Snowshoe to Host International Mountain Bike World Cup Finals in September
On September 6, 7 and 8, Pocahontas County will be center stage for global competitive mountain biking as Snowshoe hosts the UCI World Cup Mountain Biking Finals.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort and the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau held an informational session for Tourism Partners on April 23rd at the Wellness Center in Marlinton to let people know just how huge this event will be, and what it can mean for the County.
Preston Kline of Snowshoe Mountain Resort said that this will be one of the largest events ever hosted by the Resort. Kline said there will be over 500 world class competitors participating in three days of downhill and cross-country mountain bike races. He said the competitors will be from over 50 different countries and will make-up 113 teams. Kline said the UCI, which runs World cup events, is the governing body for all international biking competitions such as the Olympics and the Tour de France.
According to Kline, the event could bring as many as seven thousand spectators to the County, and it will be televised live globally to 110 different countries with an estimated TV audience of over eight million people. Some of the sponsors of the event include Red Bull, Mercedes, Shimano Bikes and Oakley, who will all be bringing big rig trucks loaded with product demos to the Resort. He said that there will be over 100 international media organizations covering the event such as biking and outdoor sporting magazines, and they will be publishing and broadcasting background photographs of our beautiful mountains and biking trails all over the world.
Snowshoe Resort anticipates that this will bring a lot of positive economic impact to the entire County since there will be more spectators then the Resort can handle seeking bike friendly lodging in the surrounding community. Kline said that many of the Resort’s biking trails will be closed to the public starting the Monday or Tuesday before the weekend race for practice and training, so many of the spectators and family members of racers will be looking for mountain bike trails to ride else ware in the County.
Cara Rose of the CVB said that a lot of those mountain biking spectators, will come from places like Colorado, Canada and Mexico, and may very well return to Pocahontas County for future biking vacations when they see all the great trails in the County -provided, of course, that they are pleased with the level of hospitality shown to them here. She added that these spectators are not the usual sporting event spectators, since most are young and are also active mountain bikers Cara’s advice to all County residents and businesses if to use this event to open up new possibilities and take the long view about the future economic tourism benefits that can come to the County as a result of this event. She said that Mountain biking is a growing sport whose participants are travelers who are always looking for new and great places to ride -which Pocahontas County’s mountains provide in abundance.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort’s Caroline Conner said the ultimate goal of hosting this event is for Pocahontas County to become “one of the top mountain biking destinations in the world.” She said that this is a great time to get in on the ground floor of the rising mountain biking tourism boom that is coming. Conner said that tourism businesses need to figure out who these bike tourists are; what they want; and what are looking for; to meet their needs; and to provide them with an experience that will draw them back here in the future.
Conner also said that Snowshoe Mountain Resort will be needing between 250 and 300 volunteers a day during this event to make this event happen. The Resort will provide incentives to volunteers such as free camping and meals as well as passes and discounts on future lodging. They will be recruiting volunteers through “Sign Up Genius” and a link to that service will soon be found on the Resort’s website.
Local Mountain Biker Robin Bruns talked about how businesses, especially lodging businesses need to become “bike friendly” by providing in room bike storage or other secure bike storage areas; bile racks; bike washing stations; and learning about local mountain bike trails so they can advise their guests. She also talked about the efforts to have the International Mountain Biking Association or IMBA designate the “Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center as one of their official Ride Center destinations, which will hopefully happen this summer.
So, this September’s World Mountain Biking Cup may possibly be the beginning of a bright new chapter to Pocahontas County’s Tourism Industry.