DENVER (CBS4)– What was supposed to be a quick connection in Denver turned into a long layover for a women’s wrestling team from Atlanta. They were among the thousands stranded at Denver International Airport.
“This was exceptionally crazy,” Christian Flavin, the team’s co-head coach, said. “We’ve been here for almost 40 hours now.”
The team from “Life University” is trying to get to North Dakota for a national tournament, but Mother Nature seems to have other plans.
“We can’t get you out, we can’t get you in,” Flavin said of what United Airlines told him, “so we’re all kind of in that holding pattern.”
Wednesday’s unprecedented blizzard conditions with the Bomb Cyclone grounded their flight and more than a thousand others, so the team spent the night at DIA.
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“We made forts out of the blankets they gave us,” Flavin told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “We are trying to make the best of the situation.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared an emergency on Wednesday and some stranded drivers had to be taken to emergency shelters by Colorado National Guard crews and other rescue teams. Some vehicles remained on the sides of the interstates on Thursday, but most had been removed by the afternoon.
A new day brought little change. On Thursday, more than 700 flights were cancelled at DIA. Coach Flavin waited in long lines again, hoping to find any route out of the Mile High City.
“Flying back to Atlanta, to Minnesota, from here to anywhere really. The hard part with a group is there’s 16 of us and we have to travel together,” he said.
To help pass the time – the team played card games and their coach made sure they exercised, too.
“I mean, you can walk 38 miles here so you might as well do it,” Flavin said.
With all runways back open at DIA and more flights taking off, the team is hopeful they’ll get out to make it to Jamestown in time for the tournament… and not have to wrestle with another delay and airport chaos.
“They did the best they could with what they had,” Flavin said of United and the airport. “As frustrating as it is for us it is for them because there’s nothing they can do about it.”
Flavin said the team is now scheduled to fly to Kearney, Nebraska Thursday night, then rent a couple cars to drive seven hours or more to North Dakota on Friday. The team is supposed to check in to the tournament Saturday morning.