Officials, coaches, corresponding staff and one hundred forty-eight racers traveled across the country to Middlebury this year for the NCAA Skiing Championships. Of course, with this influx of visitors also came an astounding boom in business for the Middlebury community. Andrew Gardner, Middlebury’s nordic ski coach, notes that the event brought in an estimated quarter of a million in revenue to the area between lodging, dining and shopping, among other activities.
While hosting 21 teams was a great opportunity for the surrounding community overall, it was particularly beneficial for local hotels.
Accommodations for the athletes, coaches, officials and support staff began over a year prior to the event. General Manager of the Middlebury Inn Geoffrey Conrad notes that “Middlebury College and the NCAA came to us a year ago and we told them we’d love to be the Host Inn for the event.”
Robin Vaughan, Sales Manager at the Middlebury Courtyard by Marriott notes that teams started booking rooms as early as March 2012 and Conrad adds, “some of the larger teams such as Denver and Utah reserved their rooms immediately after the location decision was finalized.” The smaller teams filled things in closer to the event.
The Middlebury Inn and the Courtyard hosted seven teams each as well as a mix of fans and parents. Conrad notes that in addition to simply housing the athletes the Inn also “hosted a number of dinners and receptions” and “local restaurants were quite popular amongst the athletes.”
Moreover, the event seemed to be held at an ideal time in terms of the community’s tourism calendar. The fact that the Skiing NCAAs are held just as the commercial skiing season draws to an end and before spring traveling picks up is an added benefit for hotels and local businesses, says Middlebury’s Alpine Ski Coach Steve Bartlett. Gardner estimates that there were roughly 1,500 spectators at the nordic event on Saturday.
Vaughan remarks that a handful other events such as Winter Carnival, Alumni Weekend, family fall Weekend and, of course, graduation, bring quite a few visitors to the area. “We always appreciate being partners with Middlebury College,” says Vaughan.
While it is certain that these and a variety of other sporting events bring business to Middlebury, skiing events are especially beneficial. The extent to which the skiing championships benefit the community is usually high due to the duration of the athletes’ stay. Bartlett remarks that ski teams stay in Middlebury for almost a week, which is typically much longer than other sports.
Conrad reiterates this point.
“Most of the teams came in over the second and third weekend and stayed through the following weekend, which is an unusually long time for a big event.”
Of course, organizing an event like the Skiing NCAAs is a massive production. Coach Gardner notes, “It’s an honor that Middlebury’s been afforded only five times in the last quarter century and it reflects a lot of work.”
All the added business that the event brought to Middlebury clearly wouldn’t be possible without the help and hard work of many community members. Just to name a few, Gardner notes that Terry Aldrich deserves a ton of credit for his work.
Additionally, Bartlett and Patty Ross “refused to let the little details get lost in the shuffle.” Franklin Dean Farrar was also an immense help in hosting and organizing a banquet for roughly 300 people.
“Overall, this was a huge effort from many, many people and I’m grateful we’ve been able to host it,” says Gardner.
Conrad sums up the event from a business standpoint: “In a nutshell it was a great piece of business for the town of Middlebury and we’re very pleased to have been a part of it.”