Steamboat community impresses at the highest levels

USA Pro Cycling Challenge official calls crowd electrifying


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Pro Cycling Challenge CEO discusses Steamboat turnout for Stage 4

Shawn Hunter says the crowds and energy in Steamboat on Friday were perhaps as strong as he's seeing in any cycling race anywhere.

— For months, Steamboat’s local organizing committee of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge marketed Stages 4 and 5 as the only opportunity for cycling fans to see a stage finish and start in the same town.

On Friday, Pro Cycling Challenge CEO and Co-Chairman Shawn Hunter said Steamboat Springs more than lived up to the billing.

“Today was the most energetic stage I’ve ever been a part of in cycling — and maybe the biggest crowd ever,” said Hunter, whose resume includes stints as a top executive with the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes, Deportivo Chivas and chief marketing officer and president of AEG Sports, among others.

“We think that was the biggest crowd of the week,” he continued. “Steamboat shined on a big platform.”

That platform included a live television broadcast of the race to 161 countries and territories, Hunter said.

Jim Schneider has served as chairman of Steamboat’s local organizing committee for the Pro Cycling Challenge. A Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. executive with plenty of experience hosting big events in Steamboat Springs — think Olympic trials and send-off celebrations — even Schneider was blown away by Friday’s attendance and enthusiasm.

“It was electrifying,” Schneider said. “Some of the riders were talking about the energy and how they could feel it coming into town. I think it was Levi Leipheimer who said the crowd was deafening.”

Schneider and Hunter acknowledged that accurate crowd size estimates are difficult for non-ticketed events, but Schneider wasn’t the only local to proclaim the Stage 4 finish as the biggest event to ever take place in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Hunter confirmed Friday that the Pro Cycling Challenge will be back for a second year, and it will again take place in Colorado. But does Steamboat have a shot at hosting a stage for a second straight year?

“Definitely you’re going to see a couple of new locations,” Hunter said, “but we look hard at the communities that really shined. … I think Steamboat has more than earned a place at the table.

“I can’t thank Steamboat enough. There’s a reason why this community was the only one that was awarded both a finish and a start. It’s been a great week, but today really fired us up.

“I told Jim Schneider, ‘You guys are rock stars.’ It was an emotional day.”


Scott Wedel 5 years, 9 months ago

And when music bands performing in SB say that SB fans are the greatest, unlike every other time every band makes the same comments everywhere else, they really mean it when in SB.

As if being the one city with a finish and a start really means anything more than not having a nearby city where they could start the race. Where else could they have started this race today? Normally, a stage would start in a smaller nearby city, but starting in Hayden would make the day's race too long.


rhys jones 5 years, 9 months ago

Several of the bands at the free shows this summer commented that this is the most beautiful place they have ever played; some even raved. After 36 hours on the road, they finally are home, on our stage. I believed 'em. I'm preaching to the choir, saying this is a cool town, well-deserving of this event next year.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, and when they play Red Rocks or any other pretty place then I'm sure they say "This is a beautiful place. It is nearly as nice as Steamboat".

Not disputing this is a nice place, but the constant willingness to believe we are the greatest is just too funny.


Brian Kotowski 5 years, 9 months ago

I was on the air in radio, once upon a time. I've introduced a lotta bands in many different venues. Every venue is always the best, every gig the greatest, and every audience will be remembered "til the day I diiiee! Rock on Red Rocks!!!!!!"


rhys jones 5 years, 9 months ago

Point well-taken; folks in Telluride, Aspen, and Vail also think they live in the best place on Earth. Phoenix too, in January. Go figure...


Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

Regardless of the race's success in SB, I would not be surprised if next year's course does not include SB. Cities in the Southern Rockies certainly will want the race to visit them next year and it would be hard for a race to visit us and them. As long as the race receives state funding then the governor's office is under pressure to share the race.

And there is an additional logistic challenge next year because hwy 131 will be in the middle of construction and quite possibly cty 14 as well.


steamboatsconscience 5 years, 8 months ago

How come I saw that Leapfrogger guy say on the news last night that the crowd in Breckenridge was the best he had seen? Short term memory loss???


Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm sure that the Breck fans were actually independently verified as being better than SB fans. What else could explain a promoter while in Breck saying that the fans in Breck were the best?


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