VAIL — The 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships have put a temporary hold on a Vail event that’s still in its infancy.
The Vail Valley Foundation announced Wednesday it has put the Winter Mountain Games on hold for two years. The event was created in 2012 and held again this year. The next event is set for February of 2016.
According to a release from the foundation, “the decision was made in order to help facilitate the ramp up to the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.”
The Winter Mountain Games were started as a cold-weather counterpart to the successful summer Mountain Games. Both are billed as a celebration of “human-powered” athletics, featuring everything from kayaking to cycling to climbing.
While the summer games are well-established, the winter version conflicts with the 2015 ski championships, so the event would likely have taken that year off anyway. Add in the complexity of hosting the world’s top ski racing event, and a two-year break made sense.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s understandable,” Vail Town Council member Greg Moffet said. “We have a very full dance card the next couple of years.”
John Dakin, vice president of communications for the foundation, said the group decided to forego the 2014 games in order to “have all resources focused on 2015.”
Despite the two-year break, foundation officials said the games will be back in 2016.
“The Winter Mountain Games has developed a tremendous following in its first two years of existence,” foundation president Ceil Folz wrote in the release. “We are committed to bringing the [games] back in 2016.”
While the foundation is committed to the winter games, the ski championships is a massive project. The foundation estimates that skiers from more than 70 countries will compete in the events. The TV audience is estimated at 750 million, with roughly 1,500 TV, print and online reporters and technical support people. The championships will demand a lot of resources from the foundation, the town of Vail and Vail Resorts, Folz wrote.
Vail Town Council member Margaret Rogers said recent reports from officials who attended the 2013 championships in Schladming, Austria, underscored the project’s size.
“The magnitude of 2015 is really beginning to sink in for everyone,” Rogers said.
And, Moffet said it’s crucial that big events in the heart of ski season “run flawlessly.”
This year’s Burton U.S. Open Snowboard Championships was a good example of how a well-run event meshes with an already-busy valley.
Once the world skiing circus leaves, there will be time and energy to devote to other projects. Rogers said she believes the Winter Mountain Games can take a two-year break and return.
“I don’t think it will hurt,” Rogers said. “It’s not like the summer games — we’re still in the ramping-up process for winter.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.