it, but that’s how I picture the scene going down. With some dramatic music in the background.

He did, however, definitely let everybody know that he is a Butte guy, and that’s pretty cool.

We had a special day and a parade for a cyclist who doesn’t give the Mining City the time of day. Next time he comes to town, we should definitely have a “Bryon Wilson Day” and a parade so everybody can get a chance to cheer on our great Olympian.

We don’t need a “Brad Wilson Day” because every day is Brad Wilson Day.

Just ask Bryon. The Olympian, not the Beach Boy.

— Bill Foley, who actually looks up to the Brian Wilson who stayed in bed for months on end, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.

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