Battle is on for 2009 Worlds
Vail and Beaver Creek’s bid to “three-peat” as a host of the World Alpine Ski Championships has been made much more interesting because of the Vail Valley Foundation’s three-pronged approach to the event, according to representatives who recently lobbied FIS officials in Europe.At the FIS (International Ski Federation) fall meeting in Zurich, Switzerland in October, Vail Valley Foundation President Ceil Folz and Beaver Creek Chief Operating Officer John Garnsey, a former president of the foundation, met with individual FIS voters to tout the merits of the Vail Valley’s triple play.Vail and Beaver Creek have twice before hosted the Worlds (in 1989 and ’99), but exclusively in alpine skiing. Now the resorts want to add snowboarding and freestyle skiing championships.There’s some risk involved given the traditional alpine backgrounds of some FIS officials, and with three other high-profile bidders in the mix and $30 million in guaranteed TV rights and sponsorships up for grabs, the stakes are high.According to Garnsey, in some camps the three-pronged bid gives Vail and Beaver Creek an edge, but others aren’t as sure.”Some of the voters think it’s an advantage, and some of them don’t understand it, and some of them think it’s too much,” Garnsey says. “I think overall it was a positive response. We have three very competitive candidates in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Val d’Isere, France, and Schladming, Austria, so it won’t be easy by any means.”Folz says this may be the first time four resorts have bid for one championship a factor that could be explained by the event’s guaranteed $30 million TV and sponsorship package, which was implemented after Vail’s successful 1999 bid.But the voting process is different this time around, she says, streamlined and better in some ways, but far more intense in others. In the past, every national ski council had one or more vote, so there were more than 300 voters deciding Vail’s fate. Now the process has been narrowed to 16 voters, so bidders have to make their presentations count, especially given they each stand to lose a non-refundable $300,000 bidding fee.The three-pronged championship requires more explanation, but it also sets Vail apart, Folz adds.”I think it was very well-received,” Folz says. “It separates us from the pack, which I think is a good thing, and with those individuals who tend to look at the future of the sport and the concept of tying in and expanding the audience for each of the sports, I think there was a lot of support for the concept.”Having said that, there are some voters who tend to be more traditionalist and as a result we need to spend even more time with them and walk them through the benefits of the concept for all three sports.”The final decision will be made at the FIS Congress in Miami in June. In the first round of voting, if no resort receives a majority of nine votes, the low vote-getter will be eliminated and three will move on to the second round. The process is repeated for two more rounds if necessary.In October, Folz and Garnsey (each bidding resort is allowed only two presenters) were able to meet with a number of the voters in Zurich, but had to travel to Belgium, Sweden and the Czech Republic to talk to delegates who weren’t able to attend the meeting in Switzerland.In all, they met with eight of the 16 voters. They plan to make their presentation to the other eight before the June meeting in Miami.
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