VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s less than a year away from the Winter Olympics in Russia, and one of the biggest snowboarding events that leads up to it took place in Vail this week.
The Burton U.S. Open has called Vermont home for the past 30 years, but now organizers decided the event needed to come to Colorado.
Ben Boyd is in charge of the snowboard program for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.
“It inspires the younger kids. I get to come out here and volunteer and I get to see some of the guys they ride with on a daily basis and step up to that level,” Boyd said. “So I think it gives them hope and determination and a bit of drive to get there, which is fantastic.”
One of the largest half-pipes ever built and a massive slope-style course decorated Vail Mountain’s Gold Peak area. Up to 40,000 people packed the amphitheater at the base.
“It was time to progress the sport, it was time to move the event. It was time to be more competitive with the X Games and the Dew Tour,” a Burton official said. “At the end of the day Vail is Burton’s home away from home in the West and this is where we ideally want it to be.”
But the move came with a price tag. Vail Resorts asked the town for help luring the event, and the town pitched in $400,000.
Vail Mayor Andy Daly says the investment will pay off.
“One was some good, solid discussion, and some good analytical data; as good as we could get to make a decision to invest in this event and invest at the level we chose to invest on,” Daly said.
Daly says the town is coming off its highest sales tax year ever, and hopes events like the Burton U.S. Open will help that grow even higher.
“What we hope to see is an increase of $15 million to $20 million from incremental sales as a result from this entire event,” Daly said.
If those dollars flow in during the first year, the expectation for many is that this event will continue to benefit the high country.
“At the very minimum we’ll be here for five years. The last time we did a five-year deal with Stratton we were there for 30 years,” the Burton official said.