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No snow? No worries

Officials aren't panicking, though World Cup events are scheduled in 24 days

— In just 24 days, the Howelsen Hill and Steamboat Ski areas are scheduled to host four World Cup and Gold Cup events in less than a week.

But ski area spokeswoman Cathy Wiedemer used a single word Monday to describe the atmospheres surrounding both events: relaxed.

“Nobody’s hitting the panic button yet,” Wiedemer said. “It’s still three and a half weeks away, and there is no real sense of urgency.”

Wiedemer said she thinks the feeling comes from the organizing committee’s experience with other World Cups and lots of advance planning that has built the foundation for successful events in Steamboat.

The two mogul events will take place Dec. 14 and 15 on the slopes of Voo Doo as part of the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National.

That event will be followed by the first of two Nordic Combined events in the L.L. Bean Ski Town USA Classic at Steamboat Dec. 16. The final World Cup event of the series will be held Dec. 18 as Nordic Combined athletes compete in a Sprint event (one jump, 7.5 cross-country race) at Howelsen Hill.

The December calendar will be completed with one final major event as the U.S. Ski Team hosts a pair of USSA Gold Cup events at Howelsen. The ski jumping and Nordic Combined competitions are planned for Dec. 19 and will act as a qualifier for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

“I feel pretty good about things right now,” Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic Director Todd Wilson said.

Lynne Masters, volunteer director for the freestyle events, said she has had a huge response from the community to fill the 70 to 75 positions needed for the freestyle events.

She said there are still a few last-minute slots to be filled, but she feels comfortable with the turnout she has had so far.

“I feel like we have a handle on it,” Masters said. “But it always seems like we need a few more people at the last minute.”

Masters said she works closely with Nordic Combined volunteer director Chris Richards. The two events will share volunteers this year and have shared information to get the most qualified people helping with the right event.

Richards said she has about 50 volunteers for the nordic events but will need up to 250 more to make the event a success.

“Somehow it always works out,” Richards said of getting enough help to make the events successful. “We are always looking for more people.”

Richards said there are a wide variety of positions open at this point, and the organizers are offering flexible hours to attract more people.

“We still need roughly 250 people,” Richards said. “That’s a lot.”

Potential volunteers should call the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association at 879-0880. Volunteers can earn jackets and lift tickets depending on the amount of time worked.

The only thing that might seem like a problem at this point of the season is a lack of snow at both Howelsen and Mount Werner.

Howelsen Ski Hill/Rodeo Supervisor Jeff Nelson said it is way too early to get concerned about the snow, however.

“We still have plenty of time to make the snow we need,” Nelson said. “If we get a couple of nights of cold temperatures, things will change around here pretty quickly.”

Wiedemer said the same is true for the freestyle venue, and she is confident everything will be ready by the time the events roll around in mid-December.


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