Club seeking city's help to bring World Cup back

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council will be asked to support bringing a World Cup event back to Steamboat.

Last month, the U.S. Ski Association asked the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club if it would host a World Cup B event. The event would cost more than $40,000 to put on and the Winter Sports Club is asking the city to contribute $15,000 in funding, $10,000 in capital improvements and an estimated $4,800 in city staff time to prepare the Howelsen Hill area for the event.

The Winter Sports Club would host the two-day Nordic Combined World Cup B event starting Dec. 4.

For the first time in nine years, no World Cup events came to Steamboat in 2003. Winter Sports Club Executive Director Rick DeVos said being able to host a World Cup B event is a way for Steamboat to keep its foot in the door for the bigger and more recognized World Cup A events.

U.S. Nordic Combined Team members Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane are from Steamboat Springs, and are the most accomplished Nordic combined skiers in the country's history. Lodwick won a World Cup event in Germany Sunday for his sixth World Cup title and Spillane is the only American ever to win a Nordic combined world championship.

City Director of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Chris Wilson said the city is excited about the opportunity to host a World Cup event.

The city did not earmark any money in 2004 for any World Cup event and has already approved its 2004 budget. With the request coming in December, DeVos said it was too late to go to the council before the budget was approved.

The USSA is waiting on the city's response before designating Steamboat as a stop on the World Cup B circuit next season, DeVos said.

Much of the $40,000 in operational costs goes toward housing and feeding the events' athletes, coaches and officials. In the past, in-kind donations from the lodging, restaurant and transportation communities have helped cover those costs, DeVos said.

A World Cup B event would host around 75 young athletes looking to move up to the international elite level. As many as 16 U.S. athletes could compete in the event, many of whom are from the Winter Sports Club, DeVos said.

"Jumping on your home hill is a big advantage," he said

No World Cup events were held in North America this season, DeVos said, which is largely tied to the sponsorship money coming into the USSA. And the sponsorship cycle is largely tied to the Olympics.

World Cup events in Japan also cut down on the United States' chances of hosting events this year. The World Cup events are typically held in a series of three, such as last season where a series of three events were held in North America in Calgary, Steamboat Springs and Park City.

The opportunity to bring a World Cup A event to Steamboat is largely in the hands of the USSA, DeVos said. Some of the World Cup A events are televised, which in the past has brought media exposure to Steamboat. The World Cup A events can be more expensive to host and now require the host to provide a live satellite feed.

"We have already said we would take whatever we can get," DeVos said. "Based on the Olympic cycle, who knows how that influences them on where the money is best spent."

During off Olympic years, sponsorship dollars can be hard to come by for the USSA, DeVos said. "Outside of local companies, with the big national guys it is very challenging" DeVos said. "The sponsors in this country on off-Olympic years kind of dry up."

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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