EAGLE COUNTY — If the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships was a NASCAR racer, then the hood and the doors would already have their corporate logos affixed. But there’s still room on the car for myriad other companies to participate.
The “hood” of the 2015 event belongs to Audi, the “presenting” sponsor of the event. Other significant spaces on our metaphorical car belong to Longines, the event’s official timekeeper, Deichmann, a European footwear retailer and J.Lindeberg, a sports-clothing company. Aside from the big sponsors, though, a host of local companies are also taking part. Again, if the two-week event was a NASCAR machine, then those companies would be the smaller stickers stuck pretty much everywhere else.
The NASCAR analogy isn’t exact, of course. In the case of the 2015 championships the International Ski Federation (FIS) actually owns the championships. Overall sponsorship sales rights belong to the European Broadcast Union. That’s the organization that sold sponsorships to the event’s biggest corporate sponsors. The Vail Valley Foundation, the “local organizing committee” negotiated for the rights to sell national and local “partnerships.”
Mike Imhof, the Foundation’s senior vice president for operations and sales, said the Foundation is allowed to sell up to eight national sponsorships. Where the sales job gets tricky is that national companies can’t be competitors of any kind with the existing international sponsors. That means no other auto companies are allowed. That extends to the footwear and clothing sponsors, although neither does business in the U.S.
But, Imhof said, there are plenty of other potential sponsors out there. A telecommunications or computer company could participate at the national level. At the local level, a jewelry store that sells watch brands other than Longines could participate, but couldn’t use the brands it sells in any 2015-related advertising.
A Complicated Scene
It’s all a fairly complicated scene. Where the picture becomes more clear is in selling “official supplier” or “partner” designations.
For instance, Colorado Mountain Express is the “official supplier” of ground transportation for the championships. And Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate recently announced a similar role, as did Korbel.
John Dawsey, of Colorado Mountain Express, said the company got involved for a couple of reasons.
“First, it’s a great opportunity to promote CME to the international audience coming out — and it’s an opportunity to support the community,” Dawsey said. The company’s involvement will include shuttling guests back and forth to the airports in Gypsum and Denver, of course. But the company’s vans will also shuttle athletes back and forth from hotels to race sites and other events.
One of those hotels is the Inn at Riverwalk, one of 39 “lodging partners” currently listed on the 2015 website. Inn at Riverwalk general manager Kim Newbury said the hotel has already seen a bump in reservations because of its presence on the site. A Norwegian ski group has already booked a week at the hotel in Edwards, Newbury said.
In return for that presence on the website and elsewhere, participating partners will also be asked to provide discounted or complimentary rooms for people with official roles in the championships.
The big teams will stay at some of the valley’s bigger hotels. The Inn at Riverwalk could host a small team, Newbury said, but more likely will provide a two-week home for some of the hundreds of “support staff” — people from ski tuners to athletic trainers to those who analyze racers’ practice and competition videos.
“We’re really excited about what (the championships) is doing for the valley,” Newbury said. The hotel’s owners have done traveled the world, and understand the value of bringing an international audience to the Vail Valley.
“It’s hugely important,” Newbury said of the partnership with the championships. “It’s driving business to us much earlier.”