State, U.S. Ski group, resorts team up to bring action sports to Utah

Published: Friday, July 20 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

But Friday's announcement will help the state capitalize on the image it now owns after hosting the Dew Tour successfully.

"It allows us to continue to be a leader in actions sports," said Robbins. "Important to the state for a number of reasons. It's an example of all of the great legacy work that's been done. Action sports when we began our legacy years ago really weren't the center, by any means."

Action sports, however, have been the fastest growing sports in the Winter Olympics, and official at every level now realize their importance in sustaining the Olympic movement.

Utah established itself not just as a place for traditional winter sports, but also for emerging events like free skiing, which will be included in the Games for the first time in 2014. Part of the new agreement is that the U..S. Free Ski Team that will compete in 2014 will be named in Utah.

"I think we have the chance here in Utah, to become the home of free skiing," Robbins said. "(The IOC) is interested in emerging sports because they need to tap into a younger demographic."

The partnership maybe be most meaningful to the athletes who hope to wear that U.S. Olympic uniform in 2014.

The agreement not only provides them with World Cup competitions in the U.S., but it also gives them invaluable exposure and support, which is critical to qualifying for the games.

Jen Hudak, a free skier who competes in ski halfpipe and is a three times X Games champion, said it's the publicity and the support that will make the most difference.

"I think the important part on the free ski side, of this partnership, is to say hey (to fans), 'There is no reason you guys shouldn't come up. It's the same caliber athletes; the same quality of halfpipe if not better."

And resorts officials said the support will encourage them to be committed to hosting events that cost them thousands but also expose the world to Utah's outdoor resources.

"The partnership, the multi-year nature of the deal, definitely makes this more attractive to us," said Todd Burnette, vice president of marketing for Canyons Resort. "It makes us want to continue this relationship as long as we can keep it going."

email: adonaldson@desnews.com

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