TELLURIDE – Next week, the world’s preeminent snowboardcross (SBX) and parallel giant slalom (PGS) athletes will swarm the slopes at the Telluride Ski Resort, as Telluride once again hosts the LG FIS Snowboard World Cup and VISA Snowboardcross World Cup, December 15-18.
Along with those internationally esteemed athletes comes a legion of others, from World Cup staffers to athlete support crews to snowboard fans who simply want an up-close-and-personal taste of the electric World Cup action. And whether they’re racing for gold or spectating from the sidelines, every World Cup participant benefits, in some way, from the efforts of one very important yet often-overlooked group: The Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club.
To stage an international competition of the World Cup’s caliber, the Telluride Ski Resort requires participating from upwards of 100 volunteers for five days straight.
And so, for the second time, TSSC, the local nonprofit youth ski program, takes the reigns for coordinating the massive volunteer effort next week’s competitions will require.
“It’s big, it’s involved, and there are more moving parts than people realize,” says TSSC Executive Director Justin Chandler of coordinating hundreds of volunteers for the World Cup.
Luckily, the ski program has a handful of dedicated volunteers of its own, who will once again command the coming army of World Cup volunteers.
Jane Miller, a ski club mom (her two children, Hayden and Anna Fake, are alpine racers with TSSC), along with a handful of other TSSC supporters, including Monica Carey, are the masterminds behind the complex coordination of the coming World Cup volunteer effort.
“There are a multitude of positions we’re responsible for filling,” Miller says, explaining that the list of positions is handed down from the World Cup’s governing body, the International Skiing Federation (FIS.) Those positions run the gamut from crews responsible for setting up fences along the course and erecting scaffolding for the Jumbotron screen at the base of the Village Express lift to slipping the PGS course between contests to actually being in charge of the starting gates at each competition. For the SBX event, maintenance of this elaborate venue falls on the shoulders of a militia of volunteers. As Miller explains, a specific crew of volunteers designated to the upkeep of each and every feature along the entire length of the SBX course whose job it is to ensure that every banked turn, roller, or jump is in perfect condition at the start of every race.
“It becomes a fine-tuned little machine,” Miller says, noting that locals aren’t the only volunteers dedicating their time and efforts to this year’s World Cup. There’s an entire assemblage of what Miller calls “World Cup groupies,” who follow the World Cup’s Colorado circuit (World Cup events are also hosted by Aspen and Beaver Creek). Some fly in from Arizona or New Mexico, while others drive up every day from as far away as Montrose and Grand Junction. Shifts can be long and grueling, some beginning as early as 6:30 a.m. and going well until after each event is completed. Yet, as Miller can attest, being a true part of the behind-the-scenes action at an event like the World Cup is worth the toil.
“Once it starts, it really turns into an exciting event,” she says. Building stronger bonds between the local ski club and its ski resort is also an important benefit of the TSSC-fronted arrangement, she says, noting that Telluride’s young athletes benefit immensely from seeing this caliber event take place in their backyard.
“They are so proud of their ski mountain,” she says.
Fellow TSSC mom and World Cup volunteer Donna Krieg echoes Miller’s sentiments, describing the World Cup as a “win-win” situation for everyone involved from the Ski Resort to TSSC to the community at large. Krieg will once again be the lead volunteer at the starting gate as a USSA-certified Chief of Start, responsible for ensuring that the starting list is adhered to at each event. Although her children are alpine racers, they were transfixed by last year’s snowboard events. “To see the level of these athletes… I don’t care what sport you’re in, it translates.
“And to volunteer? It’s a fantastic thing.”
Miller reports that there are still some off-hill positions that need to be filled. Each volunteer receives a free lift ticket for each day that they volunteer, plus another lift ticket voucher that can be used any time in the 2010-2011ski season. For more information or to volunteer, visit www.tellurideworldcup.com.