We’d rather ski than watch
People at Beaver Creek suggest how ski racing could become a more popular spectator sportBEAVER CREEK – Winfried Schmid is convinced ski racing as a spectator sport is just as popular in the United States as Europe – just in a different way.Americans watch racing on television, whereas Europeans watch racers fly through the gates in person, the Austrian ski club member said.”You must take both interest in TV and at the races” into account, Schmid said.But Schmid appears to be in the minority of people who think ski racing is as popular in the United States as Europe.
“We have too many competitive spectator sports – football, basketball and baseball,” Diane Mastaglio said. “I obviously know it’s more popular in Europe because I’ve been there and seen it. I think it’s a cultural thing.””Skiing starts in childhood there,” Norma Carter added. “They don’t do that here.”Austria and other European countries have a large base of spectators simply because mountains run countrywide and there is a denser population compared to more rural mountainous areas of the American west, Charlie Carter said. T”The overwhelming interest among the population in Austria is hard to describe – it’s the national sport,” Charlie Carter said. “Skiers are revered there just as the John Elways of the world are here.”Missing a moment?
Sarah Franke said ski fans are more loyal in Europe, but the racing are growing more popular in the United States. The children of parents who watched football are often tuning into other sports – like skiing, she said.Still, the draw of other sports keeps Americans away from ski races, Ari Prunes said”Maybe it’s because we have so many other big sports going on like football and basketball that are commercially marketed,” Prunes said. “The Olympics are the only time people in the United States care.”Prunes, who traveled to Beaver Creek from California to snowboard, also said sports like soccer can be played anywhere whereas you need mountains and snow for skiing.For many, getting young people involved in skiing is tantamount to bringing more spectators to racing.
“Maybe if it’s fostered in high school,” Mark Peters said.Ski promoters could learn from the increased popularity of soccer as a spectator sport in the United States. “If suddenly soccer got hugely popular then maybe skiing could follow the same approach,” Peters said.Charlie Carter said a potential spectators already exist. “The universe of skiers is where we have to draw interest from – most active skiers don’t even watch,” Charlie Carter said. But, he added, skiing may be missing its chance to attract Americans. “I don’t know that it’s possible if we’re not doing it now when the (U.S.) men are at the top of the rankings.”
‘In the thick of it’Mastaglio pointed to a group of boisterous Austrians drinking and talking underneath a tent at Beaver Creek.”We need to make skiing more social,” Mastaglio said. “We need to make events more like they do there. Make it more like tailgating. If you do that it will bring people in.”Jake Cimental said skiing should be as physical as other American sports.”Americans want to see things that involve contact,” he said.
Skiers should do more side-by-side racing, he said. The skiers would push each other to go faster and the possibility of wrecks would increase, Cimental said with a smile.Julie Wetzel said Americans would rather ski themselves than watch.”In this country we like to be in the thick of it.,” Wetzel said. “I don’t want to take my ski day to watch someone else do it when I can do it myself.”Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or firstname.lastname@example.org.