Steamboat Springs Hop into a time machine, set the date to February 2022 and the place to Steamboat Springs, and what would you find? Could it be an Olympic village?
As far out as it might sound, there is some buzz that Denver could put together a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper have started to mull the potential, and although no meetings have been set, informal conversations have taken place, according to a report in Wednesday’s Denver Post.
If Denver put in a bid and was successful, what role could Steamboat play in hosting a Winter Olympics?
“I would love to see it, and I would consider skiing more years if there is even a slight chance to have the games in Colorado,” Nordic combined skier Taylor Fletcher said. “But right now, I have my sights on 2014 and 2018 to bring home medals back to Steamboat and the USA.”
Nordic combined would be a natural fit, both with Steamboat’s history in the sport as well as the fact that the jumps at Howelsen Hill are the only ones in Colorado that meet the international standards.
“We’ve heard about it over the last 12 months in broad rumor,” said Rick DeVos, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s executive director. “Certainly, Colorado would make a spectacular place to host. You have to have the facilities to host an event of that caliber, and Steamboat has some specific pieces of that. It’s certainly a politically charged discussion and emotionally charged discussion.”
Nordic combined wouldn’t be the only discipline well-suited to Steamboat. Voo Doo ski run at Steamboat Ski Area is one of the best mogul courses in Colorado, making it a potential freestyle skiing venue.
“I would hope the freestyle and Nordic events would be in Steamboat,” said Erik Skinner, the Winter Sports Club’s freestyle director. “Breckenridge would try and get them. I know the crew here would love to see it here.”
In 1972, Denver was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics, but it became the first and only city to decline an Olympic offer. The reason: Colorado taxpayers voted against using public funds to underwrite the costs of hosting the games. Had those Olympics come to fruition, Steamboat would have hosted the Nordic events.
Looking at recent Olympic games, Salt Lake City spent more than $2 billion in 2002, and the 2010 games in Vancouver, British Columbia, came in at a price tag of more than $5 billion.
One of Denver’s biggest hurdles will be finding a way to ease traffic congestion on Interstate 70 from the Front Range to the mountains. And one of Steamboat’s biggest challenges is its more remote location north of I-70.
With a base of world-class ski resorts, Colorado wouldn’t have to worry about many of the venues. Theoretically, Beaver Creek — which hosts World Cup skiing on the Birds of Prey trail — and Vail could host the Alpine events.
What’s unclear is whether other infrastructure, such as ski jumps, would be built closer to Denver.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com