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

December 10, 2012

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.


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!


Justin Macala photo shoot with Allison Baver

September 10, 2010

Allison just posted several photos on her Facebook page, photographed by Justin Macala. (…and let’s just say, the guys of the world will not be disappointed…)

I chose to post what I thought was one of the nicest photos of Allison, in a general sense (the guys will no doubt disagree I’m sure, LOL) and I hope Allison and Justin don’t mind me snagging a photo off of Facebook to spread the word.

(Believe me, it’s the gals that get the most search engine requests.
Usually with tags like ‘Sexy Allison Baver’…or ‘Hot Katherine Reutter’).

There are some folks who will be VERY happy today!


Photo by Justin Macala

Lookin’ Good Allison.

To see the rest of the photo shoot, go here:

Allison also posted photos from her ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’ experience:

ALSO: Don’t forget to visit Allison’s website:

This and That….

January 30, 2010

OK, the Olympic News is coming fast and furious now. In an effort to not make you scroll down through 6 feet of news in a day, we’ll post the links to some articles here.

But first, I’d like to take a moment to say Congratulations to the hometown athletes from the Lake Tahoe Basin who made the Olympic Team (and I hope I didn’t miss anyone, if so, my apologies): Daron Rahlves (ski cross), Shannon Bahrke (moguls), Julia Mancuso and Marco Sullivan (Alpine skiing), Elena Hight (halfpipe), and Nate Holland (SBX) *Thumbs Up* and All the Best in Vancouver!

For a list of the US Olympic Team to date, go to this link:

Cronica Sportiva
(click on the photo to go to the original page. And I just love some of the sub headers, ‘Katherine Reutter, Katherine Reutter pics, Olympic Babes, and Speedskater Babes…’
…and Katherine, LOVE the pink shoes!)

Katherine Reutter is an American short track speedskater who is the U.S. national champion and a gold-medal winner at the World Cup. But she’s now probably best-known to most Americans (who don’t typically keep up with Winter sports except during the Winter Olympics) for her appearance on The Colbert Report

2010 Winter Olympics Preview: Short Track Speedskating
By Sports Network

Article on Apolo, J.R. Celski, Katherine Reutter and Allison Baver

Boots and Blades Forum

Many articles posted here on individual skaters (go to ‘the starting lineup and click on individual skaters to see what’s been in the news about them) and the Vancouver Olympics thread (for general articles about the games)

Boots & Blades Forum

Make sure to check out the USOC’s site, Team USA.org. Lots of photos and videos, including the daily countdown to the Olympic Games series – Making Team USA, Vancouver Daily by Hilton Worldwide:


An Olympic Clash Over Cash

January 23, 2010

Speedskating, kayaking, and biathlon could all be hurt by budget cuts.

by Jamie McEwan
published: 01/24/2010

Two weeks from Friday, the stars of the winter sports world will take center stage in the ultimate festival of ice and snow: the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. Among the 2500 expected competitors are U.S. fan favorites like figure skater Evan Lysacek, alpine skiers Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller, speedskaters Shani Davis and Apolo Anton Ohno, and snowboarder Shaun White. The world will be watching as they face off against athletes from around the globe.

But there’s one rivalry you won’t see televised. Beyond the slopes and behind the scenes, the United States Olympic Committee is caught in an ongoing dispute with the International Olympic Committee. At stake is the USOC’s reputation—and funding for future U.S. Olympic teams.

One sign of the conflict was the IOC’s lopsided October vote awarding the 2016 Summer Games to Rio de Janeiro. The selection of that vibrant Brazilian city was not unexpected, but many had predicted a better showing for Chicago, Ill.—especially in light of President Obama’s trip overseas to lobby personally for his hometown’s bid. Americans viewed Chicago’s last-place finish as a slight to the President, but Swiss IOC member Denis Oswald called the elimination “a defeat for the USOC, not for Chicago.”

There have been other signs of friction, too. For some time, in an attempt to broaden public interest in Olympic sports, the USOC had been openly developing a plan for an Olympic cable-TV network. “Low-profile sports need exposure; they need a branded home,” said Norman Bellingham, the USOC’s chief operating officer and a 1988 kayaking gold-medalist. In July, the USOC informed the IOC of its impending cable deal and then went ahead with a public announcement—only to meet with vehement protests from abroad.

“They just do what they want to do,” IOC finance-commission chairman Richard Carrion complained. Surprised at the negative reactions, the USOC quickly backtracked. “We will not move forward with the network until we have the full support and cooperation of the IOC,” Bellingham said.

Television is also at the heart of the primary dispute between the two committees. The IOC earns a great deal of its budget by auctioning U.S. broadcasting rights, but in theory the USOC could control these rights, since it owns the Olympic brand in the U.S. In exchange for allowing the IOC to broker the auction, the USOC receives 12.75% of the broadcast revenue. (Given that NBC paid $820 million for this year’s rights, the stakes are high.) The USOC also gets 20% of the IOC’s worldwide sponsorship income.

The IOC would dearly love to renegotiate these terms. And it may get the chance—Scott Blackmun, the new CEO of the USOC, has pledged to immediately open talks for a new deal. A revised agreement would likely reduce the percentages the USOC receives from the IOC. …

(article continues- click the photo above to read the rest.)


(excerpt from the above article)

…..Consider U.S. speedskater Nick Pearson, 30, who is scheduled to compete in the 500- and 1000-meter events in Vancouver. In November, when he was in Berlin for the World Cup, he was contacted for an interview. He e-mailed back asking if it could wait until he was home. “It’s just quite expensive to have my phone turned on over here,” Pearson explained. Despite being a veteran of the 2002 Olympic team, he still has to buy his own skates.

