Support for new Alpine training venue comes from community, and from outside the community |

Support for new Alpine training venue comes from community, and from outside the community

— The idea seemed incredible and the cost seemed prohibitive, but in the end, supporters of an elite-level Alpine training venue on the slopes of Mount Werner were able to overcome the challenges and make some noise in the skiing world once again.

“This is not just a buzz in Steamboat Springs,” said Jim Boyne, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s executive director. “This is causing a lot of buzz outside of Steamboat as well.”

The effort to raise the $2.35 million began about a year ago. That money will cover the cost of constructing the elite training venue, which will be named the SSWSC-Stevens Family Alpine Venue. It will also support an endowment that will cover ongoing operations at the venue through its first few years and staffing for the venue.

Boyne says he didn’t come up with the idea of building the Alpine venue, but when things started to fall into place, he made sure the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club was ready to make a dream become a reality.

“I inherited the idea,” Boyne said. “But I really got involved when the rubber hit the road negotiating the agreements with the ski area, and they have been a huge advocate and supporter of this project. The management team personally is invested in the project, from Chris Diamond down, and that’s been very good from our perspective.”

“We’ve done it all primarily with private funds,” Boyne added. “Some of the success we garnered (was) $760,000 from club members, and a lot of the money has come from unaffiliated supporters who have roots in Steamboat, so I would say the mix of fundraising has been very healthy for the club and for the community.”

A few weeks ago, earth movers began to carve the new runs into the slopes of Mount Werner, and supporters announced they had managed to raise $2.167 million dollars in the past year.

Much of that came from donors like Todd and Amanda Tracy, who got things rolling with a $250,000 donation to the project. That was followed by a $500,000 donation from Mary and Mark Stevens. In fact, the project earned five donations of more than $100,000 from people affiliated with the club and five donations of more than $100,000 from supporters who were not affiliated with the club. Boyne said the project has also received a number of donations of more than $20,000. He stressed, however, that donors don’t need to hand over huge donations to help make the campaign successful and support the cause. He said the club will accept donations of any size, and there are plans to recognize the donors at the top of the venue near the start house when the project is completed.

“It’s not too late to put your name on this. We’ve raised about 92 percent of what is needed to build and support the venue, “Boyne said. “Now we are hoping to wrap on the fundraising campaign before the ski season starts.”

It’s an effort that has not been lost on those who want to see Alpine skiing and the entire SSWSC get stronger.

“I’m not surprised that we have been able to do it. This is a great community, and they are always there to support causes in our community, but I’m a little surprised that we were able to raise this much money in such a short period of time,” Lonny Vanatta said. “It says a lot about our community.”

Vanatta and his wife, Pam, along with John and Carrie Hayden and Karen and Steve Speer, were co-chairs of the Creating Champions Campaign that has worked to raise the money to build the new faculty at the ski area. Boyne said it was this group that accepted the challenge and reached out to the community. Speer is also a board member with a background in project management. In addition to helping raise money, he has also worked on behalf of the club with the Steamboat Ski Area in a collaborative way to ensure the venue is the best product available.

Boyne said the project, and the Club’s decision to throw its support behind the new Alpine facility, was in part influenced by the Steamboat Ski Area and its interest in Alpine ski racing. He said that he, and the membership of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, looked closely at all of the proposed projects and decided this would best suit the Winter Sports Club’s needs.

“I don’t want to lose sight of fact the Steamboat Ski Area has, through a long term lease, donated the land, and they are donating a lot of their time. They are the lead project manager, and they are doing the work.”

The ski area will make the snow and provide the initial groom. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club will then take responsibility for maintaining the runs. The Winter Sports Club will also pay the ski area to groom and maintain the runs.

“That’s the key to this,” Boyne said. “The grooming standards and the way that the snow is — not only in the way it is made, but in the way it is groomed — is different from what is needed for a recreational skier.”

When the Winter Sports Club used Sitz/SeeMe to train, the snow could not be groomed and maintained the way ski racers prefer. Since the runs were open to recreational users, the ski area set different standards for the surface that would accommodate all skiers. Since the new venue will be closed to the public, the slopes will have a much harder, faster surface.

“A lot of the venues our athletes compete on out of town is this hard, grippy, high-moisture-content snow surface,” he said. “It’s like you are training on a surface that is sub par, and then go to skiing on something that can be characterized as ice arena. It’s very different … this isn’t just about making our athletes elite athletes, but skiers like Cooper Puckett have dreams, and we want our coaches to have the facilities to do what’s best for our athletes.”

Boyne said the club will put as many athletes as have the skill on the slopes of the new training venue, including Alpine skiers, Alpine snowboarders and telemark skiers. And while it is an Alpine training facility, Boyne insists the impact will be felt throughout the club. He said it will help alleviate congestion at Howelsen, improving training and safety.

Boyne said the club is currently attempting to raise the final $180,000 to complete the fundraising campaign, and SSWSC Board President Jeff Good said the Winter Sports Club is hoping membership will come through with the final push.

“We are doing our best to show the community that the entire club is committed to this idea by asking our membership to have 100 percent participation in the fundraising efforts,” Good said. “I think it’s a great message, and it shows that everybody is onboard.”

The Winter Sports Club is hoping to have it’s fundraising campaign finished before the ski area and the new training and competition facility opens next winter.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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