John F. Russell: No World Cup, no problem

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John Russell

John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by John here.

Don't be surprised this December if you see Todd Wilson or Kathi Meyer wandering aimlessly around the streets of Steamboat Springs.

My guess is that they will look more like lost toddlers than two people who have brought World Cup Nordic combined skiing to our mountain town for as long as I can remember.

For those of you who have not met Wilson or Meyer, they are the co-chairs of the Nordic combined World Cup B events in Steamboat Springs. They are the type of people who are not used to having free time.

But this December, for the first time in several years, Steamboat will not host a Nordic combined World Cup.

It's sad for those of us who have come to depend on the event to fill the pages of our newspapers in the days leading up to Christmas, and of course it's disappointing for throngs of people in our town who support the sport of Nordic combined, year-after-year, no matter how cold the weather is at Howelsen Hill.

But after a short conversation with Wilson this week, I was more excited than disappointed.

The lack of a Nordic combined World Cup is more about scheduling than a lack of enthusiasm. It seems that FIS wanted the North American leg of the World Cup B to take place in March 2008, so that the Olympic venues in Canada could host an event. The organization asked Steamboat to take part, but Wilson politely declined because the timing of the event just didn't fit with Steamboat.

"December is great because there isn't a lot going on in Steamboat at that time," Wilson said. "I've got the staff, the time and we can get the lodging we need to host the event. Those resources are not available in March."

So why am I excited?

It seems that the 2010 Vancouver Olympics might put Steamboat back on the international skiing map next winter.

Wilson, and other supporters, hope that Steamboat will be included in a North American tour that will feature the new Olympic venue in Canada. With a little luck, that might mean the return of the Nordic combined World Cup A at Howelsen Hill.

Of course, a couple of little things - like the $200,000 needed for a live television feed and a few dollars to make sure Howelsen meets FIS standards - might throw a wrench in the plan. But since when has Steamboat let a few hundred thousand stop it from stepping into the international spotlight?

So while Wilson and Meyer might have some free time this December, that doesn't mean they are not busy, building a plan for the future of the Nordic combined World Cup in Steamboat Springs.

My guess is that by December of 2008, the jumps at the base of Howelsen Hill will be in the international spotlight once again. I also think Wilson and Meyer will have found their way back to one of our town's longest-running traditions.

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