Southeastern Idaho is the corner of the state closest to the site of 2002 Winter Games in Utah, and community leaders want their region to get a piece of the action.
The Greater Pocatello Chamber of Commerce is promoting the area as a training camp for international teams who want altitudes, terrain and snow conditions similar to Utah venues.With the Pebble Creek alpine ski hill and Mink Creek cross-country ski area nearby, athletes training for biathlon, cross-country, freestyle and slalom skiing as well as for snowboarding competitions could find a home there preliminary to the games.
Skeptics take note: The U.S. biathlon team chose Driggs, Idaho, for its high-altitude training, the Jamaican bobsled team will practice in Evanston, Wyo., and the French ski team has shown interest in Jackson, Wyo.
Pocatello is taking its lead from the Idaho Commerce Department, which hired a sports consultant to develop the state's Winter Games strategy of backing athletic training, tourism and exhibition events.
"The spirit of the Olympics is a unique and incredible value that has not come to the area before and probably will not come again in our lifetime," said Carl Wilgus, state tourism director.
The state is putting the finishing touches on a prospectus touting 28 possible training sites in Idaho. Copies will be distributed to athletic officials at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, next month.
The state is also compiling a list of 650 decision-makers worldwide to give to local communities that want to attract commerce.