Of Reno/Tahoe Winter Olympic bids, ice skating and Squaw Valley

December 10, 2012

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Well, a 2022 Winter Olympics in the U.S. has been put on the no go list by the USOC. It appears that the USOC and IOC have worked out their differences on the revenue front, it’s the time line that is the snag now. Since the USOC would have to seal its partnerships, sponsors and raise beaucoup dinero by the fall of 2013 to be considered, they decided it was just not enough time to do all the groundwork necessary to do the process justice. (30 million! Just to bid!!! Is it just me…or does this seem like an exorbitant extortion fee by the IOC?) The earliest bid the U.S. could possibly muster would be for 2024 or 2026. The Winter Olympics is the more hopeful option as the competition to host a Winter Olympics isn’t as intense as for a Summer Olympics.

The Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition is of course, disappointed. They haven’t written off the longer timeline, but their post as of July 2012 on the website indicates they need to have some discussions before they make any decisions on going forward. We’ll have to keep checking in to see what they ultimately decide. With areas like Denver, Salt Lake City and Montana also throwing their hat in the ring, we would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit that Reno/Tahoe is an underdog in this fight, or that we’d have some obstacles to overcome. The area has other very attractive traits to recommend it that far outweigh them, but we also have several government agencies and red tape to contend with that can fairly foul up the works. But that’s a post for another day.

http://www.renotahoewintergames.org/archives/1513

This all ties into some issues made in Eva Rodansky’s book ‘Winter of Discontent’. She touched on a lot of points about the legacy of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games that got me thinking about the legacy of the Olympics here at the Reno-Tahoe area.

What it was as the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley.

What it could be as the site of a Winter Olympics in the future.

What it is and could be as an Olympic training center – now, and for years to come.

We’ve always been a Winter Sports area. (Summer Sports too, but it isn’t the sort that draws Olympian’s…at least not until they have hiking and water-skiing as gold medal worthy Olympic Sports…) We have the highest concentration of ski areas in the nation, all situated around the 2nd largest alpine lake in the country. As scenic Olympic sites go, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Winter at Lake Tahoe (Photo by M. Portesi)

Winter at Lake Tahoe (Photo by M. Portesi)

Eva’s book also touched on some other areas that I could relate to. Underutilized venues and wasted opportunities. Her issues were with the Utah Olympic Oval. Mine are with the rink at Squaw Valley USA.

I hear Squaw has new owners. Sadly, they have opted to close the only Olympic sized ice rink for several hundred miles in every direction. I understand why they chose to do so. I’ll be blunt here. Whoever designed it had their head planted fairly deep and firmly up their hind quarters. They obviously knew absolutely nothing about ice rinks, or more importantly, how to design them to be financially viable. Obviously a venue whose sole purpose was for tourists to slide around on their ankles wasn’t it. I’ll confess though, while it lasted, I personally loved it. Where else could I have an entire Olympic sized ice rink practically to myself? On a glorious summer night, nowhere but Squaw. It’s no surprise they closed it. Given its myriad of problems, it must have been nothing short of a financial black hole.

All selfishness aside, it was unfortunately designed to fail.
It is however, a gorgeous location. At 8200 feet, it sports a spectacular view. That also means it requires taking a spectacularly expensive tram ride to get to it. That’s before you rent skates, ice time or lessons. Ice sports are already very expensive. Do you suppose the designers of the facility were thinking “Hey, why don’t we ratchet the costs up a few more notches by requiring a really big fee just to access it”? Clearly they weren’t thinking at all. The local recreational skaters couldn’t afford it, training programs can’t function with a rink open to the elements and tourists aren’t that interested. They come to Squaw Valley to ski.

Taking the tram to Squaw Valley's High Camp. (Photo by M. Portesi)

Taking the tram to Squaw Valley’s High Camp. (Photo by M. Portesi)

In the winter it was a completely outdoor rink, no walls, no roof. On a sunny winter day, it was really quite exquisite. I would imagine on a snowy winter day however, it was a five star bitch to deal with. It’s not uncommon to get 4 feet of snow at a go at that elevation. The Zamboni and its driver must have been groaning in agony. No doubt some poor soul had to shovel a good deal of it off first just to get it clear enough for the Zamboni to drive out and make a dent. Maybe they had a snow-blower, or a baby snowplow. At any rate, while scenic, it wasn’t very practical.

