Ski club plans to build race center

Finance Committee approves $100,000 loan for training facility

Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Juneau Ski Club could have a permanent home to train its athletes this winter.

The Juneau Assembly Finance Committee agreed to offer the Juneau Ski Club a zero-interest $100,000 loan to build a race training center at Eaglecrest Ski Area. The ski club would pay for the construction and the city would own the building.

The proposal will have to go to the full Assembly for final approval.

"This is a wonderful idea," Assembly member Jeff Bush said. "The ski club will build something that the city will eventually own. And it will be a nice addition to the ski area."

The ski club plans to use the 24-by-32 center for storing electronic timing and ski equipment, holding training meetings and having jury meetings when race results are contested.

For 30 years, the ski club used the basement of the Eaglecrest lodge for some of these functions. But Tom Nave, president of the ski club, said it was too small and mainly used by coaches and officials.

And Kirk Duncan, manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, asked the club to vacate the space for next season.

"Others in the club and I reacted emotionally at first," Nave said. "When you tell people who have lived in a place for 30 years to leave, people don't like it."

The club proposed building a race training center at the ski area. Duncan offered the club a patch of ground near the bottom of the Hooter Lift.

"The change is going to be good," Nave said. "We want to build a facility that focuses on athletes. If we provide a building that is visible for the youth of Juneau, we can attract them to learn ski racing. It will be a place where they can come and talk to us."

Nave said having a single training place would benefit its athletes. Right now, the club's junior athletes and those under age 12 are trained separately. The club's Mitey-Mite program trains children under 12.

"A race training center would allow us to coordinate the Mitey-Mite program and the junior program out of the same building," Nave said. "This would allow the younger kids to interact and train with the junior racers and feel more a part of the ski club family."

Established in 1939 to promote ski racing, the Juneau Ski Club has more than 50 athletes and expects more next year, Nave said.

At the meeting, the Finance Committee also approved increasing the general governmental support of Eaglecrest Ski Area to $525,000 for 2006. The city originally budgeted $388,100 for the season.

Duncan said the focus of the 2006 season is to grow revenues and cut expenses. Season-pass and lift-ticket prices will be increased. Its downtown office will be closed. Duncan is expecting the 2006 season's cost recovery to be 73 percent.

Jackie Stewart, director of Juneau Small Business Development Center, said the Assembly did a good job in supporting the ski area.

"According to the Sonoran Institute that has studied communities in the Western United States, the communities that have the best economy have a ski area and are close to protected forest lands," Stewart said. "People who don't ski should understand a ski area will attract independent consultants and businesses with modern technology to Juneau because of our pristine environment and our ski area."

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.



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