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New sponsorship frees skiers’ minds
National teamers can think slopes instead of funding

SHARE New sponsorship frees skiers’ minds
National teamers can think slopes instead of funding

DEER VALLEY -- Skiers will be skiing with one less worry over the next five days. And, if not the skiers, then most certainly the U.S. Ski Team officials.

On the eve of the start of the U.S National Alpine and Freestyle Championships, Chevy Trucks announced one of the longest, most lucrative partnerships in the history of the U.S. program -- four years.Through 2003-2004, American skiers will have a major sponsor on board, and the truck company will have a tie with one of its more lucrative markets -- skiers and snowboarders.

The nationals opened Thursday with an acro ski (formerly freestyle ballet) performance under the lights at Park City Mountain Resort.

The first of the Olympic-recognized events started this morning with the downhill at Snowbasin. This race got special attention because this was the first time the new women's downhill course had been tested in an actual ski race.

At a press conference on Thursday, Mac Whisner of Chevrolet said the truck company, which became a sponsor four years ago, was extending its contract for a full four years, instead of year-by-year, and that will include sponsorship of the 2002 Olympics.

Under terms of the new contract, Chevrolet will give substantially more money to the U.S. ski and snowboard teams, as well as become more involved in sponsorship of actual ski and snowboard events.

He pointed out that about 15 million skiers and snowboarders use trucks and utility vehicles to reach ski areas and that skiers and snowboarders are three times more likely to buy a truck or utility vehicle when shopping for transportation, "making this a partnership good for both parties."

Bill Marolt, CEO and executive director of the USSA, said that what this means to athletes is continued financial help through the Olympics and beyond.

"This helps us build on what we have today and as we go down the road to 2002 and beyond. This will help us move forward and accomplish our goals," he added.

The U.S. athletes will get their first opportunity to test the Olympic facilities at Deer Valley on Saturday with the freestyle mogul event. A non-championships downhill FIS race will be at Snowbasin.

Sunday, Deer Valley will hold the dual slalom and Snowbasin will hold the women's Super G. Monday, Park City will hold the women's giant slalom, the Winter Sports Park the freestyle aerials and Snowbasin the men's Super G.

Park City will hold the men's GS on Tuesday and the men's and women's slalom on Wednesday.