Winter ice skating at the top of Squaw Valley. Photo by M. Portesi

Winter ice skating at the top of Squaw Valley. Photo by M. Portesi

During the summer, the rink had a temporary roof on it, but the rink itself was still open to the elements. The wind can really rip up there, and it wasn’t uncommon to have your strokes slow to a snails crawl fighting the wind at one end – only to turn the corner and be hurled down the rink by it at the other. It certainly made for some interesting jumps and spins. The roof only shielded the ice from some of the summer suns intense rays, so it was also fairly common for the ice to have slush puddles clear down to the under layment.

But I digress. My point is it could have been soooo much more. In fact, it could have been amazing.

For a rink to be profitable, it isn’t the public skates sessions that keep them alive. It’s the hockey leagues, the figure skating lessons, the short track speed skating clubs, the curling enthusiasts, the competitions and events that bring in the revenues. All of these endeavors require some control of the rinks environment, which is impossible to do with an outdoor rink. The wind not only made control of movement difficult, it also left a fair amount of crud on the ice. And if the wind didn’t deposit it, the Zamboni’s wheels imbedded it in the ice while traveling over its open to the elements driveway. (We won’t get into the refusal to drop the blade on the Zamboni when resurfacing, which merely resulted in shiny ruts as opposed to shiny, smooth, clean ice.) An elite short track speed skater can get up to speeds in the 30’s and even 40’s. Hitting a chunk of sand at that speed would surely strip a blade and send the skater flying. Broken blades and bodies to follow soon thereafter.

And for the love of God, why weren’t there any plans for bleachers? You know, seats. A place where you could take a load off when you weren’t skating. A place where onlookers could take a load off while watching others skating. And God forbid, a place where A LOT of onlookers could take a load off and watch – for a fee – a competition of other people skating. The planners were clearly missing the boat here.

Just for grins and giggles, I’m going to go a little further into my arguments from fantasy. This is what I propose. The first thing the ice facility building needs is… well, a building. Something enclosed where the snow, wind, ice to crud level and temperature can be controlled. Now I’ll agree, most ice rinks are metal, zero ambiance tin cans. Certainly we wouldn’t want that spectacular view to go to waste, nor take away from the feeling of skating outdoors, which was the one shining element of Squaw Valley’s rink. So first, the building would need to be incorporated into the existing structure, be enlarged enough to get some bleachers into it, and have a steeply pitched roof to dump the snow wherever the groomers for the ski area could actually use it. Oh yeah, and some nice big windows to show off the view. Now we’ve got something to work with here. A facility that would be of greater use to a wider audience.

The existing outdoor rink. A building to house the ice rink would need to tie into the existing structure. (photo by M. Portesi)

The existing outdoor rink. A building to house the ice rink would need to tie into the existing structure. (photo by M. Portesi)

Squaw Valley is – and has been the home and training grounds to many an Olympic skier. With a rink situated at 8200 feet, that whole athlete ‘train high, live higher’ benefit would make it an excellent training facility for elite skaters as well. Imagine the competition and event possibilities. Imagine the Olympic training programs that would love to be at a facility like this. I know skaters are always complaining that they can’t find enough available ice time. Imagine the additional winter sports programs that could be made available to the local community. And as for competitions and events, wouldn’t you, as a fan, rather go to a venue located in an area like this than your average corrugated metal warehouse located in a sketchy part of town in suburbia that are the location of most rinks? I know I would.

Reno conducted a pole not too long ago that stated that #2 on the list of events Reno residents would like to see in the area was short track speedskating. Many of our current Olympic short track skaters who train in Salt Lake City are completely unhappy with their NGB, U.S. Speedskating. We as fans think the organization is completely broken, needs to be disbanded, and a new National Governing Body started that serves the skaters instead of the other way around. Such an entity would also be eligible for funding from the USOC to run the program.
See where I’m heading with this?…*hint*hint*

Hey, just sayin’…

So here is your chance Squaw Valley to show the USOC and IOC that you’re serious about bringing the games back to the Reno Tahoe area. We already have the ski areas. You have an empty rink. The Reno/Tahoe area has the capacity to be a winter sports training and recreational Mecca. All in an area that according to USA Today was voted the #1 Lake in the country. We’ve got it all!…and wouldn’t it be an enormous boost for our economy if the rest of the world knew about it!

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Deloitte Inspiration: Pt. 3 – Speech by Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno

September 6, 2010

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Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games

August 11, 2010

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Caption from The Olympic Games FB Page:
Hey Olympic Fans! 4 days from now young athletes from 205 countries will attend the Opening Ceremony of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. You can cheer for them by “liking” http://www.facebook.com/youtholympicgames and by posting messages of encouragement on the wall of the Youth Olympic Games page!

