It brought world class skiers to a community that loves the sport, it inspired athletes such as Johnny Spillane to dream and made Steamboat Springs the focus of international attention every winter for nearly a decade.
That's what the sport of Nordic combined has done for Steamboat Springs in the past nine years.
In return, this community has supported the U.S. Team the way Denver supports the Broncos. It embraced the sport as Churchhill Downs honors horseracing or Detroit treasures the Redwings.
Unfortunately, this December the union that joins Steamboat Springs to the international world of Nordic combined will be broken.
The writing was on the wall after the 2002 Olympic Games in Park City, Utah. That's when Steamboat lost the American Nordic combined team to the new facilities in Utah and the World Cup A it had hosted for eight years to financial problems that always plague the U.S. Ski Team after the Olympics.
The dedication of supporters such as Todd Wilson, Kathy Meyer and Rick DeVos kept the World Cup B here for an encore season -- but that too has faded.
But don't be sad.
Those of us who live here owe the World Cup a great debt. It has left us with images of Todd Lodwick waving the American flag as he skied across the finish line, the sounds of thousands of Nordic combined skiing fans screaming from the seats of Romick rodeo arena and the memories of experiencing international competition at its best.
So what if the World Cup bypasses Steamboat next winter?
It will never take away the memories the sport has brought to this community or the support many people have given to a small, and normally underappreciated, American ski team.
I have to believe that the Nordic combined supporters will convince the powers that be on the U.S. Ski Team and the International Skiing Federation to bring the event back to Steamboat. They have to recognize Steamboat has been the sport's biggest supporter in the United States and the traditions that were born on Howelsen Hill race through most of the athletes' blood like a Formula One car.
But it will not happen this winter. The United States will host 25 World Cup events from November through March.
They will include Alpine races in Park City and Beaver Creek. There will be freestyle events in Lake Placid, New York, and Deer Valley, Utah. There will even be a snowboarding World Cup at Mount Bachelor. The only Nordic event will be in February when Park City hosts two special jumping World Cup events -- a great opportunity to see the one American jumper who is qualified. Of course, he's from Steamboat.
It might seem that Nordic combined has been overlooked, but that will not stop its supporters in Steamboat from cheering for skiers like Spillane, Lodwick and Bill Demong.
Maybe it's because these skiers live in the Yampa Valley and give a little bit of themselves to the community that has always supported them -- with or without a World Cup event.