Vail, Teva score World Cup climbing | AspenTimes.com

Vail, Teva score World Cup climbing

Ian Cropp
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Spectators at the 2006 Teva Mountain Games in Vail watch as Robby D'Anastasio ignores gravity during a bouldering competition. At next year's Teva Mountain Games, the Vail venue will host the first World Cup climbing event in the U.S. since 1988. (Preston Utley/Vail Daily file)

VAIL ” Score another World Cup for the Vail Valley. This one, however, is all uphill.

The Teva Mountain Games announced Monday that next year it will host the first World Cup climbing event in the United States since 1988.

“We’re trying to build the largest platform for adventure sports in the world and want to continue,” said Joel Heath, president and chief operation officer of Untraditional Marketing, which owns the Teva Mountain Games.

Teva worked with USA Climbing and the town of Vail to secure the World Cup, which will be held in Vail during the seventh annual Teva Mountain Games in June 2008.

“This is the equivalent to the Birds of Prey,” Heath said, referring to the World Cup alpine skiing event that Beaver Creek hosts every year.

The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) awarded the World Cup, which is one of eight, to USA Climbing in late October.

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“We are ecstatic,” said Anne-Worley Moelter, the executive director of USA Climbing.

Health said when Moelter brought the idea to him, the decision was easy.

“We want to continue to grow our global profile,” Heath said. “We have an opportunity to bring the top six (climbing) athletes from 30 different countries.”

Teva, which draws top competitors from around the world for many of its events, including kayaking, already puts on various bouldering events with mostly top American competitors.

“In climbing, we’re making our way into it,” Heath said. “And this is epic in terms of USA Climbing.”

For USA Climbing, Teva presented the best venue for such a large event.

“There are a couple reasons,” Moelter said. “You can’t really beat the setting, we’ve been running the climbing (event at Teva) ever since its inception six years ago and we’ve traveled to World Cup venues around the world that have a lot have multi-sport events.”

Moelter also said it helped that there is a lot of built-in infrastructure and that Teva helps streamline things like hospitality.

The previous World Cup Climbing event in the U.S. ” held in 1988 in Snowbird, Utah ” posed a financial problem for USA Climbing.

“They were very expensive to put on,” Moelter said of the nearly two decade absence. “Climbing has been on the brink, and very popular, but hadn’t been able to garner enough support to get a World Cup. We’ve always wanted to do it, but make sure it wasn’t to the detriment of USA Climbing.”

While Health said that USA Climbing did a lot of the leg work to secure the World Cup, Teva and the town of Vail are fronting a lot of money to make it happen.

“It’s a pretty big investment from our side,” Heath said. “The town of Vail has been generous in underwriting $50,000 of the cost.”

Heath said that Teva is looking to put in about $200,000, although the numbers are likely to change.

In addition to the climbers, a large contingent of coaches, trainers and fans are expected to attend the World Cup.

“This is going to be a historical event for competitive climbing in the United States,” Moelter said. “We’ll be seeing (people) of all ages from the corners of the country showing up to be a part of it in some way, shape or form.”

The event will be run under IFSC rules, which have competitors try to climb four different problems, or routes, in a qualifier and then another four in the finals. Teva will still host its other bouldering events, some of which are open to amateurs. The American competitors for the World Cup event will earn their spots at nationals in Boulder in February.

Moelter isn’t sure if the World Cup will be back in Vail for 2009.

“It would be great, but it’s too early to tell,” Moelter said. “We need to see how it goes.”

In addition to the World Cup, Teva is targeting two more events for the 2008: paragliding and mountain rescue.

“They are on the forefront. … We’re looking for sponsorship for them,” Heath said.

The paragliding event would be across the entire valley and have competitors move through gates in the sky.

“It gives us a fourth dimension in the air,” Heath said.

For mountain rescue, teams would be called on at random to go on missions and find specific locations.

“That’s a big part of the mountain lifestyle and that’s what we’re celebrating,” Heath said. “We were looking at (Mount of the) Holy Cross rescues over and over and thought we’d give them a chance to show their stuff.”

Heath said Teva is also looking to boost up the music acts next year.

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