Not Enough Payback From Ski and Snowboard Races
MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – This week the Telluride Ski Resort said ciao to the FIS World Cup ski and snowboard event that has been held on its slopes for the last four years, saying the event taxed too many of its resources and didn’t provide enough of a tangible payback.
For Telluride Ski and Golf Owner Chuck Horning, the decision to no longer host the World Cup races, which turned the Misty Maiden trail into a testing ground for some of the world's best ski and boardercross athletes, was one of the toughest decisions the company has had to make.
“This is typical of the tough decisions this community has to make,” Horning said. “This is a good event and has a significant TV audience.”
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association CEO Bill Marolt responded to the news, "We are disappointed but respect the decision of TSG in stepping away from the World Cup."
Last autumn proved difficult for the ski resort, with meager natural snowfall and high temperatures stymieing snowmaking efforts across the resort’s terrain in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Building the massive boardercross course, which started just below Gorrono Ranch and continued down Misty Maiden to the bottom of the Village Express lift, required a massive amount of manmade snow – an enterprise, Horning said, that took snowmaking facilities away from other runs on the mountain.
“The World Cup focuses snowmaking and early season ski runs in ways that limit the experience for locals and guests,” Horning said.
The Telluride World Cup, which was held during the second week of December since its inception in 2009, was touted as a major economic driver for the area when Dave Riley introduced the event during his tenure as TSG’s CEO. Although the throngs of spectators that were originally expected didn’t ultimately materialize, the event was still considered valuable because of the national and international television coverage it garnered.
“Our number one commitment is to re-allocate our scarce resources, including funds, to getting significantly better results in terms of occupancy and tourist revenue for this community,” Horning said. “This is an example of the tough decisions that need to be made to make this economy healthy.The simple measurement or goal is we need to go from the mid 30 percent in occupancy to 50 percent. That will be a game changer for workers, businesses and government here.
“Change is difficult, but at this point on Telluride's history, it is critical,” he added.
The announcement comes closely on the heels of a series of changes at TSG, including the departure of Riley last spring followed by the departures of nearly a dozen other department heads over the course of the winter, including Elizabeth Howe, the Vice President of Resort Operations and Director of the World Cup Organizing Committee.
Horning has said in previous interviews that building a stronger, more robust resort economy is one of the company’s most pressing challenges.