The Steamboat Springs City Council's decision to provide financial support to help bring a Nordic combined World Cup event back to Steamboat was the right one.
The council voted Tuesday to provide $15,000 in funding and another $5,000 in staff time to support the effort. It is hoped that contribution will be the catalyst the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club needs to make a World Cup B event a reality.
From 1994 through 2001, Steamboat Springs hosted a World Cup event at Howelsen Hill. In 2002, Steamboat hosted a World Cup B event. Last year, for the first time in nine years, Steamboat did not host an event.
That should change if Steamboat wants to keep its rich Nordic combined tradition alive.
Beginning with Gordy Wren in 1948, about 17 Steamboat-based athletes have competed in Nordic combined at the Winter Olympics. For four of those Olympics -- 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2002 -- the U.S. team was based in Steamboat and resident Tom Steitz was its coach. At the 2002 Olympics, the U.S. team scored it best finish ever, finishing fourth.
Steamboat Springs native Todd Lodwick has compiled the best Nordic combined resume of any American in history. He has the best finish ever by an American in the Olympics and has won six World Cup events, the most recent coming Sunday when he won in Schonach, Germany. That made Lodwick the winner of the German Grand Prix, a series of three World Cup events in Germany. Fellow Steamboat resident Johnny Spillane is the only American ever to win a Nordic combined world championship, having claimed the world title in the sprint last year in Italy.
Steamboat has a history in Nordic combined that no other U.S. city can match. The city has a historic facility in Howelsen Hill. And the city has Lodwick and Spillane, who are in their prime. It should have a World Cup.
But that only will happen if the rest of the community is prepared to follow the city's lead. Donations of time and money are needed. Long-term, a TV deal has to be worked out. Steamboat probably can't draw 10,000 like the World Cups in Germany did, but we can do better than the turnouts for the past couple of events held here.
A World Cup B event could enhance efforts to upgrade the ski jumps at Howelsen, serve as a marketing tool for our community and could be the first step in bringing an elite-level World Cup event back to Steamboat. The city was right to get behind the effort. We encourage others to do what they can to help make this happen.