VAIL — The Vail Valley Foundation reached 20 percent of its volunteer goals for the 2015 World Championships in a single evening this week.
At a fun yet focused recruitment meeting on Thursday, just under 500 people showed up to learn about volunteer opportunities at the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships, which will require roughly 2,000 volunteers.
“We’re expecting that we’ll get a lot more applications than we have positions for, which is great,” Jen Mason with the Vail Valley Foundation said from the event. “Judging by this turnout, we already have a lot of interest for something that’s still a year and a half away.”
Eager to sign up
The event resembled a job-fair, with volunteer applicants wandering from booth to booth, learning about the requirements of volunteer divisions such as medical, hospitality and social and security.
“We were security at the ’99 championships,” said Jean Marcellot with a gesture toward her friend Suzette Newman. “This time we applied for everything.”
Security chairman and Vail chief of police Dwight Henninger said he received 75 emails from interested volunteers in a hour and a half hour period.
“I was very pleased with the turnout,” he said.
Some booths were busier than others. The recognizable faces of longtime Vail residents Harry and Susan Frampton drew people to the hospitality and social table, where Susan Frampton shared fond memories of the ’89 and ’99 World Alpine Ski Championships, which were also held in the Vail Valley.
“In ’99, we put on a full rodeo indoors at the Dobson Ice Arena,” she said. “The people who signed up had no idea what they were getting into. We trucked dirt in and everything. But all the volunteers just had a wonderful time. We dressed them up in the rodeo clothing and everyone just loved it.”
Culture of Volunteering
Cheryl Jensen, volunteer committee chairperson for the 2015 organizing committee, said she was very pleased with the turnout.
“The volunteer culture here in this valley is incredible,” she said. “In Europe, they’ll attract bigger fan galleries, yet have less volunteers apply. If you look at the proportion of fans to volunteers it’s off the scale here compared to there. We’re very fortunate to have such wonderful communities.”
‘Go Both Ways’
But, as Vail Valley Foundation president Ceil Folz told the crowd in a moving speech, it can go both ways.
“I got my start at the Vail Valley Foundation as a volunteer at the ’89 World Ski Championships,” she said. “I have so many wonderful memories of volunteering, but I also remember working hard and not knowing all the answers. It was a challenge, but it began a new chapter in my life which really brought me here today.”
The Vail Valley Foundation officially began accepting volunteer applications for the 2015 championships at on Thursday. To fill out an application, visit http://vvf.org/athletics/2015-world-championships and click on the word “volunteer” on the left side of the page.
Staff Writer John LaConte can be reached at 970-748-2988 and firstname.lastname@example.org.