2009 Worlds bid moving right along
An unprecedented bid to host the world championships of alpine and freestyle skiing – and snowboarding – over a two-week period in 2009 took another step forward this week.
Members of the international alpine ski racing community were in town inspecting the facilities at Vail and Beaver Creek, the final leg of a whirlwind tour that included three other European ski resorts – Val d’Isere, France; Garmsich, Germany; and Schladming, Austria, also to bid on the 2009 World Alpine Skiing Championships.
“It’s a very important step in our bid,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation, which has organized major international sporting events in the valley in the past.
Big decision in June
The foundation submitted its bid for the alpine championships in May and plans to submit proposals for the freestyle and snowboarding events in December. Vail hosted the Alpine Ski World Championships in 1989 and 1999 and, Folz has said, the races galvanized the valley like no other event – before or since. In 1999, for example, more than 2,000 volunteers spent between 50 and 100 hours each preparing for and working at the races.
The decision for all three 2009 competitions will be made in June.
In town this week were members of the International Ski Federation, the European Broadcasting Union and the U.S. Ski Team, as well as representatives with APF, an organization that holds sponsorship rights for the 2009 event.
In preparation for the tour, the foundation, the town of Vail, Vail Resorts and Beaver Creek Resort Company placed signs all over the community and on the ski mountains indicating the purpose of venues that would be used should Vail/Beaver Creek win the bid to host the 2009 championships.
Also, roundabouts in Vail and Avon are sporting festive banners for the occasion.
“A lot of them already are familiar with Vail and Beaver Creek as a World Cup venue,” Folz said.
John Garnsey, chief operating officer of Beaver Creek, said this week’s inspections are of a technical nature and a very necessary part of the process.
“But there’s no doubt we can host the World Championships,” he said. “We’ve hosted two of them already.”
Garnsey said he was on his way to Europe to meet with high-ranking brass within the skiing’s various governing bodies to further discuss efforts to bring the events to Vail and Beaver Creek.
Folz, meanwhile, said the competition from Europe is “tough,” all the resorts having hosted the men’s World Cup.
“Any one of them would make a great site,” she said. “We just have to focus on what we do best.”
A good boost
The Alpine World Championships attract about 800 athletes – including the world’s best skiers – from about 40 countries, while the other two events draw about 300 competitors each. Earlier this year, Folz said there has been intense competition to host the events from other North American resorts, too, such as Whistler in British Columbia.
“There’s so much desire from around the world to host the championships, it makes it a tough bid,” Folz has said.
The 2003 races were held in Switzerland, and the next two, in 2005 and 2007, also will be held in Europe, in Italy and Sweden, respectively. The 2010 Winter Olympics will be in North America, at Whistler.
To host the event, sponsors would give organizers – in this case the Vail Valley Foundation – about $30 million to set up and operate the races. Folz said much of that money would be spent in the valley, purchasing everything from tents to electronic equipment.
About $16 million was spent in the valley in 1999, with another $4 million spent in the rest of Colorado, Folz said.
Frank Johnson, director of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau, said earlier this year the unprecedented triple bid could benefit the valley’s tourist-driven economy.
“It sounds like exactly the kind of high-profile participant and media event that Vail needs to solidify it’s position in the sports world of all these events,” he said.
New projects “a plus’
Vail, meanwhile, should have completed many major renovation projects by 2009, such as Vail’s Front Door and Lionshead. Two new, five-star hotels – the Vail Plaza and the Four Seasons – also are in the works, scheduled for completion years before.
Folz said while it’s “a plus” to have so many new projects in the works, she believes Vail and Beaver Creek have everything they need to host a world-class event already. And perhaps, if the foundation’s bid wins out, having the 2009 championships coming to town will provide an impetus to get everything finished.
“The new facilities will give us even better options,” she said.
Editor’s note: Matt Zalaznick contributed to this report.