Michael Brandy, Deseret News
When the governor shows up at an event, it's assumed that it must be important. After all, he has an entire state to run, and presumably, a lot of requests for his time.
Still, there he was on the dirt track, among BMX riders, skateboarders and motocross starts, one of two men in a tie, welcoming an event to Utah that most officials wouldn't know anything about.
"I am wearing a tie out of respect for the occasion," Gov. Gary Herbert joked last Thursday at a press conference welcoming the Toyota Challenge Dew Tour to Utah for the fourth straight season. "This really is a big deal. The athletes are incredible. You defy gravity. You must have superpowers somewhere. I am a spectator and a fan."
Herbert's presence at the opening day of the Toyota Challenge Dew Tour last week gave the action sports a link with the mainstream that they don't always enjoy in other communities.
It is not something that is lost on the action sports athletes and event organizers who love coming to Utah because, while there are thousands of action sports fans, they also enjoy support from businesses and the government.
That combination makes the state an almost irresistible draw for events like the Dew Tour.
"We're thrilled to be back in Utah," said Chris Prybylo, vice president of events for Alli Sports which runs the Dew Tour. "It is the only home for both a winter Dew Tour stop and a summer Dew Tour stop."
In fact, the Winter Dew Tour event, scheduled for Feb. 10-13 at Snowbasin, is the Dew Tour's championship.
"This truly is the state of sport," he said, parroting the slogan of the Utah Sports Commission. "The state of action sports. The panel up here speaks to that."
The man often bringing those businesses, the government and sports fans together is Jeff Robbins, president of the Utah Sports Commission.
Hosting the Dew Tour for four years, he said, has brought somewhere between $45 and $50 million in economic benefit to Utah. It has also given the state about a $30 million media value because of television broadcasts that reach millions in more than 100 countries.
The support of the legislature and governor, Robbins said, makes Utah more attractive to organizers of events like the Dew Tour.
"It really does give us a competitive advantage," he said. "We couldn't do what we're doing without the support of our elected officials.
But the benefits aren't just measured monetarily.
"Utah is consistently rated one of the states with the best quality of life," he said. "Utahns are rated the healthiest. Part of it has to do with our outdoor recreation."
A sports participant and fan, Herbert said he has watched over his lifetime as the games have changed.
"I have watched the evolution of sports," he said. "They're much more diverse."
One of the other benefits, Herbert pointed out, is that it encourages young people to be active.
"It's part of our culture here in Utah," he said. "We're known for outdoors recreation activities."
This year's Dew Tour featured nearly all of the marquee names in action sports. Last year, skateboarder and MTV star Ryan Sheckler was injured and unable to compete, but he was center stage last weekend signing autographs and pushing the limits of the sport. He finished third in the skate park event — behind Greg Lutzka, who was second and leads the tour standings, and the event's winner, 16-year-old Chaz Ortiz.
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