Yet he says, “Why fix what isn’t broken?”

His fellow speedskater Jessica Smith agrees. Even after an up-and-down year in which she was ultimately named an Olympic team alternate, Smith is ready to sign on for four more years. “If we had everything given to us, it wouldn’t be the American way,” she said recently.

“Our system keeps us connected,” biathlon executive director Max Cobb says. “It reflects our culture.”

In these final weeks before the 2010 Winter Games, most athletes are thinking not about money or business but about performing to the best of their abilities. No excuses. Challenges are to be met and overcome.

As Tim Burke says, “Being the underdog—an American in biathlon—really motivates me.”

These are just excerpts from this very interesting article. To read the rest:

Also note the article link on the Parade page: “Does it pay to host the Olympics?”

Life and Times being relatively new, I have to decide if I want to post just news, or editorialize here. ( But in this case, I decided ‘Hey, my blog, my rules!” LOL)

The IOC’s stance sounds like sour grapes to me. If the USOC owns the rights, and it is what funds most of our Olympic sports, (as the article noted, our government doesn’t) then they are doing what is necessary to keep the programs running. The IOC is sniveling because the US of A’s TV rights are lucrative and our country a source of wealth…(at least up to THIS point anyway! LOL) that the IOC wants a bigger piece of. I doubt the IOC is getting their shorts all in a wad over other country’s Olympic TV rights – of let’s say, Latvia….

The USOC is right, if you want the less mainstream sports to grow and get some attention, then a network featuring them in this country more than once every 4 years would be a step in the right direction.

How many of us ST fans who want to follow any given competition, have been left with little more than blinking numbers in the middle of the night? (and as any fan will attest to, how maddeningly often these don’t work either. After much cursing and rending of clothing, we quickly fall to our knees and beg for forgiveness and take it all back, lest we make the IOC Gods angry, and they take those away from us too!)

Universal Sports has blessed us with SOME competitions online – sometimes on the telly (sadly, Uni Sports Network is not available in my area though…so I personally have not been blessed in that arena) =(

And note the other article’s claim of 50 MILLION SMACKAROOS just to BID for an Olympic Games. That and other allegations that a healthy chunk of the tickets for any given Olympic Games goes not to the host country, but to the IOC – free and clear. Are the Olympic Games for the spotlighting of the athletes, or just throwing a big party for the IOC? As with all self preserving political entities, it sounds like the IOC is much more interested in promoting themselves than the Olympic Games.

And while I’m on my soapbox…may I also add that Microsoft Explorer’s (Exploder?) browser interface with WordPress really sucks and makes it infinitely more difficult than necessary to post anything. =(

…OK, rant over…. =)

McDonald’s Olympic action- J.R. Celski

January 22, 2010

Annabelle Tometich/ Red Line Editorial January 20, 2010

…The commercial was one of a number of signature programs the international fast-food chain announced during a webcast this month. For the eighth consecutive Olympic Games, McDonald’s is the official food provider for the Olympic athletes. Three Olympic McDonald’s restaurants will be opened in Vancouver and Whistler to feed the more than 10,000 athletes, coaches and officials and the more than 3,000 media representatives expected at the Games…

In addition to Deneen, U.S. Olympians such as snowboarders Graham Watanabe and Kelly Clark, speed skaters Jennifer Rodriguez and J.R. Celski, hockey players Dustin Byfuglien and Angela Ruggiero, and Paralympic alpine skier Sean Halsted will be featured on the company’s cups and bags at 15,000 of the restaurant’s U.S. locations starting Feb. 1….

McDonald’s has joined forces with other 2010 Olympic sponsors in an effort to make the Games carbon neutral for the first time in Olympic history. The restaurant’s three Olympic venues will be fitted with energy-efficient lighting and equipment. The equipment from those restaurants will be reused at McDonald’s restaurants in Canada after the Winter Games have ended….

These are just excerpts – to read the entire article, go here:

And for those of you keeping score, let’s recap, shall we? We will soon have J.R.’s smiling face on our Happy Meals and Apolo grinning on our cans of Coca Cola. Now if I can have Jordan on my cup of joe in the morning, Travis on my pint of Ben and Jerry’s and Simon on my favorite take out carton, my life will be complete… 🙂
….at least for the guys anyway. Me thinks the media machine needs to show the gals some love now…

Speedskaters prep for Vancouver Games

January 22, 2010

Kimberly Derrick is from Caledonia


Kimberly Derrick - Photo by Jerry Search


Updated: Thursday, 17 Dec 2009, 6:43 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 17 Dec 2009, 6:30 PM EST

By Jack Doles
SALT LAKE CITY (WOOD) – Caledonia native and speed skater Kimberly Derrick is headed to her second Olympics.

24 Hour News 8 sports director Jack Doles just returned from a three-day trip to Salt Lake City where he spoke with Derrick and the rest of her team as it trained for the Vancouver Games.

Two-time medalist Shani Davis is heading to his third Olympics.

He trains primarily with the short-track team, but he’ll be the gold medal favorite in the long-track 1,000 meter event. Davis is the world-record holder and defending Olympic champ.

When he won gold in Torino, he became the first black man to win gold in the Winter Games.

Watch the video for the complete interview.

(Nice intro of Kimberly during practice, most of the interview is with Shani, an interesting watch)



Be sure to order your Team Berly shirts! Click on the photo below and scroll down to Kimberly’s section to get order information.

Front of Team Berly T shirts

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