Those are some pretty spiffy medals if you ask me.

You can follow along on what’s happening in Singapore here on The Olympic Games Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/BodyByMilk?v=app_4949752878&ref=ts#!/olympicgames

and here on Vancouver 2010’s Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/olympics
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Caption from Vancouver 2010 FB page: This photo was taken during the celebration of the Journey of the Youth Olympic Flame in Singapore which will spark the opening of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games on 14 August 2010. What should be the legend of this photo? We will repost in this thread the legend that we like! 🙂 Keep updated on the Youth Olympic Games by “Liking” http://facebook.com/youtholympicgames Photo by Chen Bin


BMW, USOC make 6-year sponsorship deal official

July 27, 2010

By RACHEL COHEN, AP Sports Writer
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/07/26/sports/s100251D90.DTL&type=health
Monday, July 26, 2010
(07-26) 12:01 PDT NEW YORK, (AP) —

A German automaker sponsoring American athletes? BMW and U.S. Olympic Committee officials see nothing contradictory about that in this global economy.

The two organizations made their six-year deal official Monday at a news conference at a BMW dealership in Manhattan. A person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press in May that it’s worth about $24 million.

BMW will be the first foreign carmaker to sponsor the USOC and will fill a void left when General Motors decided not to renew its deal following the 2008 Olympics.

“All of our research shows that our fans really respect Olympic sponsors, because they know that’s the way we bring the team to the games,” USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird said.

BMW will also work with the American governing bodies for four sports: track and field, swimming, speedskating, and bobsled and skeleton. Speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, who noted he’s a BMW owner, was on hand for the announcement.

“Part of our company’s ethos is to really become part of the culture” of countries where it sells cars, said Jack Pitney, vice president of marketing for BMW of North America.

BMW plans to use its engineers to help the USOC improve technology for its athletes, such as designing helmets that are more aerodynamic. It will also aid the USOC with fundraising.

BMW will be the USOC’s “official mobility partner,” a purposely broad term that ensures the company will be the sole sponsor for multiple forms of transportation, including those that haven’t even been invented yet.

The German automaker has supported American athletes before as a sponsor of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The new deal will run through the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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AP National Writer Eddie Pells contributed to this report

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/07/26/sports/s100251D90.DTL&type=health#ixzz0uonQAER2


Apolo on the TODAY show

July 27, 2010

BMW, the Olympics and US Speedskating
(8zone, motivational speaking and his upcoming book)
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Go to the following link to see the video on msnbc.com:
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/38413067#38413067

Also, read about BMW’s commitment to a 6 year support program for several Olympic sports, including US Speedskating. (Now this is the kind of sponsorship news I like to hear!)
Lori already posted this on the BB forum, so just scroll down to reply #18 to read all about it.

http://therockerforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=st&action=display&thread=497&page=2


USOC unveils plan for “America Supports Team USA” initiative

May 31, 2010

Nicole Saunches USOC
05/28/2010

Click on the logo to go directly to the original article
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The 2010 campaign is set to commence on May 31 and run through July 31

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is preparing to launch its second year of the “America Supports Team USA” initiative, which capitalizes on the patriotic period between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July and provides Americans with opportunities to show their national pride and be part of the Olympic mission. The program will run Monday, May 31, through Saturday, July 31.

The campaign, which incorporates the tagline “Together We Win,” celebrates patriotism and raises money to support Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls. By further emphasizing the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams’ connection with USA around the most patriotic time of the year, the initiative allows the USOC to continue to bring programming to communities throughout the U.S. and support more Americans who want to pursue Olympic and Paralympic dreams. And new this year, people who visit http://www.teamusa.org will have the option to make a donation directly to a National Governing Body of choice (i.e. USA Wrestling), the USOC or U.S. Paralympics.

“As an Olympian who represented Team USA in Beijing, I would like to ask each and every American to make a donation to support Team USA,” said Olympian Cullen Jones (swimming). “The financial support and athlete programs provided to Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls are a critical component of Team USA’s success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

National Governing Bodies (NGBs) will also be heavily involved. “America Supports Team USA” will be featured at events such as: USA Wrestling’s World Team Trials, World League Volleyball matches, USA Track & Field’s Junior and Senior Track & Field Championships and Nike Prefontaine Classic, USA Field Hockey’s Women’s National Championships, USA Badminton’s US Open and Junior Nationals, and USA Taekwondo’s Junior and Senior Nationals. The initiative will also be supported in NGB publications and on their websites.

