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Provo makes Final Four in best towns competition, faces Ithaca, N.Y.

Published: Wednesday, June 4 2014 1:23 p.m. MDT

Pilot Curt Bamble shoots hot air into his Stars and Stripes balloon before launching during the America's Freedom Festival's annual Balloon Festival in Provo Friday, July 1, 2011.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

Provo has made it to the Final Four in Outside Magazine's bracket challenge, putting the title of Best Town 2014 within its reach — if the city can get out the vote.

Outside Magazine's Best Towns contest is in its fourth year, but this is the first year that the contest was arranged in a 64-town bracket-style challenge, with the winners determined by votes on the website.

To make it to the Final Four, Provo overcame Jackson, Wyoming; Taos, New Mexico; Missoula, Montana; and Anchorage, Alaska. It now faces Ithaca, New York. At the time of writing, Provo was leading Ithaca, 5,681 votes to 4,468.

Provo Mayor John Curtis posted on his blog Wednesday, urging residents to support the underdog by voting for Provo and saying that he'd "love to send a message to Ithaca that Provo is the Best in the West for a reason and that our residents love their community."

According to an earlier Deseret News story, a No. 16 seed has never won a matchup in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, so Provo's making it this far in the competition is a lesson in beating the odds.

Provo is "kind of a Cinderella team coming in here and proving that we can do this," Curtis said at the time.

Residents and fans of the final four towns — Provo, Utah; Ithaca, New York; Duluth, Minnesota; and Asheville, North Carolina — are making their cases in the comments section of the Outside Magazine voting page, posting photos and citing everything from census data to city events, taxes, geocaching and Google Fiber to try to convince the unconvinced.

"Provo all the way," commenter Bryant Livingston wrote. "Tech and tradition. University town and family life. Four full seasons and low crime. Everyone is welcome. Vote for Provo all the way."

"While Utah may not be known for its fall foliage, Provo Canyon is one of the most beautiful fall color spots in the West," wcparker wrote.

"Eighteen years ago Ithaca was featured in Outside Magazine, one of the reasons I moved here," an Ithaca supporter countered. "Living in downtown Ithaca, I'm able to hike, sail, kayak, paddle board, cross country ski, trail run, mountain bike, visit a gorge, swim in a waterfall or go to the Johnson Art Museum, all within 1.5 miles of my house."

To vote, visit outsideonline.com. Voting for the current round ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 8.

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