Our View: Steamboat gears up for historic weekend
The USA Pro Challenge, combined with a number of other local events, will make for a very busy week in mid-August.
Hosting the start and first stage of this elite event gives Steamboat Springs the opportunity to shine in front of an international audience.
Since the day the USA Pro Challenge announced its 2015 race route at an event at Howelsen Hill, it’s been obvious Steamboat Springs is positioned to be at the center of the action, hosting the start of one of the world’s most-watched cycling events. And thanks to nearly two years of planning by members of the local organizing committee, Bike Town USA should be ready for the international media spotlight that comes with the Pro Challenge race.
The committee, working closely with the city of Steamboat Springs, the Steamboat Chamber Resort Association, the Steamboat Ski Area and key businesses in town, has leveraged the Pro Challenge race start, which includes a day-one circuit race that begins and ends in Steamboat and a day-two send-off from the base of Steamboat Ski Area, into a weekend packed full of bike-centric events far bigger than those the town experienced when it hosted stage races in 2011 and 2013. In those years, the Pro Challenge swept in and out of town quickly, but this summer, Steamboat residents should be ready for a much larger event that will have a more sustained impact on the community.
Local organizers have been ramping up publicity for the Pro Challenge in recent weeks by speaking to groups and releasing specific information about the various events that are planned in conjunction with the race — from a Pro Challenge bike festival on Yampa Street to citizens rides. The group has also been promoting local sponsorship opportunities and the need for volunteer support.
We see a lot of upside to Steamboat Springs hosting the start of the Pro Challenge race.
For one thing, participants, their support crews, cycling fans and journalists will be in town for an extended period of time. Jim Schneider, vice president for skiers services
with Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.and co-chair of the local organizing committee, predicts some of the racers will begin arriving in town a week before the race’s start to train here.
According to organizers, the race generates more than $100 million in tourism revenue statewide with more than one million spectators turning out to cheer on the cyclists. The Pro Challenge is broadcast in more than 175 countries with seven hours of global televised coverage. It would be impossible for Steamboat to buy the type of publicity and exposure that comes from hosting the Pro Challenge start and first stage race.
The 2015 Pro Challenge also coincides with a number of other events scheduled for the same week, including the Routt County Fair, two free concerts, the Pro Rodeo Series, the Yampa River Art Stroll, the Steamboat Stinger and the Steamboat Triathlon — all scheduled to take place during a five-day period from Friday, Aug. 14 to Tuesday, Aug. 18. This level of activity will require organizers of these events to tap into Steamboat’s strong volunteer base on what could turn out to be this summer’s busiest week.
We encourage residents to begin thinking now of how they can get involved. It is anticipated that the Pro Challenge will require more than 500 volunteers. To sign up, log onto the event’s volunteer spot at prochallenge.com/volunteer. Also, locals should watch for opportunities to volunteer at the other events, which are routinely listed in the Steamboat Today’s news in brief section.
This size of an event will also require patience on behalf of Steamboat residents. Traffic delays, busy restaurants and crowded stores should be expected, but we hope locals will be able to take a deep breath and realize this is their chance to serve as ambassadors for Steamboat.
Hosting an event of this magnitude during the busy summer months definitely will require a community-wide commitment, but we think Steamboat has what it takes to pull it all off with flair in a manner that will allow this community to shine in front of a national and international television audience.
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