Valley makes final pitch for ski championships
The who’s who of the Vail Valley will head to Florida later this month in a final effort to bring the 2009 world championships of alpine, freestyle skiing and snowboarding to the county’s mountains.
“It’s a pretty key group,” said Ceil Folz, Vail Valley Foundation director. “We have people we think can really demonstrate how much support we have for this.”
The International Ski Federation Congress will meet from May 30 to June 6 in Miami. While there, the 16-member ski federation council will decide where the 2009 world championships will be.
Expected to head to Miami later this month are: Vail Mayor Rod Slifer, Avon Mayor Buz Reynolds, Jr., members from Folz’s group and top officials with the Beaver Creek Resort Company and Vail Resorts, including Vail Mountain’s chief operating officer, Bill Jensen.
This is the first time any location has campaigned to host three international championship events in the same year. Vail hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships in 1989 and 1999, but going for three events is unprecedented, Folz said.
“We believe that the concept is right,” she said. “We’ve made our chances so much more difficult, but I guess when you believe in something you have to go for it.”
Gearing up for the bid
“What they are trying to do is show a valleywide contingency of support,” Reynolds said.
If the championships come to Vail and Beaver Creek, Avon and Vail have agreed to help out. The Vail Town Council has indicated it would contribute about $800,000 over four or five years for the event. Avon hasn’t indicated how much it would assist yet.
“We will be helping financially, based on how much they ask us for,” Reynolds said. “All of the communities in the county will have to come up to the plate to help support such a wonderful function.”
The team heading to Florida represents the major funding partners. But their presence during the conference is more than just a show of community support. Each member of the team will have work to do.
Every location vying for a world cup event will have a booth. Federation delegates will tour the booths over three days and it will be the Vail and Beaver Creek team’s job to pitch their location as the best. Team members also will spend time with each of the ski federation’s 16 council members to promote Vail and Beaver Creek, Folz said.
“Because these 16 have to represent the interests of all in the federation, we want to touch base with everybody,” she said.
Vail/Beaver Creek will compete against Korea for the Snowboard World Championships, and with Japan for the Freestyle World Ski Championships. Competition for the Alpine World Ski Championships will be against mountains in Austria, Germany and France.
“All five of these countries have a vote,” Folz said. “We need nine to win.”
Or at least a majority for the freestyle ski and snowboard championships. Voting for the alpine ski championships could be more complicated. Unless there is a clear winner with nine votes, there will be different rounds of voting. The lowest vote-getter in the first round will be dropped and there will be another vote. That process continues until a winner is determined, Folz said.
The foundation has spent weeks designing the booth, as well as a video and other promotional demonstrations for this trip.
The federation also will award the 2009 Nordic World Ski Championships next month, but Vail and Beaver Creek aren’t competing for that event.
What are Vail’s chances?
There are no sure things in life, and this competition is no different. Vail is fortunate to have hosted two championships in addition to other types of races, and has a positive reputation in the ski world for being a stand-in locale when events must be relocated on short notice, Folz said.
“Vail and Beaver Creek have been a tremendous friend to alpine ski racing,” she said.
But then, so have many of the other sites that are vying for a world cup event. International ski legend Jean-Claude Killy, for example, is the ski spokesman for France, Folz said.
Will the competition be stiff?
“Absolutely,” she said.
Killy, who was present when the foundation announced last year it would go for three events, called it “gutsy,” Folz recalled.
And what if Vail is awarded a world ski event, just not all three? Would Vail accept it or turn the opportunity down? The team hasn’t decided yet.
“The goal is all three,” Folz said. “It’s tough. If we only did alpine, we’re pretty confident we could win that today.
“Again, that’s not the decision, or the path, we are taking,” she added. “We decided to move to the other direction. And that’s what the Vail Valley is about – looking for the next big thing.”
Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at: email@example.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 607.