Major League Baseball teams have also supported the campaign. Several teams will run the “America Supports Team USA” public service announcement (PSA) at ballparks around the nation, and Olympians and Paralympians will throw out ceremonial first pitches at several ballparks in June and July.

Olympians and Paralympians featured in the PSAs and print advertisements include: Natalie Coughlin (swimming), Meryl Davis and Charlie White (ice dancing), Bill Demong (nordic combined), April Holmes (Paralympic track & field), Lisa Leslie (basketball), Evan Lysacek (figure skating), Marlon Shirley (Paralympic track & field), Apolo Anton Ohno (short track speedskating.), Lindsey Vonn (alpine skiing) and Seth Wescott (snowboarding).

“Like many non-profit organizations, fundraising is a critical element of our success,” said USOC Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun. “The monies raised during this campaign will directly impact America’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls.”

How Can Americans Help?

There are a number of direct ways that fans can show their ongoing support for Team USA:

* Log on to http://www.teamusa.org and make a donation to the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. Paralympics or to a National Governing Body such as USA Wrestling.

* Text USA to 90999 to make a $10 donation

* Donate HHonors points or United Mileage Plus Miles

Where Does The Money Go?

Approximately 80 percent of the USOC’s operating budget goes directly to Athlete Support Programs. Below is an outline of some of the Athlete Support Programs offered by the USOC along with a brief description of each program:

Direct Athlete Support
Athletes who have demonstrated competitive excellence in important international competitions may be awarded Direct Athlete Support dollars, which includes tuition grants. The USOC Sport Performance Team works closely with the NGBs to determine how these dollars are allocated.

NGB Support Programs
The USOC aids NGBs by supporting services such as investing in state-of-the-art technology, specialized coaching and providing additional training camps and competitions.

Operation Gold
Operation Gold Awards are designed to reward athletes for top place finishes in a sport’s most competitive international competition of the year. The award amount varies from $1,000 – $25,000 depending on the year, the athlete’s finish at the Operation Gold competition and whether the athlete competes in a sport/discipline/event on the Olympic or Paralympic Games program or on the Pan American Games program. Additionally, in non-Olympic and Paralympic years, athletes who qualify for more than one award automatically receive the higher award. At the Olympic and Paralympic Games, athletes are paid Operation Gold for multiple medal performances.

Elite Athlete Health Insurance (EAHI)
Each NGB receives, from the USOC, EAHI slots to distribute to elite athletes. Distribution of these EAHI slots is based on criteria that have been developed by the NGB and approved by the USOC.

Tuition Grants
Tuition grants are intended to help defray a portion of an athlete’s tuition costs, and in doing so, encourage athletes to further their formal education in preparation for lifelong career goals. Grant amounts range from less than $500 to a maximum of $5,000 depending on athlete performance history and availability of funds for the grant. Approximately $70,000 is dedicated to this program annually.

Partnership Support Makes It Possible

Team USA’s corporate sponsor family plays an integral role in each and every day of an Olympian, Paralympian and hopeful’s training. Through the ”America Supports Team USA” initiative, Team USA partners have created unique opportunities for activation beyond the 17 days of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Hilton Worldwide will promote the initiative with a HHonors Points Donation Program. HHonors points may be donated in increments of 10,000. Each 10,000 HHonors points donation equals a US$25 donation. One hundred percent the donations collected will go directly to support the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams.

United Airlines will support the initiative by promoting their Charity Miles program in Hemispheres Magazine and during in-flight programming. During the month of June United Mileage Plus members will be encouraged to donate their miles to Team USA.

24 Hour Fitness will raise awareness about the campaign posting “America Supports Team USA” web banners on the company’s website, http://www.24HourFitness.com.

For more information on the “America Supports Team USA initiative,” please go to http://www.teamusa.org

About the U.S. Olympic Committee

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the sole entity in the United States whose mission involves training, entering and underwriting the full expenses for the U.S. teams in the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games. In addition to being the steward of the U.S. Olympic Movement, the USOC is the moving force for support of sports in the United States that are on the program of the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games.

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The initiative won’t launch until Monday, so I don’t see the Team USA donate button yet, but here is teamusa.org’s link to the website:

http://www.teamusa.org/


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