As part of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival's intention to attract more visitors to the outstanding cross-country ski trail systems here, the 2011 Boulder Mountain Ski Tour set for Feb. 5 is offering a major increase in prize money to the Elite skiers.
Ninth-year Boulder Mountain Ski Tour race director Kevin Swigert of Hailey said Saturday that $14,000 has been set aside for prizes—$12,000 going to the top finishers in the 32-kilometer (19.8-mile) Boulder Tour Feb. 5 and another $2,000 for the Feb. 3 SV Nordic Festival night race.
Last year's Boulder Tour prize purse was about $600, not including preems, he said.
Major source of the 2011 prize purse was a $10,000 commitment from the city of Sun Valley that Swigert secured last summer. The race director said he understood Sun Valley's commitment to be a one-time thing, done in the spirit of the relatively new Sun Valley Nordic Festival.
"I approached the city with a spreadsheet that said the economic impact of the Boulder Ski Tour to the community was considerable, anywhere up to $250,000 if the participants and their families are staying here for several days," he said.
Swigert added, "That's the whole purpose of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival—to answer the question of how we bring more people here to spend more money and realize what great trail systems we have.
"In this tough economic climate, we couldn't find a sponsor to increase the prize money for the Boulder. So I asked the city of Sun Valley for the guarantee in lieu of having a sponsor, and they saw what this seed money could achieve."
Swigert said Boulder Tour prize money will be paid to the top 10 men's and women's places, with the winners receiving $3,000 apiece, the second-place finishers $1,000 and the third-place skiers $400.
"This will be one of the best cross-country ski races for prize money anywhere," said Swigert. "It's something the whole community can be proud of. Hopefully this will be a defining year for the Boulder Tour and the Sun Valley Nordic Festival."
The Sun Valley Nordic Festival officially lasts Jan. 29-Feb. 6 in the Wood River Valley with the Boulder Tour its centerpiece attraction.
As of Jan. 15, Swigert said Boulder Ski Tour race entries are running 200 ahead of last year at this time. He expects 925 skiers for the 32k Boulder Tour and the non-competitive 15k Half-Boulder course that was popular in 2010.
Skiers can save money by registering before midnight today, Wednesday, Jan. 19. The fee is $85 per person through midnight. It rises to $100 from Jan. 20-Feb. 1. The 32k youth fee is considerably less, $42. The Half Boulder costs $45 per adult, or $30 for 17-and-under.
This year's awards ceremony/raffle will be Saturday, Feb. 5 from 6-7:15 p.m. in the Limelight Room of Sun Valley Inn. The 75-minute ceremony will allow participants to have dinner elsewhere, so be sure to make your plans early. Visit bouldermountaintour.com.